Haute Eating: 10 Questions for Nicolas Cantrel of Bistrot Bagatelle

French bistro food gets some unexpected twists at Bistrot Bagatelle in the Meatpacking District, thanks to chef Nicolas Cantrel’s unique take on traditional French cuisine. Cantrel’s passion for French cooking began in his family’s kitchen in a small town in Normandy, France and, though he didn’t attend culinary school, he received expert training when working under Alain Ducasse at Aux Lyonnais and Le Louis XV (both in Paris), Daniel Boulud at Daniel and Geoffrey Zakarian at Country.

At Bagatelle, Cantrel has created his own playful style: traditional French with fresh flavor combinations, which you can taste in dishes like the homemade sea bass and artichoke ravioli, calamari with shishito peppers, foie gras terrine with Armagnac, roasted lamb chops with chanterelles and truffled roasted chicken.  You can enjoy Cantrel’s cuisine either inside the all-white elegant dining room or, now that warm weather is here, at Bagatelle’s new outdoor dining area.

Haute Living: What’s new at Bistrot Bagatelle

Nicolas Cantrel: We are opening soon for lunch and adding outdoor seating!

HL: What are some of your favorite dishes at Bagatelle?

NC: Truffled Roasted Natural Chicken; Calamari a la Plancha with fried Shishito Peppers; Gambas flambee with Pastis and Ratatouille; Elbow Pasta with Veal Jus, French Ham and Swiss Cheese; Bagatelle Salad with herbs, Parmesan and a classic French vinaigrette.

HL: Where do you like to dine when you’re not working?

NC: Peasant; Tartinery

HL:  What’s your ideal meal?

NC: Veal Banquette and Apple Tatin (shot of Calvados)

HL: Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?

NC: Le Bernardin

HL: What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood?

NC: The Financial District because it’s quiet at night.

HL: What do you like to do in the city on your days off?

NC: Visit the flea markets and farmers markets.

HL: Your favorite vacation destination?

NC: The French Riviera

HL: What’s your most memorable meal?

NC: Langoustine Caviar at the Plaza Athenée (in Paris)

HL: What are your five favorite ingredients?

NC: Fish; truffles; foie gras; asparagus; and poultry

Bistrot Bagatelle is located at 409 West 13th Street; 212.675.2400

Visit Tracey’s blog, The Busy Hedonist, for more of her food adventures.