It was Friday night, and no plans were afoot. Setting out from AV's apartment on the UES, we decided to try to take on the Chicken Guy at 53rd and 6th, but once we got there the line was prohibitive. So, dejected, we walked west, vaguely toward my apartment, with no true destination in mind. But lo! We soon happened upon Maison, a French bistro-type affair with widespread seating on 7th Ave, and I remarked that I'd often seen this place but had never been nor heard much about it. And so we were off; sidling into a sidewalk table, we scanned the menu for something delicious for AV to eat and something delicious for me to drink.
To start: the drinks. There was a mojito on the menu, and there were drinks with mango in them, so I asked if they could make me a mango mojito. Unequivocally, without even a moment's hesitation, our server said no. Oooohkay. So I went with a mango bellini, which was quite delicious. AV settled on a beer from Brooklyn, which was beery. I presume.
As for the food, AV had chosen the calamari. He does love a good order of calamari, but unfortunately, he did not love this order. It came with a dish of aioli, and after a couple of dips, AV asked our server if he could have a dish of marinara instead. At the same time I asked for a bread basket. For a while, neither was forthcoming, and AV and I sat as the basket of calimari cooled and turned from potentially-yummy-fried-food to gummy-and-cold-fried-blech. A few minutes later, the marinara arrived. A few minutes-- and a few more requests-- after that, so did the bread. The verdict on the calimari: The batter was weird and the marinara was too sweet; all in all, something of a disaster, and only half the order was consumed.
But the verdict on the bread was much more positive. Huge hunks of delightfully chewy French bread went down like water with the somewhat odd red-pepper-infused butter. We polished off the bread basket and our drinks and headed out into the night.
When the check came, we learned that Maison was part of the illustrious line of restaurants that includes Pigalle and Cafe d'Alsace, all of which have subpar food and incredibly "French" (read: indifferent) service. It all made sense. I can't really rate Maison, since I didn't technically eat anything except (the admittedly delicious) bread, but unless you're starving in the wastelands of Midtown, don't settle for Maison; there are much better options nearby.
1700 Broadway, at 54th Street