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Oh Paradou, I Heart You

Finally, a good place to eat in the Meatpacking District. Paradou, a small restaurant crammed between 5 Ninth and Revel, gets high scores on both atmosphere and food. This isn’t just a stopover destination for clubbers seeking a place to eat; this is a real culinary establishment, a diamond in the rough.

Just off 9th Ave on Little West 12th, this charming French restaurant stole my heart and the hearts of my dining companions, even despite the 20 minute wait to sit down. Comprised of a cramped front room with tables for two and four and a more spacious back ‘garden’ with larger tables for groups, Paradou brings the essence of Provence to downtown Manhattan. Paradou is the type of quaint that fashionable New Yorkers love – cozy while still being luxurious and elegant. White-washed brick walls, high airy ceilings, French countryside knick-knacks, and furniture made from vintage wine crates transport you from clubbing central to the center of a French provencal village – almost, if it weren’t for the pounding beat next door.

The main event here though is the food. Seasonal, classic, and delicious, the provencal cuisine has something for everyone. My party of 6 really run the gamut, sampling a variety of plates off the relatively limited menu. For appetizers, we had the salmon tartare, the herb salad with roasted tomatoes, and the arugula and poached pear salad. For entrees, we tried out the daily special of walnut-stuffed quail, the wild boar tenderloin, the bay scallops, the duck duo, and the rack of lamb. The menu was varied and surprising. I had expected traditional roast chicken, steak tartare, and soup. While these were on the menu, they were joined by innovative and refreshing dishes from the South of France. Each dish was beautifully presented and fragrant with herbs and spices.

The service at Paradou was the only downside. Very authentically French, things moved slowly. We had to wait 20 minutes for our table, despite having a reservation, and then another 25 minutes at the end of the meal for our check. Our waiter was not exactly warm or welcoming and the bus boys kept pouring water in our beer glasses.

However, despite the table service difficulties, the meal was still very pleasant. The food and irresistable charm satisfied the whole party, leaving all satiated and smiling. Paradou is ideal for a romantic date (request the front room!) or a larger party (request the garden!) looking for a lowkey good time. It’s uncomplicated and hearty while still maintaining a level of sophistication. Sweet and authentic, avoid the throngs outside nearby French bistro Pastis and sneak off to this hidden riff on bucolic Provencal cuisine.

Paradou on Urbanspoon

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