Le Jardin du Roi is a hidden culinary gem in Chappaqua, New York.
If we were touring Paris or Lyon and had tripped over this charming French bistro in an off-the-beaten-path courtyard, we would have blogged about it in a heartbeat. But because it’s in our own backyard, we seemed to have let it slip by. One advantage of waiting this long: We’re able to say without qualification that after dining at Le Jardin du Roi for more than a decade (breakfasts, lunches and dinners), we can attest that the experience has been consistently good and the place is well worth visiting—repeatedly.
Paneled in dark woods with occasional sunlight streaming through the paned windows, Le Jardin du Roi offers a warm, relaxed and unpretentious ambiance. Tables line both sides of the cozy dining room without too much space between them. An L-shaped alcove houses a small bar (with stools) and additional mahogany leather booths for dining. Several years ago, one New York Times reviewer aptly described the décor as “shabby chic.”
The setting and fare are sophisticated without being stuffy. The place is always lively, attracting mostly locals as well as their families and friends. It’s a popular meeting place for business breakfasts, ladies who lunch, and showing guests from out of town what a small town like this can offer.
Many diners (including us) have reported presidential sightings at Le Jardin du Roi, as it is one of the places that Bill and Hillary Clinton often frequent when they are in town. You might also spot Vanessa Williams, who grew up here and still visits.
During spring, summer and autumn, diners tend to prefer dining alfresco, sipping aperitifs or glasses of wine under the oversized market umbrellas on the patio that are surrounded with plants and flowers. It’s a perfect spot for Sunday brunch.
The menu and service
The extensive menu, along with a changing list of daily specials has something for everyone, including comfort foods for kids and indulgent adults. Of course, the typically “French” dishes are very well prepared. Some of the most popular ones include the French onion soup, French toast, French fries, and Croque-Madame and Croque-Monsieur.
In addition, there are inventive American dishes including salads, sandwiches, and fish and meat entrees—many of the recipes rely upon locally sourced ingredients. The delicious hamburgers are juicy and like all other dishes on the menu, prepared to order. In fact, shortly after sitting down, your waiter will ask if anyone at the table has food allergies or sensitivities. There are also ample menu options for vegetarians and health-conscious eaters.
The same French chef, Rudy Beltran-Prats, has been working at Le Jardin du Roi for the past seven years. The bistro’s wait staff is well-trained, attentive and professional. Highly-rated Chappaqua tap water is served in empty wine bottles, and French bread served warm is always on the table. There’s also a nice wine list from whence comes those empty bottles.
With delicious food, accommodating service and a charming setting, Le Jardin du Roi is the perfect place to enjoy a meal in Chappaqua. It’s tough for a small hamlet to support a first-class restaurant; in fact, many have come and gone. The 15-year longevity and popularity of this one bears testimony to its quality and fit with the community.
- Le Jardin du Roi is nestled in a courtyard next to the Bagel Emporium so it isn’t easily spotted from the street.
- Stick with Chappaqua water; it’s free and delicious. Chappaqua has its own water treatment plant and the quality of the water is so high that the water is purchased by other municipalities.
- If you want a more private, quiet table, ask to be seated in the room with the bar.
IF YOU GO
Le Jardin du Roi, 95 King Street, Chappaqua, New York 10514
- Open from 8AM to midnight daily
- Reservations can be made on OpenTable
*Unless you have friends in the hamlet of Chappaqua or nearby towns of Pleasantville, Millwood or Mount Kisco, it’s unlikely that you’ll serendipitously pass through Chappaqua. However a visit to the town could be a nice getaway from Manhattan. How often do you get to visit the hometown of a living President?
Our favorite time of year is autumn when the changing colors of the trees lining the Saw Mill River Parkway are nothing short of magnificent. Conveniently located just across the street from Le Jardin du Roi is the Horace Greeley House, a small museum that houses the New Castle Historical Society. Built in 1820 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was once the home of newspaper editor and presidential candidate Horace Greeley.
Less than a mile away, you can breeze past the Clintons Home at 15 Old House Lane, on a cul-de-sac off of Route 117. It’s a lovely home but not as palatial as you might expect.
If you have room for dinner, another nearby but more formal culinary destination worth visiting is Crabtree’s Kittle House. Located a few blocks closer to Mount Kisco, it is known for its new American cuisine and extraordinary wine cellar.
Previously on More Time To Travel: