Chez Lucienne Harlem's ambitious French hideaway

Chef Obaton On a rainy early evening last week, we stumbled quite literally upon Chez Lucienne (308 Lenox Avenue at 125th St., NY, NY 212.289.5555).  The cozy French bistro helmed by Daniel alums Jerome Bougherdani and chef Matthew Tivy in Harlem is classic bistro from its simply elegant menu to its subtle decor featuring powder blue banquettes.

The  menu is straight-forward French with Lyonnais chef Thomas Obaton presenting typical bistro fare from Salade Nicoise and Terrine de Fois Gras to Coq au Vin.  Obaton formerly cooked with Guy Savoy in Paris and Jean-Claude Teulade at the shuttered Long Island Louis XVI. 

We had the Soup du Jour which was a velvety asparagus ($7), the Assiette de Charcuterie ($14), centered by a lightly dressed salade mesclun concealing a generous portion of housemade Pate de Campagne, and the Coq au Vin ($17).  We split the ample Profiteroles ($9) for dessert.

Arriving early for dinner, the bistro bubbled with activity, the tiny bar and restaurant filling up rapidly while we dined.  The service was graciously attentive and accommodating.  Our table was near the open door (an unfortunate choice we'd made ourselves), but without our asking, the maitre d' closed the entrance to prevent the cold and wet gusts of wind from chilling us to the bone.

My only quibble with the decor were the awful picnic table-type white plastic cloths.  Certainly it's more economical than table linens and possibly saves time in set up, but they are dreadful.  Butcher's paper would be as efficient and certainly a better aesthetic fit.

For more information:

Reservations may be made online through www.chezlucienne.com and OpenTable.com

Brunch Sat urday & Sunday     11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Lunch Monday - Friday          11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Dinner Sunday - Thursday       5 p.m.-11 p.m.
Friday - Saturday
        5 p.m.-midnight

Average dinner entree $18. Dinner for two with drinks $6o, sans gratuity.