The Bistro Chat Noir is a cozy slice of Francophilia near Central Park. The bistro, with its walnut-tinted floors, café au lait striped walls, and red-stained chairs made me think me of Provence: I could almost smell the lavender fields and feel the terroir. We unexpectedly found the Chat Noir after a Sunday walk through Central Park. The restaurant was a perfect compliment to a summer afternoon.
I ordered a Ricard pastis and my wife a Kir Royale and we settled into a comfortable side table. The Chat Noir is, as I learned afterwards, a very nice place to celebrity spot if such activity spurs your interest: Ashton and Mila, the talented Ms. Hathaway, the age-defying (a Faustian bargain perhaps?) Madonna, and the fastidious Ms. Wintour have all dined there. There was nobody who interested the paparazzi the afternoon we were there (or at least none of whom we were aware) and we ate in relative quiet.
The food came quickly, for me the steak tartare and for my wife the lentils. The food was simple and good and classically French. In a city where there seems to be to be a preponderance of great cafes and bistros and restaurants, it is still nice to stumble upon a place that gets it very right.