A conversation with Florianne Bako of Chateau 49
How did you meet your partner, Rrok Tanaza?
We met in the neighborhood years ago. I was working in a French restaurant. He used to bar-tend in midtown.
How did you decide to create Chateau 49?
There was a French restaurant at this location that I managed. I was here so much people thought I owned it. I left to manage another restaurant nearby. Then the French restaurant closed. We knew the landlord. Rrok and I decided to go for it and opened our own restaurant right here.
This space has a distinctive feeling. How would you describe it?
We wanted to make it cozy, welcoming and comfortable. It’s our own little castle — that’s why we called it Chateau 49. We have a lot of regulars from the neighborhood who come in, have a drink or a nice little French dish. You can eat at the bar or at the table – it is the same menu.
Who is the chef?
The chef has worked in the city for ten years in a lot of French bistros. He does consulting work to restaurants in the Hamptons.
How did you create the menu?
We wanted to do French classic dishes. Snails, foie gras, beef tartare, charcuterie and cheese – have what everyone wants when they go to a French restaurant. I’m from Alsace, so we have smoked pork sausage with sauerkraut and Dijon mustard. And an Alsatian twist cocktail. It is like a French 75 but with Cremant d’Alsace. We want people to be able to share dishes, so we made some tartines. People love that. Tartine with steak, with salmon, vegetarian tartine. For the main courses: steak au poivre, moules frites. We wanted simple things.
Tell me about the wine list. I notice the prices are very nice.
We want people to come to us and not feel we are overpriced. We have a good selection. Later on, we will expand the list. We have nice bottles: St. Julien, Pomerol, Chablis. Seventy percent of our wines are from France from the best vintages. Thirty percent are from all around the world. We have Malbec from Mendoza, Chianti, Pinot Grigio from Friuli. We want to please everyone. For this neighborhood, that’s pretty fair, right? We have a happy hour seven days a week. From 3 to 7PM. $7 for a glass of wine. $5 for beer. Monday through Sunday. We want to encourage people to come out on the weekends.
Since you just opened, what are your plans?
Lunch is coming soon. We got very busy from the first day that we opened. We got a lot of love and support from the neighborhood. So far the feedback has been great. We were supposed to have a limited menu for a while. But from the third day that we were open, I had to pull out my full dinner menu. We will serve brunch too. There is a demand for it.
This glass wall, does it open?
All the way. It brings in a lot of light. It was raining the other day, and the rain wasn’t even coming in. It was perfect.
Are there going to be some tables on the sidewalk?
Will the menu change in the winter?
In the fall we are going to keep the classics but change our dishes that go with the season. For lunch in the fall we are going to have a prix fixe and a la carte. Brunch will be the same all year like many other places. Also, every day we will have a daily special.
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