MADAME – French Restaurant in Jersey City

MADAME – French Restaurant Opening in Jersey City

By KENDAL LAMBERT     TAPintoJersey City

Madamejc Bistro Cocktail Parlor Jersey City

JERSEY CITY, NJ – Imagine an upscale, French Bordeaux speakeasy-style bar giving all the glamour of a 1970’s Paris hotel. Romantic lighting with dark upholstery creating cozy vibes, brightened up by the gold and brown cocktail parlor and lively music pulsing through its walls.

This type of scene is expected in NYC, but many would be both surprised and delighted to find it right in the heart of downtown Jersey City.

“We want to bring an elevated French dining experience to a city that understands good food and drink,” says Gabriel Rieben, Co-Owner and Director of Operations for Madame.

Madame is the trendy version of a classic French bistro, offering shareable plates and handcrafted cocktails. The restaurant-cocktail bar will be opening soon.

Madame will replace Madame Claude, the former name of the same location at 390 4th Street. “When the previous owners were selling, we jumped at the opportunity,” says Rieben. “We wanted to continue the French theme and keep the tradition, but give it a younger, fresher appeal.”

Rieben’s French background made this decision a no brainer—even though he has lived in NJ for years, he grew up outside Paris. His knowledge of French gastronomy paired with a vast exploration of New York cocktail bars put him in the ideal position to take on this new adventure.

“There aren’t too many French restaurants in New Jersey, so we want to make a big splash on the scene.” In Jersey City alone, there is only one other Authentic French restaurant.

Rieben is also the General Manager and DIO of Cellar 335, the popular Polynesian spot on Newark Ave and one of the only true tropical tiki bars in NJ. Cellar has established itself as one of the best restaurants in Jersey City (and quite possibly the state), thanks to its innovative menu that frequently introduces new drinks, top tier service, and unique atmosphere.

“It’s all about the details for myself and my staff,” says Rieben. “That’s the difference between a good restaurant and a great restaurant—it’s in the details.”

Since Cellar and Madame are in the same area (they’re practically next-door neighbors), expect a bit of customer crossover. Cellar regulars might be inclined to check out Madame, while French-food enthusiasts may want to give tiki cocktails a try at Cellar.

As the guests are likely to double-dip, so does the staff! Rieben will be working alongside fellow Cellar owners, Robert Palmer and Jamie Knott as co-owners of Madame, and Chris Abbamondi, the Executive Chef for Cellar and now Madame.

“I’ve been in the States almost nine years now and this will be the first time I’m doing authentic French food here—it truly brings me back to my roots,” says Rieben. When he and Abbamondi started designing the menu, Rieben wanted to include meals that reminded him of his childhood. That’s why guests can expect to see foods like Cassoulet au Gratin. “Cassoulet is a famous dish that my mom often used to make for me as a kid,” he says. The slow-cooked stew, which contains meat (typically pork sausages, goose, duck, or sometimes mutton), pork skin, and white beans, originates from the south of France.

The cocktail menu will feature an eclectic array of delicious concoctions. Take the Duck-infused Rosemary Chocolate Vieux Carre, for example. Made with rye whiskey infused with duck fat, mixed with French cognac, Benedictine (herbal French liqueur), fresh rosemary, sweet vermouth and chocolate bitters, Madame’s skilled bartenders will create an interesting twist on the widely popular Vieux Carre.

“Jersey City has firmly established itself as a go-to spot for fine dining, featuring flavors from around the globe,” Rachel Sieg, Executive Director of the Historic Downtown Special Improvement District (HDSID), told TAPinto Jersey City. “Madame is going to further enhance that reputation, and be a treat for event the most sophisticated of palates.”

Rieben also acknowledged Jersey City’s status a destination for foodies. “It’s developing each year and a lot of people move here from Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, and they expect the quality of food, drink and service that they are used to.”

Madame will be open for dinner from Wednesday through Saturday. On Sunday nights, only the bar, which is called Panache, will be open. (The bar’s name derived from the word meaning “done with flair, flamboyance or style”.) To close out the weekend, Panache will be open for late happy hour and industry night, with a live DJ and entry by a password-at-the-door to bring through the speakeasy feel.