183 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(646) 486-3000

Le Grainne Cafe is where I'd go with Speeds when we were craving comfort food. Of course, we're atypical and craved French comfort food. There are very few places I can think of that create a perfect atmosphere. Very few places where you can eat alone, at a table reading the newspaper, without feeling like a total loser. Very few places where you can feel just as comfortable showing up right after work wearing a tie as you'd be having just rolled out of bed after an early evening nap in jeans and yesterday's t-shirt. And yet such a place exists. And it's in Chelsea.

Le Grainne Cafe, for me, was all about the Coq Au Vin. I have never had such good coq au vin and it would appear that I might not get the chance again. When Speeds and Dogz showed up for the first meal we'd had together in a few weeks, I hadn't even bothered looking at the menu. They arrived at the corner table in the back I had snagged to see me with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc one glass lighter than it had been ten minutes prior and a closed menu. Had I opened said menu, I'd have discovered, to my horror, that the precious coq au vin was gone. Our smoking hot waitress (with the French accent that made her even more smoking hot) let me know that there weren't enough people ordering it and that, come fall, it was maybe slated to be a special every now and again. "Shit..." came my reply.

Le Grainne, if you ever read this (ha!), bring back the coq au vin!

What we did order, however, was fantastic nonetheless and I will therefore still recommend Le Grainne Cafe as one of the best restaurants in the city, especially for the money. We got, once we decided what we wanted to eat, a loaf of "kickass bread" to borrow Speeds' description, and we proceeded to pound back the wine like it was vodka shots at a college party. On an empty stomach, this can prove be a problem, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Dogz and I ordered Cream of Asparagus Soup to start. I've always loved cream soups and always loved asparagus. Combine them and you normally find a little bit o' heaven. This soup would prove to be no exception. Speeds skipped the appetizers.

Each entree we ordered was excellent. Dogz went for Le Merguez a la Moutarde Forte, a warm, spicy lamb sandwich on a toasted baguette. Speeds ordered the Crepe Maison, a crepe that came with her choice of three fillings from a list of fifteen. She filled it with goat cheese, chicken and mushroom. I tried a bite from each of their meals so I can attest to the alleged excellenticity. My choice, given the smacking down of my initial want, was Le Poulet Roti, roast chicken with a side of string beans and mashed potatoes. A culinarily boring choice, but it tasted great. And besides, we were here for comfort food.

Given that I had just seen a certain Pixar film, that if it convinced me of nothing else convinced me to open up a French bistro, I ordered a side of Ratatouille, something I'd never had before. I thought it tasted pretty good for roasted mixed veggies. Mr. Dogz went so far as to state that it was so good it eclipsed his mother's ratatouille. Though to be fair... she's not French.

By the time it came to order dessert we were well into bottle number two and were well on our way to being pretty hammered. Especially Speeds, who was a lighter weight than I had thought. And yet we ordered anyway. Mr. Dogz got the Orange Caramel Crepe Sucree, Speeds picked the Fondant Chocolat, which is her usual, a chocolate lava cake. Boring. I mean, it tasted good, but how many times in a row can you order a chocolate cake? Variety, people. Variety. I ordered the Raspberry Confiture, a raspberry jam-filled crepe. As the only person to have tried all three desserts, and the only one to have tried Speeds', I can attest to how good they all were.

Alas, we did not get to finish. The only way to avoid having a certain female someone heave all over the table was to rush her home. I know what you're thinking. The bathroom was unavailable. We tossed down a credit card, I wolfed down a few bites of everyone's food as we got up, I sucked down my remaining coffee, and we went outside to wander embarrassedly home.

Two bottles of wine, two soups, a side dish, three entrees, three desserts, and two coffees, plus tax and tip weighed in at $185.50.

UPDATE: 4/4/09
So I went back with Speeds to Le Grainne the other night and we ordered a bunch of things, but none of them I hadn't had before here. Except for the Escargot. Ahhh, escargot. Is anything better than soft, creamy meat covered in garlic and pesto and soaking in butter? Is that a resounding "no" I hear coming from the audience? Le Grainne's escargot are still in the shell and extremely good. But they're a wee bit small. Grab some bread to soak up the garlic butter and you won't notice.

The escargot was about $10.

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