Dining ReviewSacrebleu, Le Magnifique is delicious
Staff Writer Le Magnifique is a small french bistro owned and operated by Stephanie Monserrat- Laurent on the corner of 74th Street and Lexington Avenue, a very short stroll from Hunter.
Upon entering Le Magnifique, one ascends into a dimly lit room: to the left there are booths, to the right, a small series of tables close enough to slightly hinder movement between them. The atmosphere tendentiously summons the words “bistro”, “southern France”, and “Carafes”. This not so subtle atmosphere is only further reinforced by the addition of the preposition “Le”, “La”, and “Les” in front of every dish on the menu. The lighting is soft and the view from the window achieves a fine hazing balance-- looking down, through smoked windows, diners feel elevated to the perfect height above the street.
In the appetizer section of the menu a variety of choices await. There were rarities such as salmon carpaccio ($21), salads ranging from the standard fair of mixed greens ($9) to the Byzantine “Notre Salade Nicoise” ($19) with major parts consisting of yellow tuna, string beans, onions, olives and anchovies. Scanning the entree section of the menu there is everything from braised lamb shank to sautéed sea scallops.
To start, I ordered the Classic French onion soup ($10) – the broth was smooth, robust, beefy and topped off with a melted cheese. For my entree, I ordered the steak tartare ($23), accompanied by steak frites. I know I may be one of few tartare aficionados at Hunter, but for that minority group who knows the pleasures of raw steak, Le Magnifique will not disappoint. The tartare was velvety and gentle, the hue was a fine demure pink, while the vinegar gave it the pop and flavor that can, in lesser tartare, be so lacking. The fries were hand cut and had a crisp oil and garlic exterior that gave way to easy and tender insides. The service was prompt and personal without being intrusive. The second time I visited Le Magnifique, it was warm enough to enough our enjoy food al fresco. However, while the food was as well prepared as the first time, the service was far from sublime. We waited on multiple occasions for condiments, menus, and bread. Once the dessert order was placed the waiter returned 15 minutes later only to inform us that the ingredients could not be located. Disappointed, my dining partner ordered a cup of coffee, and again we were faced with a ten minute wait. However, as luck would have it, the waiter returned with a cup in each hand. Mine was on the house. Apart from the service, the outside dining was very nice. Unlike upstairs dining room the tables were well spaced, allowing both for mobility and audibility and for a rather busy corner, the dining area was surprisingly quiet and private.
The only drawback is that the prices might be steep for many college students. On the dinner menu, appetizers range from $9.00 to $21.00, entrees were priced from $19.00 to $34.00 dollars. However, one does not have to spend more than $35.00 (tip included) on a tasty, if not spottily served, meal. They accept both debit and credit cards. So, if you’ve just aced that big midterm and want to celebrate with a nice meal, Le Magnifique would be an excellent choice.