New York is in no short supply of French bistros. But there are so many—in Lower Manhattan alone—that it can be easy to overlook those in your backyard.
Take A.O.C., which has a charming backyard of its own. Along with plenty of seating and bar space inside, A.O.C.'s garden (jardin!) also has quite a few tables for small and even large parties.
For me, this happens to be one of those bistros that I always seem to walk past, I tell myself I'll come back, and yet I never do. And yet it took Bastille Day-meets-World Cup Final weekend to finally do the trick. (Not to mention several chalkboards out front reading "Happy Bastille Day!" and "Allez Les Bleus!" to cheer on the home team.
Every French classic you'd expect is on the menu, with a number of specials (inside at the bar only) on oysters and a few other small plates. There are also Happy Hour specials on weekdays ($5 glasses of wine) and even free corkage on the first bottle on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
Given that this was the first stop in the evening on Bastille Day, I planned ordered my favorite combination (see: the name of this website). However, they don't do Champagne by the glass, only by the bottle. (The wine list is extensive, by the way. They also do plenty of cocktails, with an emphasis on French liqueurs, like Lillet and Cointreau.)
So I got the next best thing: Crémant. Franchement, I have no problem with Crémant and, on average, find it to serve exactly my needs for a much better price. (There are plenty of overrated Champagnes out there.) The Crémant here, however, left a little to be desired—especially at $11 per glass.
The fries were also just fine. That's it. Just fine. They were a nice blend of soft and crispy. (Honestly I'm one of those people who likes the softer, chewier fries. I don't want my fries' texture to resemble actual potato chips.) However, by the closer we got to the middle or bottom of the basket, they really were just short, fat potato chips.
Strangely, that said, I'd totally go back. Like I mentioned, the menu is *extensive* and those Happy Hour/corkage deals are rare, so I want to take advantage of them. The garden, too, is calm but not cramped, so perfect for summer evenings.