The name of this newly opened West Village brasserie, Charlemagne, may ring a bell if you were paying any attention in History class in high school. Back in the Eighth Century, King Charlemagne reigned over most of Europe and united the region as the Holy Roman Empire. Just like Charlemagne did for Europe, Executive Chef Jodi Bernhard, along with owner and veteran restaurateur Vanessa Repice (Sel et Gras), have set out to unite the culinary traditions of Europe and America under one roof. Nestled in a gorgeous corner space between Greenwich and Christopher Streets in the West Village, Charlemagne offers diners a new take on French-American cuisine with both American and Spanish influences. The unique corner space allows for plenty of natural light and encapsulates the Greenwich Village Historic District that Charlemagne lies on the cusp of.
The interior of Charlemagne is Edwardian-inspired featuring two walls of windows wrapped in antique brick and reclaimed mahogany as well as the original turn-of-the-past-century honeycomb tile floor. Adding to the old world charm of Charlemagne is the center piece of the dining room, a restored tin chandelier set with in the recess of a partially restored tin ceiling. With quiet street views from practically every table, diners have the opportunity to enjoy traditional raw bar selections like clams, oysters, and lobster cocktails, as well as the Spanish-style raw bar where seafood selections are cooked “a la plancha” meaning seafood is grilled slightly and served simply with either salsa, verde herb sauce, or olive oil and sea salt.
Signature menu items include an updated version of a very traditional bistro dish, Leeks Vinaigrette. Traditionally a dish that incorporates French elements with a Spanish ingredient, Leeks Vinaigrette is made using young spring onions or calcots, similar to baby leeks or scallions, that are char-grilled and then steamed in newspaper until tender. Charlemagne’s version char-grills and steams the leeks the traditional way but marinates the leeks in Dijon vinaigrette beforehand. After the leeks are tender, the dish is served with a romesco sauce of red pepper, chili flakes, almonds, sherry vinegar, bread, olive oil, and Spanish paprika. Other starter plates include the vegan Tomato Tartare with Catalan aioli, Calamari Bravas with smoky tomato sauce and chili pepper aioli, and a Spring Onion Soup with goat cheese crostini.
Entrees include a steaming hot pot of the classic French dish Moules Frites with a choice of three sauces (white wine, garlic and herb, or pernod cream) accompanied by a side of French fries and delicious French bread for dipping. Other entree highlights include a half Roast Chicken with spinach-ricotta dumplings, Wild Mushroom Fettucini with taleggio and cracked pepper, and a Fava Bean Risotto with serrano ham and grana padano. A nice feature to the Charlemagne menu is the Plats du Jour entrees. For example, Monday is Roast Suckling Pig night while Friday is Fish & Chips and Saturday is Smoked Beef Ribs. The dessert options at Charlemagne change daily so make sure to ask your server what’s on the menu. Offered daily is the Charlemagne Cheese Plate featuring select cheeses from France, Spain, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
To take a look at all the delicious European-American brasserie menu options available at Charlemagne, check out their website.
Charlemagne is located at 679 Greenwich Street on the corner of Christopher and Greenwich Street.