Robert Tréboux, 1924–2012

 

The James Beard Foundation is saddened by the loss of Robert Tréboux, owner of Le Veau d'Or and an influential New York restaurateur. With a hospitality career that began in the 1940s and continued to the present, Tréboux opened, operated, and worked in several Manhattan institutions, including La Pavillon, Le Manoir, and La Rotisserie Française. His venerable Upper East Side bistro, Le Veau d'Or, won a James Beard America's Classic Award in 2011. In honor of his life and his legendary role in New York City dining, we're sharing James Oseland's profile of Le Veau d'Or from last year's James Beard Awards program, as well as a video about the restaurant that was produced for and shown at the ceremony.

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The diminutive French bistro Le Veau d’Or in Midtown Manhattan is a time capsule. There’s the classic French fare, straight out of Escoffier; the formal but clubby decor, all beveled glass and polished mahogany; and the amiable owner, Monsieur Tréboux, who chats up the regulars, pours drinks behind the bar, and ferries dishes from the kitchen.

 

Le Veau d’Or (The Golden Calf) opened in 1937; Tréboux—who is now in his 80s and runs the restaurant with his daughter, Cathy—bought it in 1985, after a career’s employment in many of the neighborhood’s now bygone French restaurants.

 

In its heyday, Le Veau d’Or was a celebrity haunt. Grace Kelly met Oleg Cassini there, and food critic Craig Claiborne called it the one restaurant he couldn’t live without. Although Tréboux’s clientele has changed over the years, the food is as traditional and delicious as ever.

 

The affordable table d’hôte menu, which includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert, offers such classics as coq au vin, cassoulet, boeuf à la bourguignonne, and céleri rèmoulade. On any day of the week, you can get an excellent trout meunière and a steller terrine du chef. All that said, this isn’t the kind of place where the chef takes center stage. If anyone’s a star here, it’s Tréboux.

 

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