Le Moulin Eatery & Wine Bar
1 Pierpointe St
Writing a review of Le Moulin Eatery & Wine Bar presents a conundrum. The establishment is unlike any of the other excellent restaurants that we in the county are accustomed to. The dining experience is more like being invited to break bread and enjoy a glass of wine, or two, with the proprietor of a rustic inn in the French countryside.
Owner and Chef Josyane Colwell hails from Nice, reflecting the foundation of her culinary influences. She operated a very successful, long-tenured catering-retail business in Irvington, but in February 2016 she moved to her present site in Yonkers and transformed her business into an adaptable restaurant, wine bar, and catering operation. (Her private-event prowess is so well regarded, she won a 2018 Best of Westchester Readers’ award in the Wedding Caterer category — see page 91.)
Le Moulin’s snug interior
The pocket-sized spot, on the ground floor of a downtown Yonkers high-rise has glimpses of the Hudson River from the dining-room windows. The eclectic, rustic, bric-a-brac décor seats only a score, with room for eight or so in the adjoining, inviting bar. The room is intimate and welcoming.
Josie, as her regulars know her, boasts that she offers “coastal French dining on the Hudson.” She calls her cuisine “rural French, locally sourced, and crafted with love.” French is the keyword in both of these descriptions.
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The compact menu changes often; in fact, on our first visit, Colwell cited the choices from memory, not bothering or really needing to offer us a printed copy. Despite describing itself as a wine bar, no list was proffered. Madame might have an interesting white from Lebanon or a rich red from the Rhone at the ready.
If it appears as if Colwell does it all, she nearly does. She is the sole greeter, server, sommelier, food runner, and busser. When you call for a reservation, you are dialing her cell number. She determines the menu and purchases the provisions, orchestrating everything. It is a personal labor of love — of her craft and her clients.
If you choose to drop in for a glass of wine and a nibble, the charcuterie and cheese would be a great way to begin. Shards of saucisson, salami, jambon de Bayonne, and prosciutto share an attractive, rustic platter milled from a crosscut log with perfectly ripe cheeses and fruit skewers. Succulent Kobe beef sliders or a trio of Moulin’s pissaladière (flatbread triangles, one ham, one artichoke and spinach, one cherry tomato and olive) are perfect hors d’oeuvres. A pair of brioche croque monsieur, filled with Brie, topped with melted Gruyère, sitting on a plank of Parmesan frico (crisps) is a perfect fit for fromage fanatics.
Josayne Colwell, the doting chef and propietor
The main-course offerings mirror those found on a classic French menu. Onion soup is an excellent rendition; its melting mantle of Gruyère floating on crisp croutons is true to the original. Spring salad with chèvre and Champagne vinaigrette is beautifully presented. Fresh, crisp baby lettuces form a bouquet wrapped in cucumber, a style of presentation borrowed from Colwell’s catering collection.
On a chilly, early spring evening, a warming cassoulet hit the spot. Creamy white beans braised with duck confit was subtly flavored with fresh thyme. Chou-croute is not a selection that one often sees these days, but Le Moulin’s rendering of the Alsatian amalgam of sausage, smoked meats, potatoes, and sauerkraut was superb. Breast of duck served on a cylinder of potatoes gratin garnished with a leek-tied bundle of vegetable batons was perfectly cooked, its sauce bittersweet.
Beef Bourguignon and pork Milanese were other familiar choices. Fish offerings fluctuate. The evening’s choices are driven both by the market and the chef’s vast repertoire.
Desserts were even more focused. Four multicolored and flavored macaroons or flawless crème brûlée.
To some, the items I describe might sound a bit stodgy, rich on the palate and devastating to the waistline. The biggest compliment to the chef and her staff is that the food has a magical lightness that makes it easy to not only finish but also relish every bite of every dish.
Open only Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, it is best to call ahead. If Colwell has a big gig in Manhattan or an off-premise gala in Greenwich, it could impact your options. The place, and its energetic proprietor, beat to their own pots and pans.
P. J. Correale is a seasoned veteran with more than four decades of experience in the restaurant industry as an owner and chef.