Quatorze Bis; the most underrated French joint on 79th Street

French perfection on the Upper East Side.

For the francophiles among us who lack both funds and free time, Paris can feel as far from New York as the moon. Still, New York City has a reputation for having some of the best French restaurants in America, and the list of top-notch choices is staggeringly long. Le Bernardin and Daniel both have Michelin stars (three and two respectively), and there are plenty of other famous spots of note; Balthazar, The French Laundry, and Le Coucou to name a few. Whether you prefer Haute Cuisine or bistro-style dining, the city is saturated with so many wonderful eateries, it becomes entirely too easy to overlook perfection. This is undoubtedly the reason why Quatorze Bis, a fabulous little bistro located on the Upper East Side, never seems to make into articles about the city's best French joints.


Quatorze Bis' french-style storefront

Founded in 1984 by Mark Di Giulio and Peter Meltzer with the goal of creating an intimate mirror image of a classic Parisian bistro, Quatorze was originally located, aptly, on West 14th street. In 1990, Quatorze moved to its present home on East 79th and renamed itself Quatorze Bis (Fourteen Again). In an article with the New York Times, Di Giulio said the move was prompted by large-scale construction around the restaurant, saying that it was devastating his business. It seems he was right, as they've been open on 79th street for almost thirty years in a city where turnover is so high that restaurants seem to serve their first and final entrees in the same week.

The interior of Quatorze Bis is beautiful but understated, and white walls with wooden slats covered in French pop art give the dining area both a refined and cozy atmosphere. It seems like the kind of place where any group of people, from bohemians to financiers, could split a bottle of Bordeaux and talk until the evening disappears under a sweet wine and profiterole haze. The owners are almost always in the restaurant and the service staff aren't a bunch of stuffed shirts, silently handing you plates. There's a geniality about the place, as if dining there functions as a special invitation to club you didn't know you wanted to be a part of. Don't be alarmed if you find yourself suddenly remembering parts of that intro-level French course you dropped in college. It's just your subconscious trying to tell you that you're home. And, that you want to become a regular.


Straight forward, and delicious

The menu itself is minimalist, a single page full of classic French dishes from duck confit to boeuf bourguignon,each one as delicious and doused in butter as the last. The gruyere tart is the standout amongst the appetizers. The homemade pie crust cracks and flakes perfectly into the bacon, leek, and cheese lagoon at its center. As for the entrees, I'm a firm believer in the idea that a French restaurant can be judged solely on the quality of its duck dishes. While the confit certainly feels more Parisian and stylistically French, the real winner on this menu is the braised duck notre façon. Perfectly cooked and remarkably tender for a duck breast, this dish is absolutely Quatorze's crown jewel. Though their menu suggests the choucroute garnie–which is also delicious–as the house speciality, in my mind the duck reigns supreme. Moving on to the dessert menu, you'll notice that it's just as sparse as the entree page, and includes a wonderful apple tart, poached pears, and flan, but come on, you're eating French. Get the profiteroles. Quartorze Bis also offers an extensive wine list, if you're looking to drink while you eat. Though some of the prices can seem a bit daunting, it's worth noting that the house red, a Côtes du Rhône is absolutely wonderful and can be served by the glass, half-bottle, or full bottle.

Quatorze Bis' one-page menu

From a price standpoint, Quatorze Bis, might not be everyday fair for most us, but it's well worth the money if you're looking for a place to spend a special evening. That said, when comparing it to the rest of the French food in New York, it's prices are actually fairly moderate. Whether you plan on becoming a regular, or just want a new place to wet your whistle and grab a bite, this hidden gem is a well worth checking out. The Upper East Side may not be the trendiest neighborhood, but that doesn't mean they don't have some of the best food.


Matt Clibanoff is a writer and editor based in New York City who covers music, politics, sports and pop culture. His editorial work can be found in Pop Dust, The Liberty Project, and All Things Go. His fiction has been published in Forth Magazine. Website: https://matthewdclibanoff.journoportfolio.com/ Twitter: @mattclibanoff

Read More from Journiest

Subscribe now

Related Posts

If you've googled one thing during this pandemic, it is definitely: "Thai food near me."

