This week marked the opening of Brasserie Cognac de Monsieur Ballon (henceforth known simply as Cognac), the new Serafina restaurant that stands to join the likes of Brasserie Ruhlmann as a reliable “Balthazar in midtown” option. The exec chef, Florian Hugo (a descendant of novelist Victor), worked under Alain Ducasse for eight years, which lends some drama to the fact that Ducasse is opening his own Balthazar-esque bistro, Benoit, down the street in about a week. So what does Cognac have going for it?
In addition to sommelier Alessandra Rotondi’s mostly French wine selections, there will be 102 cognacs by the glass, some of them available in pairings and also used in dishes such as the table-side filet mignon and lobster flambés. More shades of Balthazar: tin ceilings, romantic murals, a zinc bar from France, and an adjacent bakery churning out croissants, baguettes, and rotisserie chicken. And just a dash of Artisanal: 40 varieties of cheeses are on display at the counter you see here. Cognac is going to need 'em all: They have about a week to instill customer loyalty before Ducasse touches down.
Brasserie Cognac de Monsieur Ballon, 1740 Broadway, nr. 55th St.; 212-757-3600