Monday, April 30, 2007


103 Ave. B, Lower East Side
b/w 6th and 7th Streets

When dining on the Lower east Side, one is faced with some tough decisions. Should we try that new place a couple of blocks up to road from 7B where we always end of having a pint? Or should we check out the steak at Buenos Aries? I’ve got it! What about going back to Casimir? In the end, we always arrive at a similar conclusion. Sure, I know it’s lame to ignore new culinary offerings in the area, but I just can’t resist the place. Opening a few years ago to mixed reviews, Casimir has come of age and has a special place in the hearts of all those hipsters and ex-pat French living on Avenue B. For one of our own Thursday Clubbers, the place is the centre of his universe. Jason practically lives there.

There is something to be said for having a ‘local’ and ‘regular’ restaurant spot, where the staff greet you by name and promise a fine table if you’ll just sit at the bar for a few minutes and drink this free beer and wine. This is a typical welcome for Jason, and sticking to him like glue means that I can also benefit from his relationship. We were 5-strong on this particular evening, and we did have to wait a while before being seated. It was 9.15 on Saturday night the place was packed out as you might expect.

Our waitresses exhibited all that is good and great about excellent service. They’re attractive, they know what specials chef is promoting, what they have run out of and can recommend substitutes from a fine bistro menu. The food is classic French bistro fayre, and in all the years Jason has been visiting Casimir, I don’t think he’s had a bad meal from them. Nor have I for that matter. And the general concensus after we left the place full-bellied and all fired up on French red plonk 2 hours later was very positive indeed. “Wow, Man, that food was excellent. How do they make it taste SO good?” Everybody loved the dimly lit dining room and the din and clatter of lots of happy people chowing down together, with a muted soundtrack of something French and jazzy…A touch clichéd perhaps, but no matter. The food sings louder than the speakers.

I had the salmon tartare, (I did want oysters but they’d had a run on them and they were out) a fabulous thick pink dollop of finely chopped salmon, capers and parsley with extra capers and red onion on the side.Casimir serves this with gaufrette potatoes, which I scoffed before I even thought about the salmon. They were homemade and I could have eaten a basket of the damn things. The salmon was, as usual, beautifully fresh and creamy and those salty little capers seasoned it well. My companions ate salads and soups, I must have been so interested in my dish that I paid their first courses little attention.

For my main, I always choose a signature dish of Casimir’s - A rich and spicy boudin noir, with apples and mash. What a classic! I have forever been a fan of these blood sausages, and each time I eat them I am reminded of my first taste when I was a kid – It blows me away - Meaty, spicy, succulent, and full of artery-clogging goodness.
Carina (my buddy from Denmark) hadn’t had a decent steak for ages and she got stuck well in to her filet mignon with mustard sauce and green salad. She must have been in awe as she is usually very talkative but we didn’t hear a peep from her while there was food on her plate.

Aleesha had chef special almond-crusted seared tuna with potato salad and a sort of Asian-soy sauce. We all looked very stuffed and happy by the time the desserts arrived. Casimir’s pastry chef knows their stuff. Apple tarte tatin, a stunning crème brulee and a rich chocolate tart arrived at our table with 5 spoons, courtesy of Eric (the owner) and the staff. With aching bellies and salivating mouths there was no way we were seeing this stuff go unattended and even those poor souls on diets grabbed some silverware and got stuck in. A fine finish.

Sure, we had some preferential treatment that night because of who we were with, but I do believe Casimir to be a solid neighbourhood eatery with really decent food to offer, whoever you may be. It is affordable too, and they thoroughly deserve such loyal clientele.

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