La Sirène: Magical, Classical French Food

Like a secret cove its namesake might dwell within, La Sirène is somewhat hidden on the far western end of Broome Street, close to the Holland Tunnel (make sure to keep to the path on the right, lest you get stuck on the wrong end of the traffic barricade). Comprised of two elegant, nautically-themed dining rooms that each seat no more than twenty, La Sirene has a comfortable, casual atmosphere that belies the sheer strength of its menu. Surviving Soho for eight years and counting is no small task for any restaurant.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of Chef Didier’s newer restaurant, Le Village. While the menu shares a couple items with Le Village, La Sirène undoubtedly brings a more regal and expensive flair to its cuisine while still . In place of the numerous gluten-free and vegetarian options available at Didier’s East Village venue, I found an all-star selection of meat and seafood dishes including Hangar Steak, Rabbit Stew to Lamb in Truffle Jus, Seared Rohan Duck Breast, and Seafood Linguine. The Coq Au Vin and Parisian Gnocchi of Le Village also make an appearance here (you can refer to my previous review if you’re curious about those, though I’ll tell you that I enjoyed them both). La Sirène’s Cassoulet is starkly different from the vegetarian version at Le Village, featuring bacon, duck confit, pork sausage, and foie gras jus.

Of the appetizers, I sampled the Poires Roti Au Bleu Fondant, the Roasted Pear with Melted Blue Cheese and the Tartelette de Chèvre Frais – Baked Goat Cheese Tart.

The pear was warm and filled with gooey cheese that flowed nicely on the palette. While remaining subtly sweet, it was warmer and heartier than any other fruit dish I’ve had recently.

Roasted Fresh Whole Pear with Melted Galbani Blue Cheese

Roasted Fresh Whole Pear with Melted Galbani Blue Cheese

Dressed in shallots, truffles, grape and “a veil” of Swiss that Didier swears was aged for over 180 days, the goat cheese tart was absurdly decadent for an appetizer with a smooth, velvety texture and a blizzard of yummy, salty cheeses amidst a tailwind of tart. Definitely not for the light of heart or high of cholesterol.

Baked Goat Cheese Tart

Baked Goat Cheese Tart

With every entree, Chef Didier serves a plate of four complementary vegetables that vary by season and availability. I must say, like someone out of a fairytale, Chef Didier practically spins his carrots into a puree of gold.

Complementary Vegetable Plate with Every Entree

Complementary Vegetable Plate with Every Entree

For my entree, I made sure to order the Tournedos Rossini, which Didier describes as a “popular signature.” Allegedly crafted by some of France’s finest chefs for the pleasure of Italian composer Gioachino Rossini (which chef varies by source, though the name Rossini has always been attached), Tournedos Rossini is a luxury dish that speaks to a fabled culinary tradition that many fear will fade in the coming generations.

The dish is a trifecta of gourmet treasures, combining a perfect pan-fried filet mignon with a slab of seared foie gras on top, garnished and further intensified with slices of black truffle. It is important to clarify that the mere presence of any one of these constituent ingredients indicates an ascended level of culinary class, but all three together truly meld together into something enchanting to behold.

Tournedos Rossini

Tournedos Rossini – Filet Mignon with Foie Gras and Truffles

The filet mignon was meticulously fried with the inside of the meat a lovely, rosy medium-rare. A petit, delicate cut, the tenderloin managed to be incredibly filling. All in all, the cut of beef was so tender, I might have inhaled the entire slab in one bite if not for its heavy, powerful flavor. A sturdy base in both structure and flavor, this steak commanded both respect and recognition, though it still blended harmoniously with the richness of its elegant accomplices.

The Foie Gras was nutty, sweet, and succulent enough for me to remember that it arrives in other incarnations than spreadable pate. Didier’s Foie Gras managed to be dainty in pan-seared crispiness while managing to retain a hearty juiciness–its texture and flavor carried life and vigor I hadn’t previously associated with the delicacy. More creamy than any stick of butter and more thick and savory than any stuffing, it enhanced the meat in every conceivable way.

The truffles hit me both immediately in the dish’s aroma and in the after-taste of the sauce as a lingering note. One might worry that their earthy explosion of pure umami might obliterate the senses, but these truffles were as courteous as they were refined. At no point did I feel that their presence overpowered the other parts of the dish. The port wine sauce rounded out the experience with a hint of sweetness to even out the savory.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I fell utterly, Otter Lee in love with the Tournedos Rossini. It felt like a passionate, extravagant love affair with the full force of France’s culinary tradition. This dish took me by the tongue and whispered sweet, sweet promises in my ear.  “You matter. You deserve this. I love you. I love you. I Iove you!”

At $36 it’s the most expensive item on the menu, but a small price to pay for pure decadence on a plate.

And just like that, my love was gone.

And just like that, my love was gone.

La Sirène also offers a variety of desserts like Homemade Ice Cream, Sorbet, Dark Chocolate Lava Cake, and some BIG Profiteroles (seriously, they’re like a castle of chocolate). As I am a lover of sweet, summery things, my favorite was the Tartlet aux Fraises, a simple yet potent tart of ripe strawberries and some truly fine pastry cream.

Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Tart

Sorbet Trio - Raspberry, Coconut, and Mango

Sorbet Trio – Raspberry, Coconut, and Mango

BIG Profiteroles

BIG Profiteroles

La Sirène allows its patrons to bring their own wine with a $10 corkage fee, but has recently gained its alcoholic beverage license and started offering wine of its own.

I’d call La Sirène an excellent place to bring friends, family, or dates, though I can promise that I will seriously never share any of my Tournedos Rossini with any of you. It’s absolutely divine, so by all means get your own 🙂

photo by Lucy Komisar

photo by Lucy Komisar

La Sirène

Address: 558 Broome Street (Between 6th Avenue and Varrick)

Hours: Dinner only.  5 PM to 11 PM on Sundays-Thursdays. 5 PM to 12 AM on Fridays and Saturdays.

Phone Number: (212) – 925 – 3061

Website: http://www.lasirenenyc.com.

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