Gaby Review - A traditional French Brasserie in the Theater District, Fresh ideas and new sources

Chef Sylvain Harribey performs a balancing act on his menu at Gaby, in the French hotel Sofitel in New York’s theater district. A master chef of France, he’s catering to his visiting countrymen who seek the comfort of a cuisine they know, and also New Yorkers and other tourists searching for fine dining.   At the same time he’s experimenting with new ways to refine classic French recipes. So his daily specials are listed in French with American explanations and some, but not all, menus show the day of the week in French.   Periodically he creates an unusual combination of ingredients, which becomes popular and earns a position on the menu.

 

Sylvain Harribey

 

Born in France with formal training in Bordeaux, he perfected his seafood techniques in Arcachon, a southern French resort famed for its oysters. He worked at the Ritz in Paris and in several American cities where he oversaw restaurants for Sofitel. In Philadelpha he encountered a menu dictated by a central office and soon realized that he needed to introduce fresh ideas and cultivate new sources.  He found the vegetables and meats he desired in the nearby Amish countryside, pronouncing many as equal to the finest of his homeland.  In Manhattan, he still uses those vendors while cultivating a relationship with providers from upstate New York.

 

  

HUBER restaurant

Harribey, outfitted in specially designed black chef gear, often leaves the kitchen to visit guests in the bistro’s comfortable dining room. The restaurant is named for a flamboyant 18-year-old French model and actress who starred on Broadway during the roaring twenties. With its art deco details, marble flooring, brass trim, beveled mirrors and a centerpiece black and gold banquette, Gaby is an upscale version of a traditional Parisian brasserie.  Posters from silent movies hang on the walls and a huge portrait of that stunning woman looks down at a green-topped mahogany bar. There is ample space between tables and no intrusive music to fracture the ambiance.

  

Entering the restaurant

 

We started with a selection of appetizers. A square of seared tuna crusted with cracked pepper, topped by a quail egg and herbs over quinoa, was our favorite on a mixed plate that also included fois gras and crab and corn chowder.  Among main courses, we enjoyed three perfect lamb chops plated royally on a bed of tiny turnips, carrots and asparagus and smashed potatoes, skin on. We also satisfied our crustacean longings with a perfectly broiled lobster, served with avocado slices and sauce aurore.

  

Gaby Bar

 

Harribey’s portions are just right. He is not a minimalist nor does he send out a fussy, overdressed plate.  With 21 years of experience, he has learned how best to serve an ever-changing clientele, sometimes sticking with the standards, and occasionally having fun with surprises on the menu.  During our visit he unveiled   his latest creation, which is still in search of a proper name. He called it a Melt-down Dome, a large ball of vanilla ice cream, and raspberry mousse over crunchy granola. A server pours hot chocolate over it. The chocolate hardens, into a solid black coat, making for a dramatic and thoroughly pleasing novel dessert. It will probably earn a place on the menu.

 

Gaby’s Franburger

 

Gaby is located in the Sofitel New York hotel at 45West 44th street in the theater district. For reservations, call 212 782 3040 or check the Gabywebsite

 

 

Breakfast: Mon - Sun, 6:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Brunch: Sun - Sat, 12:00PM - 2:00PM
Lunch: Mon - Fri, 12:00PM - 2:00PM
Dinner: Mon - Sun, 5:00PM - 10:30PM

 

Photos: courtesy of Gaby's Bar

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