Maison Kayser

921 Broadway New York, NY 10010(212) 979-1600 maisonkayserusa.com

Maison-Kayser

I’m not sure what it is about this chain, but I really want to like it more than I do. And I’ve tried. I really have. I’ve eaten there for breakfast once, lunch twice, even from their prepared foods and bakery. But everything falls just short for me.

Worse still is that it’s sort of like a lesser version of it’s fellow Parisian transplant next door neighbor, Le Pain Quotidien, only with white tiles instead of wood, waiters dressed like mimes (without the face paint) and no communal tables, which I’ll file under the plus column. So how they’ve managed to expand as they have is beyond me.

Of all the things I’ve had there, there are only two worth ordering. The nicoise salad holds its own pretty nicely and the pre-prepared Iberico sandwich with manchego, Iberico ham, mission figs and mustard is pretty solid as far as pre-made sammies go. MUCH better than the tragically recommended saucisson (Le Rosette). Not sure what the peeps over at Thrillist were smoking when they wrote up that one, but I can assure it was potent and laced. It’s basically cured sausage and cornichon on a baguette with a little butter. Nothing more. And I mean nothing. It’s almost like something you would throw together in a post-apocalyptic fallout shelter because these ingredients were all you had standing between you and starvation. And the pre-made Israeli couscous and wheat berry salads aren’t much better, lacking more flavor than melba toast. The plain kind. Without anything on it.

In the middle of the road, their truffled egg and asparagus tartine for breaky/brunch is neither here nor there nor anything I would ever order again… and neither is the fig, honey and goat cheese tartine on the lunch menu, because not only was it a big snore, it’s also no longer on the menu. Guess I wasn’t the only one. And that’s my issue with MK as a whole, serving up food you would never even think twice about again in your life, unless you had a cantankerous food blog where you reviewed restaurants and wanted to write a warning to people that the food sounds much better than it is. Wow, that was meta.

2 teeth

Vin Sur Vingt

1140 Broadway New York, NY 10001(646) 922-7700vinsur20nyc.com

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Apparently the name means “Wine on Twenty” in French, but considering it’s on Broadway and 26th either the owners are very bad at counting or it’s a play on words that also means “top notch.”

Well, top notch might be a bit of a reach, but Vin is most certainly worth the visit. Cute and cozy in size, it feels like something you might stumble upon on one of Paris’ cobbled backstreets. The waiters are authentically French, without being authentically rude, which is also a nice plus. And as for the menu, it’s very reasonably priced (rare in New York), but it’s also very catered toward smaller bites to be enjoyed along side a glass of wine, so if you’re craving a feast you will be sorely disappointed. The food, however, will not disappoint.

Classics like French onion soup, nicoise salad and tart tatin were all very strong. As good or better than many of its peers in the city.

Another strong dish was the duck tartine with marmalade. So tres bon (very good) it was enough to make Paddington Bear swoon for a nibble.

The only miss were the oysters of all things. One was served chipped, with bits of shell all over the mollusk and another tasted VERY fishy, which is a big no-no in oyster land. Fortunately I didn’t get sick. Won’t being risking it again here, especially when you’ve got L&W Oyster CO. right around the corner serving up dreams on the half-shell. But oysters aside, Vin is still a win.

3 teeth