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Posted by TJB on 02/14/2011
Charm. That's what Chez Napoleon has in spades. It is a charmingly dowdy stalwart of the Theater District, circa 1959. Within its comfortable, kitschy walls, you will find no culinary surprises, but you will be treated to hearty, delicious, classic French cuisine served by a casual, yet friendly and attentive staff. For our solo lunch, we ordered perfectly bubbling hot escargot, served (in ceramic faux snail shells) classically with tongs, and plenty of hissing garlic butter to sop up with a commendably fresh bread basket. They were, we must say, among the best escargot we have ever ordered, anywhere. "Pauvre petit lapin," mourned our charming, handsome, seductive bartender-cum-host-cum-waiter as he served a delectable rabbit with white wine and mushrooms. Vultures could not have picked the carcass any cleaner, and the bread was again put to good use, sopping up more of the fabulous sauce. That poor little rabbit did not die an inglorious death. A simple, sweet, sublime poached pear in wine - and a glass of pink champagne - brought this meal to a blissful close. Chez Napoleon does not, incidentally, offer champagne by the glass - it was offered graciously after our inquiry only because the 83 year old proprietress and chef (grand-mere Marguerite Bruno) had shuffled out from the kitchen during our lunch, and had a bottle opened for herself - and that's what we were given. Charmant!
Posted by Herb Bascious on 01/27/2011
One thing I ask of a restaurant: Don't have the same exact floor as my grammar school cafeteria. Should've walked out immediately when we saw the cracked, tiled floor, but thought (maybe this is some sort of 'French Chic' thing, it wasn't). The busman (busboy was in his 50s but did his best to act as immature as possible) walks over and gives my wife and I some bread and asks if we're ready for the best dish of olive oil in our lives. "The house olive oil is to die for!" as he slipped in and out of the worst french accent I've ever heard. He comes over with some canola oil in a bowl. And the disappointments kept on coming. I'll spare you the rest of the gory details. So, if your looking for a pre-show dinner look elsewhere. Phantom of the Opera was pretty good though.
Posted by Anonymous on 09/14/2010
I really don't understand why so many people gave bad reviews to Chez Napoleon. I made an 8pm reservation on a Friday and and I actually arrived 15 min late. I was seated immediately and my server knew me by name (I was eating solo, not very common on a Friday night, but hey the boyfriend had other plans and I really wanted to eat here) and was very nice. The server was very busy but since I wasn't in any hurry to order that as no problem. At first I was going to get the $30 pre-fixe (great deal) and the options sounded great. But after asking the server what he would order, I changed my mind. I started with the escargots which were yummy and swimming in garlic and butter. For my entree I got the crevettes marseillaise (shrimp in a tomato/tarragon sauce). This was so wonderful that I cleaned the plate. I finished with the grand marnier souffle, which was totally worth the wait. I would totally go back there again, either with friends or by myself. By the end of my 3 hour meal (the proper way to eat a meal) I was friends with my server as well as the bartender and the nice couple sitting next to me. I think that in general, you get the kind of service you deserve.
Posted by martin on 06/17/2009
I have been eating at Chez Napoleon for over thirty (yes, thirty) years and have never had a bad meal. The rack of lamb is the best I have ever eaten, seconded by the venison which is served only in November & December. Whether dining alone or with a group of family and friends, I have passed many a leisurely hour filled with good, warming comfort food.
Posted by Mark C. on 01/19/2009
I arrived at the restaurant to meet my wife and I was a bit early. We were grabbing dinner before going to see a show. There were literally zero people there. I hung up my coat and politely requested to the hostess (if you could call her that) "Would it be okay if I sat at the bar until my wife arrives?" She scolded me and smugly responded, "No, but you can take this table." Not the best first impression, but I would have laughed it off had this not been a trend of the night. We sat down and realized we had a lot of time before our show (about two hours) so we wanted to enjoy our bread, wine, etc. This was clearly not okay with them clearly. After being pestered every minute to order we did. I started with the onion soup, and she the artichoke hearts. Literally 3 minutes later they came out. We asked if she could give us a little time before bringing out our main course so that we didn't have to wait for a long time outside to go to the show. (It was about 5 degrees out on this night). Sure enough, the both our main courses came out as we were still eating the appetizers. The main dishes were pretty good, but the overall experience was very unpleasant. A nice woman at the table next to us asked the server if she could possibly substitute onion soup for the soup of the day on the prix fixe menu. "NO!, No!, No!, No!," exclaims the waitress. A simple, "Sorry miss, unfortunately we don't allow substitutions" or something along those lines would have sufficed. We finally just asked for our check and decided to cut our losses. There elitist attitude isn't worth it.
Posted by Jim on 01/06/2009
Overall, decent food with brusque but competent service. My appetizer of baked mussels was tasty, but then again so would just about anything that was breaded, baked and topped with melted garlic butter! The leg of veal special was delicious, but WAY overpriced at $19 considering the plate consisted of two very thinly sliced (deli-style...like cold cuts) pieces of meat and a small portion of french fries. When I complained to the waitress she said that she had heard the same complaint on other occasions and would pass it along to the kitchen. I don't think the kitchen is paying attention! My dessert (coupe marrons) was just the opposite in size...so big it could have easily been shared by one or two others. I'm not destined to go back any time soon.
Posted by Anonymous on 10/05/2008
This place is like a time machine and going back into old NY when French restaurants 1st popped up in the US. The service is quite rude and not gracious at all. Told us we could leave when we were disappointed that an item was not available the night we ate. The food is unadorned but very good and the real deal, old school french. The french waitresses who I assuyme are family are quite friendly and charming. Would I go back? Possibly.