Stephen Starr Restaurant in NYC Tops New York Times List

Food critic Pete Wells called Le Coucou the top New York City restaurant of 2016.

Stephen Starr landed a major restaurant plaudit in the New York Times today.

Well-respected critic Pete Wells, famed for his scathing reviews of Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar and Señor Frog’s, put Starr’s Le Coucou at number one on his Top New York Restaurants of 2016 list.

“The genius of this project from the chef Daniel Rose and the restaurateur Stephen Starr is that it gives us almost everything we loved about New York’s old-line French restaurants without the things we didn’t,” Wells writes. “The dining room isn’t stuffy, the service isn’t snooty, and people don’t get seated in Siberia if their pronunciation of boeuf bourguignon doesn’t have the right backhand spin.”

Rose is a Chicago-born chef who also runs a restaurant, Spring, in Paris. Wells’s original November 2016 review said Le Coucou was “would be my first pick for visitors from out of town who wanted a meal they couldn’t have back home … not that it’s a tourist restaurant.”

Wells’s list isn’t a formal top 10, it seems; he writes that the restaurants “are presented here roughly in the order of the intensity of my desire to go back again, which diverges here and there from the number of stars that flew above their reviews.” But still: It’s a story headlined “Top New York Restaurants of 2016,” and Starr’s restaurant is smack dab at the top. He gets to say he has the best restaurant in New York City.

Le Coucou is in Lower Manhattan on Lafayette Street. It serves French food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (with brunch on the weekends). Wells says reservations are tough, but a quick scan on OpenTable shows availability at odd hours a few weeks out.

“What Le Coucou achieves in its look and feel is impressive,” Wells wrote in his review. “It has an elegance that is well outside the everyday rumble of New York life but that doesn’t have any of the heaviness in décor or the off-putting reserve that nobody really misses from the old days.”