After thumbing through pics of lamb carpaccio and foie gras in crispy bric dough scattered throughout my IG feed for the past month, I attempted to snag a table at Dirty French, the latest venture from Team Torrisi focused on French cuisine with Moroccan and Southeast influences.
Since they opened around Labor Day, tables earlier than 10pm were nonexistent and it took about two weeks until I received a call that a last minute table opened up around 8pm. So much for the Barry’s Bootcamp session I had planned to attend that evening.
Running a few minutes late, I walked past Katz’s when my eyes were naturally drawn to the bright pink neon signs silently screaming out DIRTY FRENCH.
Sohee and I walked in and saw the cutest frog butler holding a stack of cards in bright pink, their signature color. After a short wait, we were led to a table near the bar where the bartender looked pretty spiffy in his white tux and red bowtie.
As we perused the gorgeous menus printed on textured paper, I was nervous because most of the early reviews lambasted the restaurant for horrible service and dishes being 86’d midway through service but the Jackson 5 blaring from the speakers put me at ease and made me want to groove.
We listened to the specials of the evening but decided to skip the cote de beouf as it was $189 for 44 oz. Instead, we went for the foie gras appetizer, the short ribs, and the porgy fillet as recommended by the knowledgeable waiter who answered all my questions with patience.
The complimentary made to order flatbread with herbs was still warm from the kitchen and served on a polished silver tray. On the side sat a huge dollop of creamy fromage blanc that easily pwns the familiar plate of stale rolls and cold butter served at too many establishments.
Since it only came with one piece of bread, I put in an order for an extra slice of bread but instead received a brand new order complete with cheese. Not complaining.
The foie gras plate was brought out within minutes and although my preferred preparation for foie is seared vs terrine, this particular rendition proved there is always more than one way to nirvana.
The smooth foie filling benefitted from the bric dough’s wafer-like texture as well as the streaks of date puree which cut through the richness of the foie along with squeezed lemon that brightened the dish overall. The taste of the date puree instantly transported me back to 5th grade - my chinese friends know what’s up when I say that it tasted like the inimitable Haw Flakes.
The comfortable pacing continued when the short ribs and porgy were brought to the table. As Sohee started on the short rib, I cut a nice piece of porgy and brought it to my mouth. Very flavorful and juicy while the crispy skin injected another layer of flavor. It was served butterflied with a variety of herbs such as tarragon and chervil.
The acidity of the dish came from the green tomatoes and talleggio olives in light pickled marinade. Well-balanced and a hearty portion that is great for sharing.
The short ribs au poivre meant that it was coated with one of my favorite things in the world: green and black peppercorns. From the first bite to the last, there were fireworks in my mouth.
The short rib had a great balance between Thai and Vietnamese flavor profiles with the meat being marinated in hoisin and fish sauce along with Kaffir lime juice. Bold, sweet, and tangy, this dish satisfied in terms of flavor even if the short ribs were slightly overcooked.
I enjoyed both dishes that were on opposite ends of the spectrum. One one hand you have the porgy that was light, refined, and dotted with notes of acidity while the short ribs’ pungent fish sauce, sweet hoisin, and smoldering peppercorns made you clear your throat. My only disappointment was that for $33, the dish should have come with more than 3 pieces of short ribs.
We had dessert plans somewhere else but next time, I’m trying the cote de beouf, lamb saddle, and the duck dusted with ras el hanout, a spice that I adore but can’t find on many menus.
At the end of the delicious meal I was reminded to not rush too quickly to judgment. I’m guilty of this all the time when it comes to not only restaurants (only 3.5 stars on yelp? uh, skip) but movies as well (I don’t watch movies with a RT score of <65%).
In this case, don’t believe the Yelp haters and form your own opinions after dining at Dirty French.
Get: I would happily re-order the three dishes I got. Each had its own layers of flavors that provided a welcome departure from my usual Japanese/chinese cuisine. For two people, one app and two entrees was just the right amount of food. We could have ordered a side (the pommes frites and cauliflower roti looked tempting) but that would have put us over the edge.
Service: As you can see from the dismal Yelp reviews, most of them mention bad service, rude servers, and languid pacing. My experience was the total opposite. Both the server and expediters checked in repeatedly to ask how the food was and if they could do anything to help. I appreciated my server's knowledge as he described the marinade and process in cooking the short ribs. When we left, all 3 hostesses made eye contact, smiled and bid us farewell.
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