From January 2006 100 Very Best Restaurants
THE SCENE. This big, welcoming brasserie with its brass accents, art nouveau glass, and bentwood chairs is the place to go for seafood towers the way they're done at La Coupole and the classics that stoked America's love of Gallic fare back when French was the one of the few "ethnic" foods you could find in America. Most locals end up here sooner or later, so the room sometimes feels like one big party as neighbors stop to meet and greet.
WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. Raw-bar choices impress, with a changing roster that includes periwinkles, langoustines, and Taylor Bay scallops along with clams and a half dozen kinds of oysters, from Belons to Malpeques. The wine list is accommodating, with a majority of bottles under $40.
WHAT YOU WON'T. When the place is crowded, service can seem a bit rushed. Families with young children are usually ushered to the back of the dining room.