Chat Noir is the brainchild of Emma Tso, who left a career as an X-ray technician to become a pastry chef. Tso first opened Chat Noir as a tearoom serving breakfast and lunch, but last month added dinner and a well-edited wine list.
Good taste rules here, both in the food and the polished decor. Beautiful china; no ruffles, no lace.
BREAKFAST AND LUNCH
Tso makes virtually everything, including the brioche for incomparable orange French toast - lightly crisp, custardy and fragrant. I crave it constantly.
Brava for the tender-crusted spinach and bacon quiche and savory spinach and mushroom crepes. Also, Tso's smoked salmon and cucumber sandwich on house-made brioche is simple perfection, plated with a judiciously dressed salad.
The tiered tea service is a treat. Among the superior sandwiches are ham and Brie with apricot spread and cucumber with crème fraîche. Warm maple-walnut and chocolate-chip scones are served with clotted cream and berry jam. There are miniature cream-filled pastries, one shaped like a swan. And, to drink with all, a pot of freshly brewed aromatic tea. Peach is a personal favorite.
Everything in Tso's breadbasket is irresistible but better suited to brunch than dinner. I have a chive scone plus squares of sweet warm cornbread and chocolate zucchini loaf wrapped to go; it makes a fine dessert the next day.
A bowl of carrot-apple soup is vibrant, generous. Inordinately light ricotta gnocchi with truffle-sage butter are delicious, if monochromatic. I'm let down that my black tea-marinated skirt steak is pre-sliced and well-done rather than rare. But the accompanying blue cheese polenta is comfort itself. Boneless coq au vin with vegetables is served over gummy spaetzle.
Redemption comes at dessert: an ethereal chocolate marquise and lovely apple tarte Tatin with vanilla ice cream and rum-caramel sauce.
Dinner is still a work in progress, but breakfast and lunch are ideal in both price and execution.
Chat Noir is located at 230 Merrick Rd., Rockville Centre, 516-208-8521, chatnoirtea.com