Volume 17 • Issue 30 | Dec. 17 - 23, 2004

508 Greenwich Street
(just south of Spring St.,)
appetizers: $8-$18, entrees $22-$36
Open for lunch and dinner
(212) 966-6225

Villager photo by Frank Angelino

Chef Anthony Demes and his wife, Maura Jarach, brought their restaurant, “Couvron,” from Portland, Oregon, a popular restaurant there which “received the highest accolades from the local food press.”

Appealing new French cafe with homemade touch

Young couple bring along their many talents

By Frank Angelino

The owners of Couvron restaurant, in the emerging Hudson Square neighborhood (north of Tribeca, west of Soho), have high hopes. Born by the sound food pedigree of its owners — chef Anthony Demes and his wife, Maura Jarach, they have recently opened a 65-seat dining room opposite two nearly completed residential condominiums.

With Maura working the front of the room, the owners have had a chance hone their fine food as diners begin to find out what they are doing. No strangers to the New York restaurant business, C. I. A. graduate Demes, cooked in the kitchens of Café des Artist, Maxim’s and La Caravelle before he and Jarach immigrated to Portland, Oregon for eight years.

There they opened the first Courvon, named for the French town where Jarach was born to a U. S. military family. It received the highest accolades from the local food press. But after many successful years, they decided to close it.

“Tony wanted to come back to cook in New York, and I wanted to study music composition here,” Jarach says.

“We looked a long time at lots of different neighborhoods before we found this one. Just like in Portland, we built everything in this place ourselves,” Jarach said.

All of the “small ware” and the entire wine cellar were brought from the Portland Couvron. But for New York, Jarach made all the cushions for the banquettes that line both walls.

Couvron has a nice handmade feel to its dining room, with a bar where you can sit and eat in the front, comfortable seating and plenty of portraits along the walls. Translucent Bernardaud covered votive lights with scenes of France emit a soft candle light glow. While the view through the large window in the front looks out at a construction site, with a little imagination and time it soon will be an occupied building that will give more light and life to this now quiet part of Greenwich Street.

Demes is an accomplished chef who cooks in a style which is, as he puts it, “Kind of contemporary French, almost new American.” He changes his menu frequently, to present whatever is fresh and seasonal.

Flavors are straightforward and good. Chilled celery root puree served in a large glass is dressed with truffle oil and parsley oil and is eaten with crispy embedded potato discs. It is a delicious dish.

Another appetizer, tuna tartar is refreshingly accented with Dijon mustard, shallots and capers. Demes says that his Oregon quail with fingerling potato puree, shallot and chive compote, and port wine sauce is one of his favorites along with a yellow fin tuna burger that has seared fois gras on top and is served with a lobster crème fraiche sauce.

The chef pairs a mound of Carnaroli rice, which many consider Italy’s finest risotto rice, with succulent pieces of lobster arranged on top. The entrée is not called a risotto, but the rice has a risotto’s entire full flavor thanks to a celery root-white truffle sauce. It’s a very satisfying dish, which for all of its richness, is not over the top. Another entrée is a sautéed duck breast fanned out over crispy walnut spatzle and duck confit.

An apple tartin dessert is succulent to the taste and is paired with a vanilla bean ice cream. A tasting of homemade cookies and chocolates appear on your table at the end of the meal.

Jarach says they are, “Encouraging people in the neighborhood to come in and have a drink at the bar with an appetizer and come into the dining room to finish the meal.” The owners hope to open soon for brunch so they can serve bistro fare such as lamb burgers.

Downtown Express is published by
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Downtown Express is published by
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