The biggest and most anticipated restaurant of the fall season just opened on the Upper East Side. Michael White(Marea, Ai Fiori, Osteria Morini, Due Mari) has once again hit a home run with Vaucluse, a modern French brasserie. Michael White has strayed from his traditional Italian fare and created this classic yet innovative French restaurant, getting his inspiration from the small Provencal town, Vaucluse.
This three level magnificent 12,000 square foot restaurant on 63rd and Park Avenue has been a restaurant space since 1927, and most recently occupied by Park Avenue Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer. You will admire every step you take in Vaucluse. The decor of this three level restaurant is elegant yet powerful. The upper dining hall has a more casual vibe, the mezzanine occupies the bar and lounge and the main formal dining room is on the ground floor. This handsome space has neutral decor and white table cloths, surrounded by plush upholstery, decorative mirrors, vaulted ceilings and art deco inspired lighting.
Michael White along with Chef Jared Gadbaw from Marea, head up the kitchen at Vaucluse. The menu is a traditional brasserie menu with chilled seafood, vegetables, pastas, meats, grilled items, seafood and weekly specials du jour, with french classics like Bouillabaisse, Boeuf Bourguignon and Blanquette De Veau. The artisanal pastas are house-made, fresh and delicate, my favorite was the Tagliatelle with blue crab, the touch of mint was just a perfect combination. The Tarte Aux Courgettes was a wonderful zucchini tart. The zucchini is shaved like a ribbon and then rolled into a tart and served with a cheese and tomato accompaniment. The menu is reasonably priced for a French brasserie on Park Avenue. The Maine lobster($41), with chanterelles, and black truffle potato purée with a port wine glaze was fresh, delicate and subtle. I don’t recall ever seeing lobster at that price on any menu in New York City. The desserts were beautifully presented, my favorite being the Tarte Vaucluse, a chocolate hazelnut tarte served with chantilly and chocolate cremeux. Richard Anderson, the wine director, has curated a 300 bottle wine list that focuses on French and American wines. The wine list is broad and extensive with a combination of value oriented wines as well some prestigious labels.
Vaucluse is a melange of traditional and modern French cuisine with New York style and attitude. Stop in at Vaucluse as soon as possible, before the word is out and reservations become impossible.