Yonkers à la Français

If Josyane Colwell’s more than four decades of experience as a chef and caterer have taught her anything, it’s that creating a meal is more than just whipping together a list of ingredients or arranging food on a plate.

“Food is like having a hug,” says Colwell, who is affectionately referred to by friends and frequent customers as Josy. “It’s that kind of emotion.”

Colwell aims to share that emotion with diners who visit her intimate eatery and wine bar, Le Moulin, in Yonkers. At Le Moulin, many of the dishes are inspired by Colwell’s childhood years growing up in the south of France, where dinners were created using whatever ingredients were in season or vegetables that had been picked fresh that day from the garden. Colwell employs those same methods in Yonkers, where her menu rotates each week depending on what ingredients are available.

Before opening the restaurant at 1 Pierpointe St. in 2016, the self-taught chef operated her catering business of the same name from Irvington for more than 20 years.

In her new space, dark wooden tables and industrial chairs and fixtures lend a modern feel to the cozy eatery, while many wines are sourced from Colwell’s home country. Colwell, ever the accommodating hostess, says the restaurant’s seating arrangements can be adjusted to fit various party sizes or needs. High-tops can be incorporated for a less formal affair or cocktails, while long farm tables are brought in for larger, sit-down dinners. Bridal showers or group brunches are typical at Le Moulin, and Colwell frequently makes space on the dining room floor for live jazz performances or a featured opera singer.

Colwell’s years of experience are apparent not just in the food she serves, but also in her hospitality. When she’s not working in the kitchen, she’s talking to diners, explaining dishes or sharing stories of her culinary beginnings. 

Our meal starts with a stack of fried eggplant, tomato and zucchini atop a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Juicy jumbo shrimp are served on a bed of chopped mushrooms, an unexpected delight.

Roasted chicken is simply delicious, with sautéed greens and roasted onions. A veal shank osso buco, paired with julienned vegetables, is equally scrumptious.

Colwell will tell you herself that her sauces are where her cooking skills truly shine. A dish of black sea bass is a spectacular example, served with a pair of mussels and a rich white wine sauce.

The restaurant also offers a number of appetizers or small plates, like a charcuterie board, perfect for nibbling while enjoying a glass of Cabernet. Cheese crisps are the serving basket for a savory ratatouille, while bite-sized salmon cakes are served individually with dill aioli.

Colwell notes that the area surrounding her restaurant and wine bar is seeing a shift. New luxury apartment complexes are sprouting up on either side of her quaint space, offering the chance for a new batch of Yonkers residents to enjoy the unique dining experience at Le Moulin.

“It’s a new adventure,” she says of her waterfront restaurant. “I’m excited to see what happens.”

For more, visit lemoulineateryandwinebar.com.

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