Bite of Lemon Tarte at Dirty French NYC

Lunch at Dirty French in NYC

In NYC, Restaurants by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch28 Comments

We ate a shockingly good lunch at Dirty French in NYC. The Lower East Side restaurant uses bold flavors to create a unique take on French bistro food.

Bite of Lemon Tarte at Dirty French NYC

We were asked in a recent interview: What is your favorite restaurant?

Really?! Our favorite restaurant? In the entire world?!

Has our society really gotten that shallow that we have to rank only one restaurant from a pool of millions? The fact is that it’s hard to keep pace with all the changes in the food scene during the last few decades – nouvelle cuisine, international fusion, farm to table and modernism. We’ve seen and tasted it all. To assign one clear favorite would be a gastronomic injustice.

Many times, chefs find themselves in a constant battle to stay current. Its seems that, in many cases, food changes faster than fashion, and today’s bone broth could become yesterday’s seared ahi tuna.

It’s with this in mind that we write about the shockingly good food we enjoyed over a recent lunch at Dirty French in the Lower East Side’s Ludlow Hotel. With knowledge and unremitting drive, chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone along with Chef de Cuisine Dai Matsuda have created food that’s stylish, tasty and fun at the same time – all in a beautiful, sunlit, museum-like space that feels as casual as a living room.

Inside Dirty French NYC

It’s a pleasure to eat lunch in Dirty French’s vibrant dining room, especially when the sun streams through the windows.

Hors d’Oeuvres at Dirty French

We started with the mushroom millefeuille – a dish dancing with culinary possibility. After cutting into the multiple microscopic layers of light, crispy shaved mushroom, we dipped the millefeuille into the bright, spicy green-pea colored curry made crunchy with bits of fresh celery. The juxtaposition of the refined, delicate mushroom pastry and the bold, spicy sauce is magical.

Millefeuille with Trumpet Royale Mushrooms and Green Sauce Dirty French NYC

The millefeuille is masterfully made with trumpet mushrooms instead of pastry.

Our other starter paled in comparison, but only visually. The simply plated canelle-shaped tuna tartare arrived at the table with a large crispy crêpe and a melange of herbs. As we devoured the succulent chunks of molded sushi grade tuna, the flavor of the subtle Thai chili started to kick in with a slow building heat that warmed our taste buds. It wasn’t long before we abandoned our silverware and scarfed down every bit of tartare with the crêpe.

Tuna Tartare with Bird's Chili and a Crêpe Indochine Dirty French NYC

The deceptively simple tuna tartare is boldly flavored and served with a crêpe Indochine.

Sandwich at Dirty French

We don’t see French Dips on a lot menus these days, so of course we had to order the American classic during our lunch. On one hand, the Dirty French version elevates the classic sandwich to new heights with a traditional French baguette, slow-cooked roast beef and fresh horseradish sauce. On the other hand, eating this sandwich made us wish we had ordered the banh mi for the creatively bold flavors of our meal’s other dishes.

French Dip Sandwich with Dry-Aged Beef, Shallots and Jus Dirty French NYC

Elevated Classic – French Dip Sandwich with Dry-Aged Beef, Shallots and Jus

Entrée at Dirty French

However, we have no second thoughts about ordering the meunière entrée. Made with a brook trout instead of the more traditional sole, this dish is generously prepared with sesame seeds, apricots and lemon. And butter. Lots of butter. We’re not sure if the deep flavors emanate from the meatiness of the trout or from the audacious preparation, but either way it’s an outstanding dish that we will long remember.

Brook Trout Meunière with Sesame Seeds and Dried Apricots Dirty French NYC

The meunière is audaciously prepared with brook trout, sesame seeds, dried apricots and lots of butter.

Flatbread at Dirty French

We would be remiss not to mention the flatbread. The warm, house-made bread is placed on a pedestal, which you’ll understand after you tear off a piece and dip it into the accompanying fromage blanc with olive oil and rosemary.

Flatbread with Fromage blanc and Olive Oil Dirty French NYC

Served on a pedestal, the flatbread is sprinkled with sea salt flakes and comes with herbaceous fromage blanc and olive oil.

