31 Lewis St, Binghamton, NY | Directions 1390142.103238 -75.909240
Outstanding – WOnderful restaurant located in the newly restored Kilmer Building on the corner of Lewis & Chenango Streets. The ambiance is fantastic; casual & cool. The food is very tasty and the portions, which I was surprised, ample. The prices are actually very good. I ordered the salmon, which had a wonderul flavor to it. I especially enjoyed it with the potatoe and spinach. My wife ordered the "frenched" chicken which was pan seared and the apple cider glaze was delightful. Another ordered the Coq au vin, which was ample, tender and cooked to perfection. The rest ordered steaks and all enjoyed. We topped it with creme brulee for all and it was truly one the of the best eveings I've out in a very long time.
Yikes! – We are "restaurant snobs" and half expect that dining at a French restaurant in Binghamton doesn't seem optimistic but wanted to give this place a try. This atmosphere is interesting and nice though the acoustics for carrying on a normal conversation are tricky and the nice jazz music was a wee bit loud. There is a coat attendant which is nice. The wait staff were attentive and pretty helpful, though when we asked about wine suggestions we were told the owner would come by and help but he never did. The wine list is of a good size - not too many to be confusing but a very good selection, and nicely organized, though wildly overpriced. We each ordered club soda which came out as tonic water and was the first thing that had to go back.
My daughter's escargot was delicious though not in shells which was a bit of a let down as it makes a dramatic and anticipated presentation, and my beet and goat cheese salad was interesting and nicely flavored (not over-flavored which I liked). We didn't have salad forks, though the tables around us did - pay attention to these details! - and no bread plates, though the waitstaff was attentive about keeping the table clean, a nice touch.
My daughter's monk fish was overdone though tasty. It was supposed to come with salsify. It came with mashed potatoes and 3 tiny slices of salsify (we think). What happened next was almost surreal. My coq au vin arrived which was very ample - two whole chicken legs (leg and thigh x 2) over mashed with a nice sauce. It was supposed to be slow cooked in red wine. I would have expected it to be tender and about to come off the bone and was really looking forward to it. I tried to take a bite and had to cut it with a knife. I looked inside, and not very deep, and it was very pink. I attributed this to it being slow cooked and in wine so tried to overlook it, though I am paranoid of undercooked meats especially chicken. It didn't taste right to me. I cut a little more and copious amounts of raspberry red bl o o d appeared. Ugh. The meat was also red near the bone. I of course sent it back, and was definitely not hungry anymore. The waitstaff said it was cooked but I cut a vein. The owner came out (if he did this earlier he could have sold us more expensive wine) and apologized and said it is natural for free range chicken to do that but that it was cooked through. As I am a well-experienced cook, I know for a fact that chicken, when cooked through, does not bl e e d like this and comes away from the bone when prompted, which this did not. He continued to argue with me that the chicken was cooked and proceeded to explain how when the chicken is butchered, they cut off its head and it is hung and sometimes the blo od doesn't all come out. I can tell you that this certainly did not improve my appetite. Were he to own up to the most-clearly uncooked chicken, I might not have been prompted to write this review.
We were not charged for the chicken of course, but one might have expected that we would have been comped dessert or coffee or something. We weren't looking for this but we know it would have been a classy thing to do and helps smooth out a situation. We weren't... and the meal for two people which included a bottle of one of the least expensive wines and dessert, and included only ONE entree (and no steaks mind you), came to $99.
If you want to run an upscale French restaurant and charge somewhat high prices (though admittedly they weren't out of site which you can't really do in this area), you better be sure things like this never ever happen. There are many really good restaurants in the area where you can get a reliably good meal, including steaks and seafood, which are family-owned, and are far less expensive and there is better attention to detail. I will opt for Cacciatore's any day, or Tony's or others, and I know there is a 99% chance I will leave not only happy, but very happy with more money in my pocket and another meal in my hand.
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