Belcourt’s got all the goods and none of the delivery. This charming-looking bistro on the corner of E.4th and 2nd Avenue features a tempting menu, beautiful breezy open-air decor, expansive sidewalk patio space, a casual cool clientele, and a small bar perfect for lunch-time lounging. And yet, the food at Belcourt can be described as nothing short of awful.
If the totally unpretentious yet uber-stylish Parisian vibe doesn’t pull you in, the casual wraparound sidewalk patio right on 2nd Avenue in the East Village is sure to. You can’t get a more ideal location for a pre night-out dinner during the warmer months than Belcourt. The vintage look is done perfectly without seeming over done – slightly scraped wooden tables, antique mirrors, rich cherry red leather bar stools, and Deco light fixtures that shed a pale white glow over hipster-chic diners evoke brasseries along Rue St. Germain.
And yet, none of this style could possibly make up for the terrible food. The menu features seemingly inventive twists on traditional French brasserie cuisine – though the offerings change seasonally, expect such options as a rotating cheese, charcuterie and oysters bar, stuffed ravioli based on market available ingredients, grilled hanger steak, roast chicken, and a burger. Everything from the meager bone marrow tacos to the out-of-a-can roast cauliflower soup to the too-fatty-to-eat lamb and stingy grilled octopus starter ranged from disappointing to inedible. The bone marrow tacos were impossible to eat with very little actual marrow to work with, and the grilled octopus was chewy, undersalted, and just too small; the roast cauliflower soup was more of a thick puree with unappetizing pools of oil on top; the lamb was so fatty that my friend Teddy couldn’t find enough meat to eat, and the Persian spice-rubbed roast chicken lacked any true flavor. The beef burger was easily the only highlight of the night (how hard is it to really screw up a burger) with a generous topping of melty blue cheese and well-seasoned fries.
Perhaps bad food would have been forgiven in tandem with the charming atmosphere and some good cocktails, but unfortunately each of the 4 or 5 house drinks we tried were equally as awful as the food. The Manhattan cocktail might as well have been cheap bottom-shelf whisky on the rocks – the sweet vermouth must have been forgotten; the Sangria was acceptable yet gave me such horrific stomach pains that my boyfriend had to run across the street to the 24hr deli for Pepto; the Moscow Mule tasted decent, if you have a personal fetish for ginger, and the Vin d’Orange just failed on the flavor combination front (grappa, white wine, lemon, and orange aren’t great partners).
Belcourt’s got a great premise and an even better location, yet take my word for it, you don’t want to be stuck eating here; your $35-40 can be put to much better use at neighborhood restaurants such as Dirt Candy, Graffiti, Motorino, Luke’s Lobster, or even The Smith.
Perfect For: wine drinking on the patio, cheese & oysters, outdoor boozing, people-watching, hobnobbing with hipsters