La Crémaillère Tops Our Bucket List
La Crémaillère Tops Our Bucket List: If you think La Crémaillère is a restaurant for blue-haired ladies from Greenwich, you don’t know Greenwich. Or La Crémaillère. In fact, La Crème, if we may, attracts an eclectic mix of date-nighters, power diners and families who’ve been saving up all year so mom can amortize the cost of that party dress that she otherwise may never wear again.
Indeed, just because La Crémaillère has been a fixture on the landscape of Bedford for many years, “this is not just your grandmother’s restaurant anymore,” says Bobbie Meyzen who along with her husband Robert are La Crémaillère’s proprietors. And after a good week in the stock market, the front room, filled with local hedgies, can take on a party atmosphere with lots of cross-table chatter.
A perennial Top Ten Restaurant in Westchester/Hudson Valley (Zagats), La Crémaillère was named one of America’s Most Beloved Restaurants by Town & Country, and was voted one of the 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America by OpenTable diners in 2017. It tops our Bucket List of area eateries for foodies, people watchers and anyone that calls the ABC towns home.
The Original Farm to Table Restaurant
La Crémaillère’s clientele has skewed younger in recent years due to a growing appreciation of their longstanding farm to table practices and the growing appeal of lighter, contemporary French cooking. Their seasonal menu “is based on the classics,” Bobbie explains. “We use Escoffier-style recipes, but instead of so much butter and cream, our sauces are stock-based. We make fish, vegetable, and meat stock every week, so our sauces are flavor-based. We get flavor from the ingredients and just a touch of cream. It’s healthful and made from scratch. We use local purveyors and farms—so everything’s very fresh.”
And its signature dishes are numerous and memorable. Favorites include the escargot with pine nuts; duck confit with lentils, carrots and merlot reduction; scallops with champagne sauce; rack of lamb; and “quenelles de brochet”—pike whipped into a light dumpling, with a lobster reduction. Dessert choices include crème brûlée, warm apple tart with vanilla ice cream, and iced raspberries with warm white chocolate sauce. They also offer gluten-free and low-salt dishes, as well as vegetarian selections.
La Crémaillère prepares its own pâtés and terrines—and is one of the few restaurants that make the very challenging soufflé. Even the ever-popular French fries—or “frites,”—are extraordinary. “The way we cook them is fantastic—crispy and delicious, fried in a special oil, really hot and really fast,” says Bobbie, “and the way they are served on a cake tray is unique—it comes out with a big flourish.”
The man responsible for overseeing the kitchen is Chef de Cuisine Albert Astudillo, who has been with the Meyzens since 1993. Starting out by chopping vegetables and prepping, Albert learned the tricks of the trade over the years from four chefs to the point where, says Bobbie, “He is perfect. His sauces are unparalleled. He is wonderful.”
La Crémaillère’s award-winning wine cellar has 14,000 bottles of wine—mostly from France and California, but also featuring one very precious bottle from the Civil War era. The Meyzens buy wine futures, determining the best vintages from year to year, and they obviously have a talent for it, as the restaurant has won a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence.
La Crème in the movies
Adding to the dining experience is the charming and cozy décor with its fabulous wall murals by Jean Pajet, depicting traditional regional costumes from French provinces. Upstairs in the Provence room are exposed wood beams from the 1700s, when the house was built. And one table in the restaurant is famous for being the place Ryan O’Neal and Candice Bergen dined in the motion picture Oliver’s Story, the sequel to Love Story.
From Stage Coaches to the Porsche 911
The building itself is steeped in history. Known as the “Widow Brush House,” it was part of a 100-acre farm owned by Deborah Rush, who lived there in the 1700s with her eight children. Over the years, the property served as a stop along the stagecoach route, a two-family home, and a ladies’ golf club. Then, in 1947, Antoine Gilly, proprietor of the French restaurant La Crémaillère in New York City, bought the site and turned it into La Crémaillère à la Campagne (La Crémaillère in the Country).
Robert Meyzen’s father came to the U.S. from France with the French Pavilion at the 1939-1940 World’s Fair. When Henri Soule started Le Pavillon in New York in 1941, French cuisine was just being introduced to New York City. In 1960, Robert Sr. and his business partner, Fred Decré, established La Caravelle in New York City, which earned the highest ratings from food guidebooks, and the attention of many celebrities, including Joseph Kennedy. (Indeed, some of La Caravelle’s recipes, including champagne chicken, were later made in the Kennedy White House.) The following year Meyzen and Decré purchased La Crémaillère on Bedford-Banksville Road that became their country restaurant. Eventually they moved the business permanently to Bedford.
During his growing-up years, young Robert worked in his father’s restaurant, learning every aspect of the business. “He did his homework in the wine cellar,” explains Bobbie. “He shucked oysters and helped in the kitchen and as a busboy.” Every holiday from school he was on duty and, in 1974, he joined the full-time staff. In 1993, Robert Jr. and Bobbie bought the restaurant from his father—and have carried on the proud tradition, serving and pleasing generations of customers.
Coming in July
Beginning in July, La Crémaillère will offer (through Groupon) a nine-course tasting menu. “It will be a little more adventuresome than the current tasting menu, a little more ‘eleganzo.’”
(46 Bedford-Banksville Rd., Bedford, 914.234.9647; frenchcountryrestaurant.com)
By Elena Serocki
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