There is bar food, and then there is bar food. Jeannier's serves the second kind.
The first kind is nachos and wings and burgers with fries. The other is onion soup gratinee made with a delicious homemade broth, crab omelets and a sirloin steak sandwich. With oeufs a la neige (floating island) for dessert.
Jeannier's is predominantly a traditional French, special-night-out restaurant located in an apartment house, with all the interior-design excitement that an apartment house dining room usually generates. Don't get me wrong. It's a very pleasant place to be; and the kitchen produces rather expensive, very good French food.
But Jeannier's did something smart: In the area where the bar is, the restaurant began serving a different and much more casual menu. It's short, and just about everything on it is under $10 -- French bread pizza, an omelet or pasta du jour, a couple of salads, some New Orleans gumbo, a soup or two.
The onion soup arrived at our table hot, rich and flavorful, with plenty of good cheese. The soup of the day was what the waitress called "conti," a delicious, not-too-thick puree of lentils with vibrant seasonings.
Jeannier's soft crab sandwich, even this early in the season, was wonderful -- the fat crab crisp and juicy, served on toast with a assertively vinegary pasta salad on the side.
Shrimp salad Caribbean was made with small shrimp; but its tart mayonnaise was set off with chunks of fresh pineapple and soft, ripe avocado. Pasta salad and a vegetable salad garnished it.
Be sure to ask the price of the specials when the waitress recites them -- they really belong to the main dining room. One of my guests had the swordfish Cajun style, perfectly cooked with subtle Cajun seasonings (if that's not an oxymoron) and a fine butter sauce. With it came roast potatoes and a pretty salade verte. Luckily, The Sun was paying: The swordfish cost twice as much as the items on the bar menu.
Ignore the pastry tray the waitress brings by, and ask what the homemade desserts are. When we were there, Jeannier's had ice cream in an almond tuile cookie with fresh raspberries and raspberry mousse.
More of that fine raspberry mousse decorated a chocolate tulip cup filled with chocolate mousse.
And, of course, you can always get the dessert specialty of the house, oeufs a la neige: poached meringue in a light custard sauce with a halo of spun sugar.
Parking, by the way, is free in the lot across the street. Show your ticket, and the maitre d' will give you a token to get you out of the gate.
Cafe at Jeannier's
Where: Broadview Apartments, 105 W. 39th St.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, noon-9 p.m., Friday, noon-10 p.m., Saturday, 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m.
Credit cards accepted: Major credit cards
Features: Casual fare
Non-smoking section? Yes
Call: (410) 889-3303