In 2020, chef Andrea Calstier and his wife Elana Oliver were ready for their next move. Born and raised in Marseilles, France, the high school sweethearts were living the American dream. They’d moved to Manhattan in 2017 and opened their first restaurant a year later, when they were only 23 years old. Papilles was a 10-table restaurant in the East Village that only served a tasting menu; it was instantly hailed as one of the best French restaurants in Manhattan.
“We were very young when we opened, and at some point, we wanted to evolve and try something new,” says Calstier who began culinary school at the age of 15 and has worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants in France and New York City. “It was the middle of COVID, and even though we had amazing customers at the time who really supported us, it was difficult. We had to make our menu ‘to go,’ but we were a tasting menu fine dining restaurant, and you cannot do that to go. So, it was a bit stressful, and we were wondering, ‘Okay, what do we do now?’ We were thinking about doing something different in the city, but we also had a long-term project on our minds. We had a lot of different ideas, and we were ready to take that next step.”
Their dream was to open two French restaurants: one would serve traditional, everyday French food and the other would be a fine dining, tasting menu only establishment – and they would both be in the same space.
“I have worked in Michelin-starred restaurants since I was 16; it’s something I purely love and am really passionate about,” says Calstier. “But I also really enjoy cooking classic dishes that people can enjoy for lunch when they get together with their family or friends, or even for a special occasion; dishes that are a bit more affordable. So I was dreaming of opening two restaurants.”
But where this dream would be realized was anyone’s guess.
“Our goal was to build a restaurant with a bistro and fine dining that would also have a nice outdoor space,” says Oliver. “We wanted a location where we could have a closer relationship with our farmers or suppliers and with the customers in general. But we didn’t know where it would be. We weren’t even sure it would be in the U.S.”
And then, fate stepped in. North Salem resident Elizabeth Miller purchased the property on 721 Titicus Road, which housed the former Vox restaurant, and she was looking for the right partners to open a new restaurant. Miller asked world-renowned chef Daniel Boulud if he knew anyone who would be interested in her project. He did – Calstier, who had worked at Boulud’s flagship restaurant, Daniel, when he first moved to New York. So Boulud connected them.
“We didn’t know anything about North Salem, so it was a big step for us,” Oliver explains. “We came up to visit maybe two times, and we very quickly realized that we have to do it. The place was amazing.”
Renovating the World War II-era building uncovered a few surprises, such as a crumbling foundation and rotting wood, so in August of 2021, the building was demolished, except for one wall on the eastern side of the building that still remains today.
Although the layout and square footage remained the same during the rebuild, the overall structure received an upgrade.
“Now, everything is brand new,” says Calstier. “We have better insulation, a better HVAC system, and a really solid building.”
“We started working on this project in 2020,” Oliver adds. “For about a year and a half, it was manageable for us to have both places because this was in the very early stages. But in March, we needed to be here, and it was the right time to sell the restaurant and move. So that’s what we did, and we’ve been here full time since March. It’s been very helpful for the project for us to be present and available for everything.”
The modern interiors are clean and bright with breathtaking views of the property. Cenadou, the 50-seat French bistro is upstairs and La Bastide, which seats about 12 people, is downstairs.
The first thing you’ll notice upon entering the restaurant is a generous view of the property, courtesy of a two-story almost floor-to-ceiling window opposite the front door. Take a few steps inside, and to the right, there’s a small bar, while to the left is Cenadou. The cream-colored walls, wooden tables and large windows create an open, airy feel. But if you walk straight ahead instead, you’ll head down half a flight of stairs, pass by the grand window, and then turn to descend the other half flight where you’ll immediately see the generous wine cellar and La Bastide to the right. La Bastide offers a smaller, cozier feel with slightly darker walls and white tablecloths.
Cenadou will be open for lunch and dinner during the week as well as brunch on the weekend. La Bastide will have two dinner seatings each evening and only offer a tasting menu. Both restaurants feature an open kitchen and local, seasonal cuisine; you’ll see Calstier cooking upstairs during the day and both upstairs and downstairs in the evenings (there’s a set of stairs in the back that goes between the two kitchens).
“Upstairs you will find some classic French dishes that I’m really excited about doing,” says Calstier. “Even though you’ll find some of these dishes elsewhere, I’ve enjoyed going back to them and cooking them the right way. Plus, there are a lot of amazing dishes that people around here may not know about. There will also be lighter, more seasonal options with vegetables from our garden and some staples that will remain on the menu all year.”
“Downstairs, the menu will constantly evolve based on seasonality and market availability, but it won’t be drastically different day-to-day,” Calstier continues. “You might see a new item every month, for example.”
“A really important part of the guest experience is for each person to leave La Bastide feeling content and not stuffed,” Oliver adds. “It’s a delicate balance, and we’ve received great feedback on that in the past, so I know we’ll find the right balance.”
They’re striving for balance outside as well. The restaurant sits on several acres of land and both restaurants look out onto the property. La Bastide, which is on the ground level in the back, features a floor-to-ceiling folding glass wall that opens onto a limestone patio where, in nice weather, it will become a continuation of the dining room (no additional tables will be added) for outdoor dining and/or a drink before or after a meal. Upstairs, Cenadou offers a terrace for guests to enjoy their meal outdoors.
And they have additional plans in the works, including planting a raised bed vegetable garden that will provide some produce for the restaurants, a wildflower meadow and, one day, they may transform the house on the property into a bed and breakfast.
“We hope our restaurant will become an old-school destination where people will come to experience fine dining and enjoy the wine,” says Calstier.
“This property has a lot of potential,” Oliver adds. “We can definitely evolve down the road.”
They hope to open Cenadou in January and La Bastide approximately four to six weeks later once things are running smoothly upstairs.
Click here for Calstier’s recipe for Confit of Lamb Shoulder with Fingerling Potatoes.
This article was published in the January/February 2023 print edition of Katonah Connect.
Gia Miller is an award-winning journalist and the editor in chief/co-publisher of Katonah Connect. She says she’s living the dream she never knew she had. Gia enjoys telling people’s stories, laughing at her crazy dog and a good podcast. She thanks multiple alarms, fermented grapes and her husband for helping her get through each day. Her love languages are food and humor.