Dining Al Fresco in Chelsea

Montmartre Kevin Brunnock

With summer quickly approaching, there are a few things that we, as New Yorkers, have grown to expect. Although temperatures reaching upwards of 80 degrees will certainly make some flee the city limits, braving the months of June through August in New York have their rewards. With longer days come a smattering of cultural events like outdoor concerts, extended openings at museums and galleries, free film screenings and all sorts of festivals.


Additionally, some of my favorite restaurants start offering outdoor seating to accommodate more patrons and and their thirst for vitamin D. By the beginning of May, brightly colored awnings pop up everywhere to shade patrons hoping to dine outside. And signs mentioning “outdoor seating in back” seem to appear everywhere overnight.


While weekend getaways to the Hamptons, relaxing in the greenery offered by the Hudson Valley or booking a last minute flight to Europe are all valid ways of spending your summer days, I enjoy the multitude of simple pleasures offered right here in New York.


Recently I ventured to Montmartre, the French Bistro in Chelsea owned by the Happy Cooking Hospitality group founded by Gabriel Stulman. Located on the bustling corner of 18th and 8th in Chelsea, Montmartre offers an inviting atmosphere to its patrons.


The space itself has significant seating in an open space in back which primarily operates during the spring, summer and a bit of the fall. Montmartre specializes in food common to a french bistro but also infuses this common culinary fare with some Hong Kong flair. Montmartre has staples at the restaurant, but they truly exemplify how subtle tweaks to classic recipes can make for a very interesting culinary experience.


Montmartre is known for their rotating selection of wines and rosés as well as their food menus. The appetizers looked tempting. A neighboring table ordered escargots, doused in a red wine sauce with poached egg and bacon as well as a plate of pate de campagne mixed with pickled vegetables and a few slices of grilled bread lining the dish. Both dishes looked interesting, but it was the entree of the steak frites that I eventually landed on. When the steak eventually came, the sizable hanger steak was perfectly done, coated in a flavorful onion soubise. The steak rested on a bed of arugula with a pat of maitre d’butter to add some complexity to the meal.


Although Montmartre is known for their rotating list of rosés, I instead opted for a pinot noir from St. Aubin.The waitstaff was attentive, and the space itself provided an enjoyable respite from the frenzied pace outside. The garden in back was beautifully lit and provided a great breath of fresh air in between dinner and dessert. When I returned from the garden, the desserts had been carefully placed at my table. The chocolate mousse was a gateau with whipped cream and raspberries. The cake was a rich and a delicious way to end a very satisfying meal.


After finishing such an opulent and rich meal, I always encourage a stroll, and did just that at The Highline, with an entrance just two blocks away on 18th and 10th.