French Roast

I’m wondering if I should try a new style of writing here, for the restaurant posts. I usually follow a systematic lay-out, starting with the location, then what we/I ordered, what we/I paid and finally, the yada-yada portion. How about the incessant yapping coming in first… or well, just interlaced with the technicalities? And the absolutely must-read stuff (such as the location, the price range, what’s good and what’s not) in bold. Yes?

G and his friend chanced upon French Roast one hungry afternoon. I’ve spoken enough about his love for crepes and bagels and poached eggs. French toast. Add that to the list. Sweet tooth, that child! The friend he had visited with the first time around ordered a beet salad and had thought the portions were a little small. G hadn’t gotten enough of the French Toast and insisted we lunch there before I headed off to Rye Brook last week.

The plan was made.

The website:

The Downtown Location we stopped at for brunch/lunch: 78 West 11th Street, New York, NY

Armando, the guy who served us was a skinny Joey-from-FRIENDS. That perpetual ‘blonde’ look (and truly, I mean it with no offence to pretty, golden-haired girls!) combined with the classic “How you doin?” grin. In fact, he even wrote a “Shukria” when he left us our bill. I LOVE little acts of camaraderie, of that nature. They make me feel at home in the United States.

It’s a reasonably expensive place, this French Roast. We paid $55.25, without the gratuity. The ‘Shukria’ note DID make me leave an extra dollar. G and I quibbled about 18% or 20%. 20% always wins.

Reasonably Expeneive
$67, in all

They serve fresh squeezed orange juice!!! Nothing excites me more than being served fresh squeezed juice. Reminds me of Shiv Sagar from back home, although I will admit they added spoonfuls of sugar there. Here, no. The tart-ness that makes you scrunch your eyes and break into a smile – that’s the kind of fresh squeezed juice they serve. And yes, here, in Amreeka-land, $5 for fresh squeezed juice is reasonable. So all’s cool.

Orange Juice

G got himself a bagel and some cream cheese. And the French Toast. He insisted on sampling the French Toast at ihop when we drove from NC to NJ last weekend and hated it. Especially because, at ihop, they serve the toast with this awful pink syrup and artificially preserved strawberries (I think that’s what they are!). It was French Toast Redemption time. And what better place than French Roast. For French Toast.

The portion of lettuce reminds me of my first attempt at poached eggs
Succulent French Toast, served with a jar of honey and some fresh fruit

I ordered the sea food pot pie. I LOVED the texture of the pastry that the pot pie was topped with. I wish the consistency of the stew had been a little thicker because it kinda got a little awkward for me to cut through the pastry and to the gooey yumminess within. Everything just spilled over and I made a mess of my meal, the first couple of minutes into it. I emerged victorious at the end of it however, eating clean and eating well.

Gooey Yumminess
Ooooh!!! That flakey crusty pastry!!
Split Wide Open... Seafood!!!

G and I are quite a cheesy couple, in more than one sense of the word cheesy. In line with the evening at Flying Saucer and my little wine-and-cheese craving from a few days later, we ordered the cheese plate. It was a delight. But it was EXPENSIVE!!! Or may be that’s just how expensive the expensive stuff is. *grin* $14 for four little pieces of cheese, a few slices of green apple and some delectable-as-fuck (I’m sorry, but I really feel that strongly about it!) guava.

Cheese Please

Let’s start with the top right corner: that was good old Gouda. I can never get enough of that cheese. I think it just might be my favourite.

Bottom right was Gourmandise Walnut. I’ve never eaten cheese with nuts in it. Yes, I’ve gorged on a tub of the honey walnut cream cheese from Brueggers, but nothing apart from that. This cheese was tasty, in that it was creamy and not sweet at all. I read up a little about in when I got home then. It’s a French cheese, a unique blend of Gruyere and Cheddar. It comes in two flavours: walnut and aromatic cherry. It goes well with pears and other winter fruit. The name Gourmandise, quite obviously, is derived from French word “gourmet”, intended to represent the satisfaction derived when a cheese gets this savory.

Bottom left, I don’t really remember what it is. My guess, after sufficient reading up over the web, is that it was Comte. Nutty flavour. And hard. I quite enjoyed its taste too.

Top left is goat cheese. The edge of the slice of cheese flavoured with herbs and a teensy bit of salt. G and I share an inside joke about why he likes Goat Cheese. His buddy, Z, and I even have some really nasty jokes about him and goats of late. It’s a wonderful thing that he takes them in the right spirit. Always.

We were also served four slices of apple. And that dark pink mass you see in the centre, that’s guava. Well, guava cheese. Not cheese, really. But having the texture of cheese. And actually guava. Pink guava, made into a solid paste known as ‘dulce de guayaba’ and then sliced and served. Boy, was it delicious or what! I’ve never had guava in this form before. And it’s definitely worth trying!

What we ordered:
Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
Bagel and Cream Cheese
French Toast
Seafood Pot Pie
Cheese Plate

My verdict on French Roast: It’s a place you MUST visit. For the brunch. For the cheese plate. And if you’re willing to spend those extra few bucks. It’s a great atmosphere. Very brasserie-esque. Tables close to one another. The constant chatter of people around you, though never loud or annoying. Some good music, when we left, they were playing Yesterday – The Beatles. All in all, a 9/10, I’d say.

Ambience: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 9/10
Over-all: 9/10


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