October 4, 2004 | Ask Gael
What’s left of Ancien Gallic Grandeur?

         With Lutèce, La Côte Basque, and La Caravelle all six forks under, it’s thrilling that La Grenouille thrives. Owning the building helps the bottom line, of course, and owner Charles Masson’s youthful makeover—opening up the façade with glass, an all-day bar menu, switching captains from tuxedos into dark suits—leaves the once hoity-toity Frog Pond less forbidding. So it’s not just lacquered socialites and powermongers hogging the scene but boomers too, and even younger people. Floral exuberance still explodes in every corner, and, in the ultimate surrender to reality, the menu—mixing classic and new—is finally translated into English. Alas, the iconic frog’s legs taste exhausted. Burgundy-braised oxtail is much better. And the splendid chicken in champagne sauce recalls what these Gallic temples did best. But I’d need my brain Botoxed not to mind dropping $620 to feed four (including $28 extra for a green salad to replace the too-salty foie gras my guest sent back). I almost feel sorry for our waiter—an old-timer I remember from the days of haute snoot—forced now to be civil even to us.

3 East 52nd Street 212 752 1495