Chez Moi and Le Boudoir
135 Atlantic Ave.,
Brooklyn Heights, New York 11201
I-love-you has no usages. Like a child’s word, it enters into no social constraint; it can be a sublime, solemn, trivial word, it can be an erotic, pornographic word. It is a socially irresponsible word.
I-love-you is without nuance. It suppresses explanations, adjustments, degrees, scruples. In a way-exorbitant paradox of language-to say I-love-you is to proceed as if there were no theater of speech, and this word is always true (has no other referent than its utterance: it is a per- formative).
I take the subway to the Bergen stop and walk to Atlantic Avenue. It is dark and cold and remnants of yesterday’s snow were in the tree wells and in the shadows. After working hard all day on my book-Death, Time and Memory-I want to walk to dinner in the dark and the cold.
It is dark, intimate, comfortable, small tables in corners. A place for quiet conversations, affairs, and intrigue. “ I love you” is whispered in her ear leaning over close. The dark eyes. Jazz, quiet just above the threshold of perception. Brown wood tables and candles soft lights flickering softly. Memory and mystery. It reminds me of cafes in Amsterdam.
I saw then what I should have seen long before: namely that our friendship had ripened to a point when we had already become in a way part-owners of each other.
Lawrence Durrell, Justine
Seating and ordering were quietly and efficiently accomplished. Menu of bistro standards. Five kinds of mussels and a list of creative cocktails are notable. Quality bread, nutty, chewy. I order the special fish soup and the cod of the day.
The wines by the glass are limited but the prices are reasonable and the quality fairly high. I enjoyed a Merlot.
There is a friendly wood bar when you enter and it was full of locals: short hair, beards and tattoos, Japanese denim upfolded above the shoes, praying into iPhones, drinking wine. Thonet bar stools. Globe lights soft yellow glow globes of light. Amber and wood and candles.
A table of three girls to my left demolish large pots of mussels with enthusiasm and drink champagne tossing their hair back orchestrated in unison. The talk and do not text.
The fish soup is prepared with a tomato broth, suggestion of saffron, crab and crouton. Light, subtle flavors, clarity, perfect on a cold winter night in Brooklyn. The crouton was a bit soft and soggy but it did not defeat the dish.
The cod was presented with a stew of dumplings and a white wine sauce with Mediterranean herbs. It gave character to a typically dull white fish, the dumplings were a creative element rarely seen. A compelling dish.
Dessert was chocolate mousse presented with strawberry slices and fresh cream. Delightful finish.
Chez Moi opened in 2012. It is easy to miss the quiet and simple front of the bistro, a white frame door with traditional white lace in the window. The goal of the owners-Tarek Debira and Patricia Ageheim- is “to provide the neighborhood with a homie French bistro with classics and seasonal dishes, great cocktails and organic wines.”
They succeeded. It was a delightful dinner.
Le Boudoir is a Prohibition-inspired speakeasy that opened beneath the Chez Moi bistro. Apparently the entrance is on the left side of the bistro and you walk down a flight of stairs to the speakeasy. The New York Times says:
The owners, the husband-and-wife pair Tarek Debira and Patricia Ageheim, modeled the subterranean chambers after Marie Antoinette’s boudoir in Versailles. It drips with gold leaf frames, red velvet couches and other louche touches.he glass tabletops are held by nude nymph statuettes. Odalisque paintings hang on the wall. The space itself is reached through a bookshelf stocked with scarlet-spined books.
I missed this but will give it a try the next time I visit Chez Mois!
Staff: 7 (French speaking, efficient, reserved)
Archetype: 6 (There are few signifiers of the Archetype, the food is traditional, the space is Brooklyn: brick walls, old wood, industrial ceiling)
Food: 7 (Traditional bistro food)
Energy: 8 (Noise low, lights low, energy low. If you want a bistro for quiet conversation, romance, privacy, this is your spot. Say “I love you.”)
Reviews of Chez Moi