There's a new destination for fromage, fleurs and frites on the west side at Le Distract, a sleek new culinary playground stocked with restaurants, bars and lots of counters dishing out all sorts of French treats. The large new market, which has been dubbed the "Eataly of French food," has been slowly debuting different parts of the large enterprise over the past few weeks. Though not yet fully operational, one can still meander the "streets," dine at the tiled restaurant or pick up a baguette at the Boulangerie while the rest of the offerings come together.
The space has more of a natural flow than some of the other recent food markets, including the Hudson Eats food court located just upstairs. Designers at ICRAVE wanted to bring the streets inside, creating different "neighborhood" establishments like the bakery, meat shop and flower shop as they'd be laid out in real life. Patrons can enter through the Winter Garden in Brookfield Place into the Cafe District, where they'll find coffee, pastries and the chocolate shop, or through the "bodega"-like Garden District, which sells grab-and-go food items, produce and grocery items.
Between those two are the Market and Restaurant Districts, the latter being the most traditional-type of dining experience where you'll find Le Beaubourg, serving classic French dishes like Steak Frites ($35) and an $18 "L'Hamburger." There's also Le Bar, with an ornate copper ceiling inspired by old absinthe bottles, according to ICRAVE designer Mariela Alvarez, plus the soon to be opened chef's tasting room L'Appart, designed to look like someone's (very expensive) living room.
Of all the districts, the Market is the one with the most curb appeal. The satellite food stations are anchored by a large, circular bar, where you can not only order drinks but also select items from the different outlets within the space. That could be a cheese plate from the Fromagerie, Canadian poutine from the Boucherie or a roasted chicken from the Rotisserie. Each of those stations in turn is also offering their own seating with different menus to match their themes, plus carry out options of cheese, meats, flowers and tinned fish for off-site consumption.
Since it's mostly informal—save for the restaurant proper and the chef's table—it'll be good for a bite following a stroll along the Hudson or shopping at the super high-end shops that are also opening within the new Brookfield development. Even better, there's an enormous outdoor terrace with tables and seating opening in the coming months, with great views of New Jersey (really!) and sunsets over the river.
225 Liberty Street, (212) 981-8588; website