Thai food has remained one of the most delicious and sought after takeout gems; and in New York City, specifically, there are so many delicious options that it can be overwhelming. Often unlike Chinese food, Thai food offers fresher ingredients and versatile cuisine options. Whether you want some Pad Thai or Pad See Ew, or some coconut milk-infused curry or even just some soup, Thai food is good for any occasion. But with so many options, how do you know you're getting the freshest ingredients at the best price? Here are the best spots to order take-out from, and we even broke it up by borough for you.


Manhattan: Fish Cheeks

Fish Cheeks

Reviewed by The Times as "fresh, vivid and intense," Fish Cheeks offers solid takes on traditional Thai Cuisine. Their speciality remains seafood, so their Crab Friend Rice and Coconut Crab Curry are delicious highlights. Their Tum Yum is also to die for, made with fresh galanagal, lime leaves and lemongrass.

The version [of tum yum] here hums with fresh galangal, lime leaves and lemongrass. Shrimp and knobby mushrooms simmer in a broth that gets extra body from milk, a twist I've never seen before but one I approve of. It could be spicier, but the use of bird's-eye chiles is far from shy.

Manhattan: Lan Larb

thia food

Arguably some of the best Pad Thai in the city, Lan Larb is focused mainly on the food of Thailand's northeast region. As a result, there is often a combo of meat and seafood involved in most dishes, such as the Lao Chicken Soup, which combines fresh chicken with pickled fish and a steamy brown broth. The menu will make your tastebuds whirl if you're one for experimentation, if not, their Pad Thai is iconic and filling enough on its own.

Brooklyn: Ugly Baby

Brooklyn has always been teeming with amazing Thai food joints, but Ugly Baby is the borough's most established success story. The Carrol Gardens sensation was preceded by two long gone Red Hook restaurants known for their authentic Northern Thai cuisine. With Ugly Baby, a name which comes from an ancient belief in Thailand that ugly children bring good fortune, chef Sirichai Sreparplarn had mastered his craft. The restaurant quickly gained glowing praise throughout Brooklyn and New York, and their take on Khao Soi Nuer and Kao Tod Nam Klook remain the stuff of legends.

Queens: Ayada

ayada thai

Ayada's cuisine is so good that it made a New York Times journalist cry at his table. Not out of emotion though, but out of spice. For those looking for a truly bold eating experience, this Queens Thai restaurant holds nothing back when crafting their drunken noodles or Pad Thai, but that spice is what makes it one of the best spots in the city.

Bronx: Ceetay

​While the Bronx isn't necessarily a buzzing Thai food borough, Ceetay's asian fusion cuisine is of the highest quality and will appeal to anyone desperately needing to nom on some noodles. Their sushi is amazing but their Pad Thai is packed with amazing flavor. Seasoned with onions, peppers, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, peanuts, scallions and cilantro, this Pad Thai is packed with flavors and will slam your taste buds in the best possible way.

Travel

5 Countries to Visit This Fall

As the weather starts to chill out, we're just getting warmed up to travel

It's not winter yet!

So that means, we're all about that fall travel. It's a beautiful time of year to be outside in many countries, soaking up the colorful landscapes and fresh air. Here are our picks for the top places to visit this fall.

1. Germany

Pexels

Burg Eltz Castle is a magical step back into the Middle Ages that's been here for more than 850 years.

2. Switzerland

Pexels

The red leaves in Bern are absolutely striking.

3. Italy

Pexels

Nothing like the sheer beauty of the formidable Italian alps.

4. Peru

Pexels

Machu Picchu beckons visitors from near and far this fall.

5. Mexico

Pexels

It's not too cold to skip the beach!

