Le Comptoir in Williamsburg is a classic French bistro run by two native Frenchman both with very thick accents.
Just don’t go looking for escargot and onion soup.
“That’s a very false idea of what French cuisine is about,” said chef and co-owner Sebastien Chamaret, formerly of La Goulue restaurant in Manhattan.
“Maybe they made sense 30 or 40 years ago, but to serve those dishes now would be like owning a clothing shop and only selling bellbottoms.”
That’s why Chamaret and partner Adrien Angelvy — who oversees the drinks program with creative cocktails and a carefully curated list of French rosés — are more concerned with seasonal ingredients, contemporary flavors, and menus that change as often as the markets fluctuate.
“If you go to Paris today, you’ll find the same thing,” said Chamaret. “They want to cook and eat what is good at that moment. For us, now, it’s zucchini, corn, fresh berries, not duck a l’orange.”
That’s not to say the Le Comptoir menu is without love for identifiable French flavor — playful takes on classics — like foie gras crème brulee, tuna tartare Japonais, and steak tartare “comme au bistro” — are at the heart of the menu.
“We like to take dishes that have been done and redone and overdone, and kick them up a notch,” Chamaret said.
If you want to kick your next cocktail party up a notch by giving it a little Gallic flair, try these elegant recipes — courtesy of the Le Comptoir team — below.
Le Comptoir [251 Grand St. between Driggs Avenue and Roebling Street in Williamsburg, (718) 486-3300].
Steak tartare “comme au bistro”
Recipe by Sebastien Chamaret
1 pound strip steak or top round, trimmed and chopped
3 tbls cornichons, chopped
2 tbls shallot, finely chopped
3 tbls capers, chopped
1/4 bunch parsley, chopped
2 tbls Dijon mustard
5 tbls ketchup
2 egg yolks
3 tbls extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork. Serve with toasted country bread or baguette and a green salad.
Recipe by Adrien Angelvy
Makes one drink
5 or 6 raspberries, plus 1 for garnish
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce agave nectar
1 ounce St Germain
4 ounce Mas de la Source rosé wine
In a shaker, muddle fresh raspberries with lemon juice and agave nectar. Add a dozen ice cubes, St. Germain and stir everything together until the shaker gets really cold. Add the rosé and stir one more time, then pour into a large red Bordeaux wine glass half-filled with fresh ice cubes. Garnish with a raspberry.