Dessert at Dirty French

We chose the citrus tart to end our decadent lunch. The slim tart made with meyer lemons is topped with eight dollops of toasted meringue. Elements like crunchy almonds and tart lemon zest strips round out the dessert, not to mention the flavor-zinging salt flakes.

Citrus Tarte made with Preserved Lemon, Almonds and Toasted Meringue Dirty French NYC

Citrus Tart made with Preserved Lemon, Almonds and Toasted Meringue

Final Thoughts on our Lunch at Dirty French

It wasn’t until we were on the subway headed back uptown that we realized that our server neglected to bring us a side dish of haricots asiatique (Yes. The service wasn’t perfect – something we’re willing to overlook because the food was so good.) We were bummed since we had really wanted to try the restaurant’s mash-up of French green beans and Asian spices. When we return for dinner, hopefully we’ll get everything that we order. Until then, we’ll dream about the perfect bite of millefeuille that was the highlight of our lunch.

Bite of Millefeuille Dirty French NYC

Perfect Bite of Millefeuille

Tasting tip: Consider eating lunch at Dirty French instead of dinner. Midday meals are a good value, plus it’s easier to score a reservation.

Dirty French is located at The Ludlow hotel, 180 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002, United States.

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    1. Author

      You really should check out Dirty French. Not only is the food great, but you also won’t get electrocuted by the computer.

  1. I’m always on the lookout for great places to eat. The Lower East Side is right over the bridge from where I live in Brooklyn. I’ll have to do lunch at Dirty French!

  2. Glad to know I’m not the only one who has a hard time with the “favorite restaurant” question! I never know how to respond, as you wrote there are so many cuisines, styles, price points…how can you pick one? (Or 10, or 50 for that matter).
    Stacy recently posted…Review: W.A. Frost and CompanyMy Profile

  3. Wow, I love the sound of this restaurant. Really, there are so many good places, hard to pick one. My brother lives in NYC and I have not heard of this. THe food looks scrumptious and your photography really depicts how yummy it looks. I love the entree, the desert looked really delectible! Will have to try when I am there. Thank you for this well written review.


    1. Author

      Not that there’s anything wrong with cheeseburgers and french fries!

  4. Dirty French looks absolutely wonderful! I will definitely check it out the next time I am in New York, which will probably be either end of July or beginning of June! Can’t wait! I had mille-feuille years ago in France and they made it with a very flaky croissant. I still crave it to this day.
    Nancy Lustri recently posted…Spring Break Must Haves! {Beauty & Fashion}My Profile

  5. All this food looks amazing. When you mentioned the flatbread you totally had me there! I am a big bread lover and anything with olive oil and bread is my type of thing. The tarte looks so delicious with the meringue on top and I love lemon and think it gives such a refreshing flavor especially after a big meal. I also do not really have a favorite restaurant and never sure how to answer that either. I think every restaurant has their own thing and offers something different that we all may enjoy at one time or another. I have many restaurants that are on my top list that I would re-visit over and over again.

  6. Oh man, I am SO glad I read this when my lunch is about to be ready (2 more minutes in the oven–whew!) because now I’m starving. I’ve actually never been to NYC before, but they have sooo much food to offer. I’ll be visiting for the first time in May, to reunite with other past BHers, so we may have to check this place out!
    Beth recently posted…March Updates + Meet This Month’s Featured Bloggers!My Profile

  7. The language you use to describe the food is fantastic. You both have such a sensitive eye for what makes each element of the meal special. I would definitely consider heading to this restaurant the next time Im in the city. Also I agree with your early comments about not wanting to have to rank one restaurant above all others. This kind of hierarchical thinking is sill in the vast world of cuisine.
    Rebecca Schnirman recently posted…Female Warm Weather Capsule WardrobeMy Profile

  8. Ohlala this looks so good! It’s 2:30 and I haven’t had lunch and now I’m RAVENOUS! I love that this place is in NYC- I have no excuse not to check it out! I think I’ll take your advice and aim for lunch sometime!

    1. Author

      Please let us know how much you love Dirty French after you eat there!

  9. Love this review. I am looking for a place to celebrate my birthday and I am adding this to the list.

    1. Author

      Excellent. Definitely make a reservation if you decide on Dirty French.

    1. Author

      If you loved our photos, then you’ll love the food. Also, we use the CommentLuv plugin for comments.

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