RN74 serves $5 pretzels and "fish sticks" during its happy hour, but there's no disguising the upmarket tilt of Michael Mina's downtown restaurant. The 33-page wine list includes dozens of bottles that each cost more than the average server pays for a month's rent, which has a way of making even financially-secure eaters feel like peasants.
I won't endorse self-pity, but there's nothing wrong with indulging peasant tendencies at RN74 when cassoulet is on the menu. The southern French casserole got its start as a workingman's stew, the Gallic equivalent of Crock Pot chili. But chefs have since toyed with the soul-warming dish of sausage and beans, remaking the recipe with goose fat and duck confit.
At RN74, the "cassoulet" (it gets quotation marks, same as the fish sticks, presumably to reassure customers they're not spending $29 on potluck fare) is made with merguez sausage and garlic bread crumbs. It's a triumph of textures and earthy, meaty flavors. It's phenomenal - and no doubt would be even more so with an $1800 bottle of wine.