Lucien 14 1st Ave. (@ 1st St.)
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Sure there are several bistros in the East Village where you can find mustard-colored walls featuring faded Lillet and “laughing cow” ads, a tin ceiling, tile floors, rickety chairs, and romantic amber lighting. But Lucien is a classic—the Balthazar of the East Village. Maybe it’s the photos of Michael Stipe and Keith Richards blessing the casually hip crowd, or the people-watching from the large front windows, or rustic entrées such as duck with candied turnips and figs ($22), and roasted squab with wild mushroom risotto and foie gras jus ($28). Although it goes on and off the menu, regulars know to order the juicy, exquisitely peppered burger on a baguette to sop up a night of drinking in the East Village or Lower East Side.