The menu at Jeannier's is as inviting as ever

MATTERS OF TASTE

December 12, 1991|By Mary Maushard

I like Jeannier's.

It isn't the best restaurant in town. It certainly isn't the trendiest -- far from it. But it gets my vote for being among the warmest and most comfortable.

I like dining there. The rooms are pretty with mirrors and pictures on the walls, subdued colors, white tablecloths and bright, fresh flowers. They are like dining rooms in well-kept traditional homes.

The food -- French -- is usually beautifully presented and full of interesting flavors.

The feel of Jeannier's, in the Broadview Apartments on W. 39th Street, is special, but not stuffy. You can sit back without feeling like a slouch.

I used to think that Jeannier's was a quiet place to dine -- and that's a big plus with me -- but I'm sorry to say it was genuinely loud during our recent visit. Though half empty when we arrived, the rear dining room was full by 8 on a Saturday night, and neither the crowd nor the noise abated.

Because of the crowd, the servers were bustling about, making the room much less calm than I had remembered.

I also used to feel young -- very young -- at Jeannier's, which in the past drew an elderly crowd, perhaps from nearby apartments. But the clientele seems to have gotten younger or . . . Oh no, that couldn't have happened.

But, to more pleasant subjects, such as the food.

Jeannier's menu is not large, but the selection is provocative: Seafood Casserole Baked with Saffron Rice ($14.95), Boneless Breast of Duckling served with a Cherry Sauce ($17.95), Grilled Brochette of Shrimp and Scallops Marinated in Herbs ($14.95) and Sauteed Veal Medallions with a Sweet and Sour Sauce ($13.25).

Jeannier's offers a four-course dinner special -- with limited offerings -- for $19.95. I tried it, beginning with Shrimp Cocktail, which, the waiter explained, was smaller than the ala carte version. I was served four good-sized, tender shrimp with a tangy cocktail sauce that was very good.

The house salad, which came next, was an arrangement of greens coated with a rich vinaigrette. As an entree, I had Assiette Alsacienne, a combination platter of smoked pork loin, Canadian bacon and smoked sausage. The others offered with the special were Salmon with Lobster Sauce and Roast Sirloin.

I am neither a lover of pork nor smoking as a way to prepare food, but I loved the Assiette Alsacienne, which included red cabbage. The smoked pork loin was lean and tender with a captivating taste. The whole platter was a lovely blend of flavors I don't often taste. It's difficult to say whether the idea for this cold-weather special or the execution of the idea was better. Bravo!

With my dinner special, I was able to choose from the dessert cart. I picked a Chocolate Chambord Cheesecake. The cheesecake itself was good, but the gelatin within was spongy and unpleasant.

My husband began with Salad Louisette ($3.50), a large plate lush with greens that were studded with cherry tomatoes, hard-cooked egg, grapes and walnuts. It was beautiful and the blend of tastes and textures was outstanding, as was the walnut oil and vinegar dressing.

As a main course, he chose a scallop dish, Fricassee De St. Jacques Au Pistou ($14.50). He often orders Crab Salsify at Jeannier's, but because the restaurant was out of salsify, he decided to try the fricassee of scallops, mushrooms and baby carrots in a cream sauce. Frankly, he was disappointed, finding it an ordinary, rather than an outstanding, scallop dish with the carrots adding neither taste nor texture.

We shared a side dish of lightly sauteed wild mushrooms ($4.95). They were wonderful.

For dessert, my husband selected Chocolate Mousse Cake ($3.25). The spongecake was dry and the mousse didn't have much flavor. Like my dessert, this cake didn't live up to the rest of our dinner.

Our bill, with two cocktails, one coffee and a $17 bottle of wine, was $74.97. The prices seem to have stayed about the same over the years we've been going to Jeannier's. (The $19.95 special is clearly a good deal; there's also an early bird special for $13.95 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. weeknights.)

The atmosphere, too, is always warmly familiar, and the service friendly and professional. I guess that's why I like it.

***

Jeannier's

Broadview Apartments

105 W. 39th St.

889-3303

Hours: Lunch served Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner served Monday through Thursday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Light fare in the cafe served Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Reservations: Recommended on Saturdays.

Credit cards: Major credit cards accepted.

Handicapped access: Limited access.

Smoking: Separate areas on weekends only.

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