Over the years, I have walked past Bar Six probably hundreds of times. Many of those times, I would be walking down the Avenue of the Americas towards Lifethyme Market (with the iconic Jefferson Market Library in front of me) to get some goodies from Lifethyme’s excellent vegan bakery (and I am remiss for not telling you about that – a subject for a future post, no doubt). And when I would pass Bar Six, I would think, “wow, that looks like a really nice restaurant – I’ll have to try it out sometime!”
“Sometime,” I am happy to report, finally arrived. Bar Six was brought to our attention by Broadcast Eats NY, a service that offers discounts via email to featured New York City restaurants. We read the offer for 30% off dinner at Bar Six, and thought, “French Moroccan? Why not?”
At first, we were thinking we would be spontaneous. But wouldn’t you know, we called on a Saturday afternoon for an evening reservation, and they were booked! So then we made a reservation on Open Table for the following weekend, but it turned out that we never made it there that weekend (being good diners, we called and cancelled). Finally, on the third try, we made our reservation, and honored them, and had a very nice Saturday evening dinner.
God knows that there are any number of New York City restaurants who claim to be just like French bistros. Usually, all that means is that the tables in those restaurants are the size of a postage stamp, and the menu is overpriced. In the case of Bar Six, though, I think they earn the title. Take it from Therese and I, who were in Paris just a few weeks ago. We walked into Bar Six, and immediately felt like we were back in Paris. The tin ceilings, ceiling fans and mirrored walls (with the day’s specials written on them in grease pencil) give it all the ambiance of a French bistro.
The food confirmed our first impressions. I started with a lobster and avocado dip with a red pepper aioli and toasted pita chips for dipping. The aioli had just a hint of Moroccan spice, and the toasted pita chips were perfect for gathering many perfect bites of lobster morsels, creamy avocado and spicy aioli.
For my main course, I had hanger steak frites with Bordelaise sauce. My first experience of Bordelaise sauce had been just a few weeks earlier at Brasserie Paul in Rouen. Here, as at Brasserie Paul, it was no problem apparently to create the sauce dairy free. I was excited to see if Bar Six’s would be anything like the rich Bourdeaux wine sauce in Rouen.
This was indeed a very respectable steak with Bordelaise sauce, with a couple of alterations. First, in keeping with the restaurant’s French Moroccan theme, there was definitely a hint of North African spice in the Bordelaise sauce – but in this case, the spice made little impression on the flavor and only gave the sauce a bit of an orange-ish tint. Second, the frites were the kind of skinny fries we tend to favor here in the U.S., rather than the meatier fries favored by French restaurants (and Belgian frite aficionados).
I must fault myself for not asking for the Bordelaise sauce on the side (as I had thought to do at Brasserie Paul). While having it on the plate was nice for the slices of buttery soft hanger steak, the frites that rested in the sauce grew soggy, and if there’s one thing that has little appeal for me, it’s a soggy frite. Luckily, with such a huge plate of frites, many did not swim in the sauce and therefore retained their crunchiness. All the better, to wash them down with a lovely glass of Chimay Blue ale.
Like a true French restaurant, there was nothing dairy free on the dessert menu other than a bowl of sorbet (or a dessert wine). But that was of no consequence, since two courses had been plenty to fill me up. As the last slice of hanger steak found its proper resting place in my belly, I was very happy to be transported, in decor and in food, back to our wonderful time in France. It may have taken me many years to get to Bar Six for the first time, but it won’t be years before we return!