I had lunch at Benoit with Howard Helmer of the American Egg Board and Tina Ujlaki, executive food editor of Food & Wine, and was struck by how decked out most of the women eating there were. They looked like they were trying to be extras in Sex and the City, and since the movie hits theaters tomorrow I'm pretty sure all the filming has already been done.
“I think they’re European,” Tina said. And she was probably right. Either that or they were expensive call girls who decided to treat themselves to straightforward French bistro food for lunch. Maybe the name Benoit gave them the wrong idea about the place.
I’m not sure if the particular class of European women that we were observing normally tart themselves up so much at lunch or if, having watched the TV series, they assumed that was how New Yorkers dressed and they were trying to fit in.
On a totally different subject:If you’re French, is eating at Benoit in New York kind of like eating at one of the chains in Times Square if you’re from the Midwest?
As an appetizer we ordered the charcuterie plate, which among other things had langue de veau Lucullus. That would be veal tongue layered with foie gras. Tina already knew that, but I had no idea. It did remind me of the tale I’d read of Lucullus, a legendary Roman gourmand known for his lavish banquets. One night when dining alone, his servants prepared a not-so-lavish meal, and he expressed outrage: “Today Lucullus dines with Lucullus!”
I’ve always liked that sentiment.
Then Tina and I split the roasted chicken for two, with fries and roasted garlic, and Howard had steak tartare. We also had asparagus with hollandaise sauce for the table. I had a glass of a straightforward Languedoc red wine to go with it.
For dessert we had the vanilla millefeuille and the Mister Mystère, which was a sort of hazelnut semifreddo layered between thin meringue disks, served with chocolate sauce.