There are a lot of Upper East Side archetypes: overbearing young parents perpetually on their way out of a SoulCycle class, drunk people in polo shirts at Dorrian's, and my personal favorite: older people who are three martinis deep. Come to Quatorze Bis to observe this last group in its natural habitat. And also to eat the greatest goat cheese salad in America.
Quatorze is never particularly crowded, but in addition to the couples who've been married for 40+ years, you'll find an eclectic mix of neighborhood families at least pretending to enjoy each other's company and assorted others who just know there's no more reliable French bistro in the area where you can always get a table. In the 80s, Quatorze Bis actually used to be a hotspot on 14th Street, hence the name ("fourteen" in French), but that's almost hard to believe, because it feels like it's been on 79th Street forever.
Quatorze is the kind of place you order the same thing every time - for us, it's always the goat cheese salad and half chicken with french fries, both always perfectly simple and satisfying. The prices are steep, but in this area, paying $6 more than you should for a chicken is kind of part of what you signed up for. Sorry.
Charming as the art deco posters and Parisian vibes are, this isn't a First/Early In The Game Spot, but it is definitely a shoe-in on the Dinner With The Parents shortlist. Keep it in your back pocket when the family gets hangry after a day at the museum or strenuous walking on Madison Avenue. Satiate them with liquor and the illusion of being on the Left Bank, and then go in on the french fries.
I dare you to find a better goat cheese salad this side of the Atlantic. Fresh lettuce with a mustard vinaigrette and a perfectly melted circle of goat cheese on top. It's simple but so, so good.
You're a maniac if you don't get the goat cheese salad, but if you insist, oysters are an option as well.
There are two chickens, but the half is the one you want, largely because it comes with world class crispy french fries. The chicken is stellar too.
Our other go-to order here. It's a simple but always perfectly executed (look at those infomercial-quality grill marks, would you) piece of fish, with a mountain of shoestring fries.
You'll never go wrong with a steak frites in a French bistro.