Thelma on Clinton. 29A Clinton St. Lower East Side. NYC

A Diner’s Deck card (from a pack of $10 gift certificates) brought us here after two other restaurants we’d chosen were closed that night, and how serendipitous; we would never normally have chosen French cuisine for a date night. It really is a beautiful bistro with personable service and chef/owner Melissa O’Donnell hanging out at the bar, teasing me about the glass I had just broken. We had the creamy cauliflower soup which was truffly heaven, and the miso-glazed salmon seared perfectly on a bed of cukes and red onion. I can’t remember the prices of anything we had, and with food this good, frankly, I couldn’t have cared (check out http://thelmaonclinton.com/menus if you do though). A good selection of beer and wine means that we’ll be back here again too.

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Subway: Essex St / Delancey St

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Mominette Bistro. 221 Knickerbocker Ave, Brooklyn. NYC

Brunch at this French bistro is a popular neighbourhood activity, since there really isn’t much around but a paucity of bars amongst an abundance of random pawn shops and fried chicken joints. Mominette stands out – not in frontage but in quality – and their outdoor space at the back is delightful. The spinach & goat cheese croissant ($10) is a crowd favourite, and the French toast ($9) is colourful. The Sunday special oyster Benedict was wonderful, with the shellfish deep fried and placed on sturdy poached eggs and English muffins. I also had a tasty beets’n’bourbon cocktail that was begging for some ice and a taller glass. Though it can be expensive, service is great, and the kitchen is quick to fulfill orders at busy periods.
This restaurant will surely go down as one of the forerunners in Bushwick’s blossoming.

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Subway: Jefferson St/ Dekalb Ave

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Cinquante-cinq. Plage de Pampelonne, St.Tropez

Our group of six were seated next to Philip Green’s table, ten metres from the beach. They created quite the fuss halfway through their meal when most of the t-shirted kids jumped and squatted on their chairs, fearful of a huge bluebottle that had flown under their table. But one of the Green teens promptly killed it using an overpriced Havaiiana. SlickPhil looked merely amused. People arrive at this beach club by yacht, ferrchrissakes.
The food was better than my first time here, a year ago. Paella was a Sunday special and MJ suggested that it was on the menu as the proprietors could smell the Madrileños coming.

We made more than a dent on the crudités boat: a cornucopia of fresh local produce, raw and crunchy, with a hollandaise-style sauce. Seafood is fresh, fish is firm, and dips, sauces and dressings are reassuringly buttery. This stuff goes well with the light rosé wine served on the Cote d’Azur.

And after you finish your meal, the beach beckons. We dipped a toe in the water and walked on the crowded beach, tipsy and sun-drenched.

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10 minutes drive from St Tropez town centre.

 

L’Escale. 9 Quai Jean Jaurès, Saint-Tropez

We took a table here as Le Quai was packed and standing on the street waiting in a mass of rubberneckers just didn’t appeal to us. Don’t be deceived by the sand on the floor – this place ain’t that hip. The average age was pushing 55 and few of the younger Eurotrashers congregate here. They’re usually at Le Quai at this time of night.
Risotto was good, as was the fish and the wine, and what soon became fishy wine…
There was one disappointment: the seafood linguini here is a bland confection of well-textured pasta and prawns, with a mussel or two. Asking for a chilli dressing produced a limp Asian chilli vinegar and then sending it back to the kitchen didn’t do much either: the only low note of the evening, apart from the glum looks on some of the diners’ faces.

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Centre of St Tropez