Last night marked not only the 10th anniversary of Balthazar but the opening of FR.OG, a French fusion a few doors down from the birthday boy. Clearly, FR.OG's Didier Virot was sending a message to the ancien r gime. But must McNally fear that his French dominion is threatened? After an opening night visit, we'll have to go with mais non!
While Balthazar embodies a fetishized version of fin de si cle Paris, FR.OG aspires to a late 1990's chic. There's wavy plaster, lots of pink, and circular booths shrouded in what seems like a shower curtain. When we walked in, a Buena Vista Social Club-esque version of Lady Marmalade played, inexplicably followed by Chopin's Nocturne No. 2 in E Flat, Op. 9, No. 2. For some reason, I imagine it is a lot what the bathroom in the summer home of Renee Montaigne looks and sounds like: "Sexiness," dim lights, fusion. Down a spiral staircase, a large lounge area contains another bar and more tile. There was a bathroom attendant and a Schillerian unisexiness to the commodes.
What was served of the vaguely Asian food was uniformly excellent. Tomato soup came with a dollop of curry cream; pork and shrimp spring rolls offered crunch and spice. The exhaustive cocktail lists includes well-done standbys as the Ginger Martini with a rose twist. New York's the Robs have a better idea of the full menu but it is safe to say, fans of cuisine traditionnelle fran aise will be better served by sticking with the ten-year old Balthazar while more adventuresome diners might want to stop by the fresh meat. —Josh