The French Rendezvouz
Excuse My French
96 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
On the Lower East Side, along Delancey and Orchard St., lies the quaint and sophisticated hallway-esque restaurant, Excuse My French. This French restaurant with the tagline “Bar, Tapas, Atmosphere,” classifies itself as a more sophisticated French bistro. With its gold and green wallpaper and alluring paintings with gold frames, Excuse My French transports you to a chic French apartment. The jaunty owner, Ricardo Valdez, says his inspiration for the decor drew from a family member of his. “The idea is that you’re in an old lady’s apartment in Paris. That reminds me of my grandmother with the paintings and everything,” Valdez said. His business partner and executive chef Johann Giraud, says everything you see in the restaurant is all thanks to Valdez and his creative eye. “I had nothing to do with it. Everything here, the lighting, the paintings, the color, that’s all Ricardo. The food and the menu is my creation,” Giraud said.
The Mexican owner and French chef first met while working together at a previous restaurant. Giraud takes the culinary art very seriously and is always on focus mode to satisfy the customers with his dishes. “I like to serve French food with a smile on the face of the customers. When they leave, they’re happy and they want to come back,” Giraud said. Although the two owners have opposing personalities, Valdez’s eye for decor and Giraud love of French cooking has allowed for this pair to successfully run a restaurant in one of the busiest New York boroughs.
Its tapas menu means everything coming to your table will be shareable. Some of its menu choices include Foie Gras, Duck Confeit Parmentier, Escargot and one of the popular options sauteed Brussel Sprouts. How can brussel sprouts be popular you ask? The chef put a French spin on it and made it extremely flavorful, topping it off with almonds, balsamic and cranberries. However according to the chef, what really makes it whole is adding the secret ingredient of Piment d’Espelette. The reddish pepper powder comes from the south of France and is what gives the dish its intriguing flavor.
Along with the French inspired menu, is a hefty cocktail list. One of the more popular drinks is L’Antonieta. This cocktail is a mezcal, cointreau, lime and butterfly pea syrup mixture. The butterfly pea causes the drink to change color when it interacts with the lime. With this drink comes a description, “This drink is in honor of Antonieta Rivas de Marcado, who killed herself on the altar of Notre Dame in Paris. She was a Mexican intellectual, writer, feminist and helped finance literary lounges and the Orquestra Sinfonica of Mexico City.” The purple color of the drink represents her sadness. Once the citrus is added, the drink changes to a purple-pinkish color, representing her bleeding heart for love.
The kitchen, the bar and the seating area are all within a few feet from each other. While the space is rather compact, it allows for a more intimate setting. The fact that everyone is near each other adds to its essence. A great spot for romance or even for a casual solo meal, Excuse My French will leave a lasting impression on you. If you ever want to experience a stylish French bistro, make your way to the LES and try one of their delicious cocktails or meals and soak in the fascinating atmosphere.
Watch the interview there!