When acclaimed restaurateur Daniel Boulud (whose other eateries include the Five-Star Daniel, Boulud Sud and Café Boulud New York) unveiled his newly renovated Midtown staple in September 2013, the once modern-looking French bistro transformed into a more classic one. Designed by Jeffrey Beers International, the new DB Bistro Moderne now has a chic bar ready to serve you custom cocktails, classic tipples or excellent French wine.
The rest of the space feels new as well. Three rooms connect together railroad style, each with defining characteristics. The wood-paneled front room has a large communal table, fixed banquets and forgoes the white linen in favor of bare wood tables. On the wall, marvel at photos of Boulud as a child, as well as antique visages from the chef’s hometown of Lyon. The next area features a handful of cozy booths, and beyond that, you find the more fine-dining side of the bistro, where tablecloths rule the private tables.
The menu also got a revamp by Boulud and executive chef Jim Burke, and it offers plenty of market-driven French-American bites. It's classic-bistro-meets-modern-cuisine; the menu is broken into Classique and Du Marche, which translates to "of the market" and encompasses dishes that feature local and seasonal fare. This includes Maine lobster with eggplant mayonnaise, dry-aged prime rib cote de boeuf, warm kale salad with duck confit, a fantastic garganelli pasta with rabbit ragout and fall root vegetables, as well as the previous menu’s famous DB burger, a beef patty stuffed with short rib and foie gras on a Parmesan roll. For a good sample of the offerings, try one of the special three-course prix fixes, which include menus for a power lunch (two-course menu is $32, three-course option is $40, available Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) and one for pre-theater dining ($48, Tuesday through Saturday 5 to 6:30 p.m.).
The wine program, run by sommelier Joe Camper, is also worth checking out since there are numerous wines by the glass, with options ranging from value-driven wines, to exclusive selections that usually are only available by the bottle. For the latter, the New York restaurant uses a Coravin device that draws wine from a bottle without uncorking it, which keeps the air out and the rest of the contents fresh. Naturally, while DB Bistro Moderne stocks wine from around the world, the focus is on the French variety — from Burgundy to the Rhône to Bordeaux, just about anything you could hope for is in the cellar.