Everyone has heard of the murder-hotel where dark shadows creep at the edge of your vision, or the abandoned house where the furniture moves each time you leave the room.

But sometimes the places set up to capture the fun and fright of the Halloween season for paying customers can be far more horrifying than any ghost stories. These "fake" haunted houses will leave you genuinely haunted.



Pennhurst Haunted Asylum

So spoooky!

Thomas James Caldwell

Pennhurst Asylum was in operation from 1908-1987 in the small town of Spring City, Pennsylvania. While we don't have all the records of the residents' experiences there, it doesn't take much imagination to realize that this building was home to true horrors. In many ways, 1908 wasn't that long ago, but in terms of mental health treatment—especially in small-town Pennsylvania—it was absolutely the dark ages. This was the time of lobotomies, straight jackets, and shock therapy. Whatever the jump scares and fake blood contribute to the fear you will feel walking through Pennhurst Asylum's aging, echoing halls, they can't come close to the deep, sinking feeling caused by the deep history of torment that has left its imprint on the very fabric of the place. Four spooky skulls out of five.

💀💀💀💀/5

Haunted Trap House

Like this, but less 90s

In Centreville, Maryand, in the year 1989, a group of visionaries were struck by a bolt of inspiration. What if—instead of zombies and werewolves and demons, and all the stuff out of children's nightmares—what if they filled their haunted house with the real-world nightmares that were actually infesting their city, killing their residents, and generally afflicting every corner of the entire nation. Thus, the Haunted Crack House was born. Since renamed the Haunted Trap House, it's ostensibly an educational experience on the dangers of drug use, it features simulations of overdoses, arrests, and shootings, as well as actual former convicts who are paid to draw on their real experiences to make your visit as terrifying as possible. This kind of fetishizing of human misery to capitalize on the Halloween season is as despicable as it is spooky. Four-and-a-half skulls out of five.

💀💀💀💀/5

McKamey Manor

He technically consented to this

A $20,000 reward? A 40-page waiver? These figures have garnered a lot of attention in recent headlines. Supposedly this is the "scariest" haunted house experience in the country. Who could resist the temptation of that once-in-a-lifetime experience, combined with the chance to win a big cash prize? Unfortunately, that is exactly what Russ McKay wants. There's a reason he's put so much work into the legal side of his operation. Rather than gassing up neutered chainsaws and chasing you around in a hockey mask, McKay has opted for producing actual, real, straight-up torture. You may not find the decorations and costumes that scary, but you will absolutely fear for your life when you consent to be water-boarded with fake blood. For being operated by a man who is clearly an unhinged psychopath, McKamey Manor ties the Haunted Traphouse, with four-and-a-half spooky skulls.

💀💀💀💀.5/5

Donald Vann's House of Horrors

Donald Vann murdered eleven people. Happens to the best of us, but it does present a problem. How do you dispose of all those bodies? Donald's solution was to open a haunted house and put his victims' decaying remains on display as props. Props to him. For eight months he prepared his fetid, malodorous horrors, before debuting on October 1st. Unfortunately, you won't be able to visit his house of horrors, because he has since landed in some legal trouble—board of health, maybe?—but I'm sure for the lucky few who were able to visit during its brief tenure, and witness Vann's "psychotic smirk," I'm sure the nightmares they're left with keep on spooking.

💀💀💀💀💀/5

Every Hell House in America

realitypod

In the same vein as the Haunted Traphouse, Hell Houses are church presentations intended as educational experiences that warn kids and teens away from the path of sin. Their methods for achieving this obviously vary, but according to The Washington Post, you can generally expect the following: "A devil ushers a gay man dying of AIDS into the fiery pit. A teenager who is raped at a drug-filled rave commits suicide and also goes to hell. A young girl hemorrhaging from an abortion repents at the last minute." Awful. Truly sickening. What kind of trauma are they inflicting on these children to prop up their outdated ideologies? Six spooky skulls. Where'd that extra skull come from?? Nobody knows…

💀💀💀💀💀💀/5