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Dirty French | Modern Dining in NYC

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 in New York City

Important Update
Many restaurants have revised their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Some may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check this restaurant’s website for updated information before your visit.

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. It seems that, in many cases, food changes faster than fashion, and today’s bone broth could become yesterday’s seared ahi tuna. Nowhere is this more the case than in New York City where Michelin-starred restaurants compete with pizzerias.

Our Lunch at Dirty French

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

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.

Starters

Millefeuille at Dirty French in New York City
The millefeuille is masterfully made with trumpet mushrooms instead of pastry.

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 was magical.

Tuna Tartare at Dirty French in New York City
The deceptively simple tuna tartare is boldly flavored and served with a crêpe Indochine.

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.

Sandwich

French Dip Sandwich at Dirty French in New York City
Elevated Classic – French Dip Sandwich with Dry-Aged Beef, Shallots and Jus

We don’t see French Dips on a lot of 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.

Main Course

Brook Trout Meuniere at Dirty French in New York City
The meunièee is audaciously prepared with brook trout, sesame seeds, dried apricots and lots of butter.

However, we have no second thoughts about ordering the meunière entrée. Made with a brook trout instead of the more traditional sole, this dish was generously prepared with sesame seeds, apricots and lemon. And butter. Lots of butter.

We’re not sure if the deep flavors emanated from the meatiness of the trout or from the audacious preparation, but, either way, it was an outstanding dish that we will long remember.

Flatbread

Flatbread with Fromage Blanc at Dirty French in New York City
Served on a pedestal, the flatbread is sprinkled with sea salt flakes and comes with herbaceous fromage blanc and olive oil.

We would be remiss not to mention the flatbread. The warm, house-made bread was placed on a pedestal and was served with fromage blanc spiked with olive oil and rosemary.

Dessert

Citrus Tarte at Dirty French in New York City
Citrus Tart made with Preserved Lemon, Almonds and Toasted Meringue

We chose the citrus tart to end our decadent lunch. The slim tart made with meyer lemons was topped with eight dollops of toasted meringue and reminded us of pastries we’ve eaten in Paris.

Elements like crunchy almonds and tart lemon zest strips rounded out the dessert, not to mention the flavor-zinging salt flakes.

Final Thoughts

Bite of Millefeuille at Dirty French in New York City
Perfect Bite of Millefeuille

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.

Pro 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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About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

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Lyla Hassan

Monday 17th of December 2018

Wow, amazing food...Thanks for sharing this great list with us ...Keep up the good work

Virtualedge

Monday 5th of June 2017

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

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Tuesday 13th of June 2017

Seriously, everything was delicious during this meal. We want to go back and try more food, but we'll be so tempted to order all of the same dishes.

Vicki Winters

Friday 5th of June 2015

YOUR PHOTOS!!!!! Drool worthy. And what is that plug in you have that makes my latest blog post link???

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saturday 6th of June 2015

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

NYC Single Mom

Saturday 21st of March 2015

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

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saturday 21st of March 2015

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

Mary Lane

Wednesday 18th of March 2015

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!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Friday 20th of March 2015

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