Have you ever noticed that some French-Japanese fusion restaurants are in actuality Japanese restaurants with here and there the nod to western culture? TriBeCa newcomer l’abeille falls at the opposite end of Franco-Japanese spectrum. The menu is in two languages, neither of them Japanese, and its executive chef and co-owner, Mitsunobu Nagae, cut his teeth in the kitchens of Le Doyen in Paris and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York.
The influences of his culinary background are reflected in the six-course prix-fixe menu, which includes a dish of grilled fluke in a bouillabaisse sauce accented with lemon puree and fennel. Some of the offerings betray a sense of whimsy. The current first course on the seasonally changing menu is a foie gras crème brûlée with onion ice cream. A gesture toward Japanese cooking can be found in a miso-glazed roasted squab set down in a Bourbon sauce.
The cost of the tasting menu is $180. If you opt for the $95 wine pairing, virtually everything you drink will be of French provenance. The beverage menu also includes a half dozen signature cocktails and mocktails, one of them dubbed Sleepin’ Bee. Abeille translates to “bee” in English.
l’abeille, 412 Greenwich Street (at Laight St.), 212-542-3898.