In a city where dinner for two can easily run a $100 tab BYOB restaurants are a godsend for those looking to dine out on a budget. Finding a great BYOB spot, one with good food and a cute setting, is therefore nothing short of a small miracle. For those looking for an inexpensive French dinner here are a handful of good options.
La Sirène is a charming little restaurant on Broome street practically a stone’s throw away from the Holland tunnel. Marseille born chef owner Didier Pawlicki runs the kitchen and somehow manages to find the time to greet and chat with each table. It’s a cramped space that seats 25 at most and often times a meal here also means inevitably getting to know the table next to yours. That’s part of the charm and Chef Didier’s Southern French cooking is certainly worth having to manage in close quarters. The menu varies by the season but the classics such as soupe a l’oignon, pâté, escargots, hanger steak, and roasted leg of lamb are all excellent. The menu may seem a bit on the pricey end for a casual French bistro but the portions are adequate. For dessert the profiteroles are highly recommended. Just don’t expect an Americanized overly sweet chocolate sauce. It’s French. It’s dark chocolate. The general atmosphere is warm and inviting and it’s equally suited for a romantic date as it is for dinner with friends or family. Reservations are recommended given the space limitations and only cash is accepted.
Moving towards West Village there’s Tartine. Nestled on the corner of tree-lined West 4th and 11th street this simple French bakery and restaurant has been a favorite for years. They’ve maintained the no reservations policy since opening so it’s not unusual to see a line around the corner on weekends and brunch. For brunch the croque monsieur is perennially popular and the quiche varies daily. For dinner the steak choices fare better than the rest of the menu. It’s no wonder as the draw of Tartine lies in its simplicity. People come here not for fancy food but for simple comfort food they can linger over as they sip their own bottles of wine. Prices are cheap and service was without complaint. And don’t forget to check out the desserts.
Finally on East 7th St. in the East Village is La Sirene’s cousin Taureau. Chef Didier divides his time between the two restaurants and is as personable to his patrons here as in La Sirène. Taureau specializes in fondue and diners can choose from a selection of fondue bourguignon and cheese fondues. And of course, chocolate fondues for dessert. Meat cooked in hot oil is not exactly a usual preference for most but the cheese and chocolate fondues are excellent. It’s a little pricey but given the quality it’s reasonable. The restaurant only seats 38 and it’s an intimate setting that’s obviously intended to be a date spot.
So there you have it. 3 French restaurants that won’t break your wallet and let’s you bring your own booze as well.
La Sirène (4 out of 5 stars)
558 Broome St.
(b/t Varick St. & Avenue of the Americas)
Tartine (3 out of 5 stars)
253 W. 11th St.
(b/t W. 4th St. & Waverly Pl.)
Taureau (3 out of 5 stars)
127 E. 7th St.
(b/t 1st Ave. & Avenue A)