The cute name that Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson chose for the TriBeCa restaurant they’ll open early next week is not meant to suggest a smaller or less serious French restaurant. “Frenchette” is the title of a song David Johansen recorded in 1978, long before the chefs met in the kitchen of Daniel.
The culinary partnership they began a quarter-century ago, in 1993, is a rare one: The two have worked together on equal footing, rather than as a chef and a loyal second-in-command, or a chef and restaurateur.
Now, after years of cooking at Keith McNally’s restaurants, they finally have their own place. And they’re still on speaking terms.
“Mostly,” Mr. Nasr said, his low-key humor on display. The secret? Plenty of room for give-and take.
Frenchette leans heavily on their training in traditional French cooking and their experience at Balthazar, Minetta Tavern, Pastis and Schiller’s Liquor Bar. But they say their tastes, like those of the dining public, have changed. “Our food has become less adorned, with less sauce,” said Mr. Nasr, 53. (Mr. Hanson is 51.)
They intend to engage several local farms, not just for produce but also for meat and poultry, nose-to-tail. They’ll serve only dinner at first, though they soon plan to open from morning, with breakfast, through late evening.
The restaurant has a welcoming bar, some booths in front and two dining areas beyond, done in a Parisian-looking blend of Modernism and Art Deco. Designed by Springs Collective of Brooklyn, it features richly polished, curving woodwork against cream walls, lit by vintage-style fluorescent fixtures and globe lights.