Les Halles Downtown
15 John Street (off Broadway)
New York, NY 10038
212-285-8585 phone, 212-791-3280 fax
Yes I`m one of those who admire Anthony Bourdain. It`s not because I`m a chef and I idolize him, or because I have to like him because it’s a written law..No I like him because he is cool and honest. Anyway this post is not about Anthony Bourdain, it’s about Les Halles, who is already “Long gone” if I want to quote ZAGAT`s 2011 review! Still, there`s no Les halles without Bourdain, he is the reason foodies all over the world get excited even by just mentioning the name. It’s a little bit like mentioning Ferra Adrian or El Bulli, but a bit more realistic and affordable way. The brasseries cookbook is available almost all over the world, written of course by “you know who”, and has recipes in it, which you can still order from the menu. Yes i do own the book…cooked from it? To be honest not yet, but planning, cos even the most simplest things like, tomato salad and french fries has a new level of approach in it. So yes, I couldn`t wait, to finally dine at the famous Les Halles and taste the fries!
Of course not only the fries, to be honest if I had the capability ive would have eaten the whole menu, but I couldn`t even finish my own 2 portions. Note to self the american “bigger portion” is different from all over the world, by translation it would be like “It’s a bigger portion” meaning”it is massive”!
Its January, the snow storm CNN was talking about has arrived. It is as big as it managed to clear the streets of Manhattan from people, and everybody decided to stay in. Well, almost everyone. As we arrive to Les Halles to out pretty late dinner reservation, something unexpected happens…the restaurant is empty! The weather is just as cold as it managed to freeze the citizens appetite and leave most places empty. Well, crowd or no crowd we are eating here tonight! As for the service, it was pretty good, fast, and polite. Hoping it is about the same when the place is full of costumers. The menus are the same that were on the website no changes there, also there are not much specials tonight so we already pretty much know what we are going to eat. The appetizers are home made terrine, and toasted brie with honey and black pepper. We get them in no time, but im not really impressed. Also I don’t know what I really expected? So the most simplest foods if they are done in Les Halles are going to taste and look different? Well, they don`t, and they didn`t. The presentation was a bit boring, as the taste was alright, but, I expected a bit more, a twist or a secret ingredient. The terrine might have been a bit of work, but the toasted brie wasn`t anything more, what an unexperienced cook couldn`t make at home.
For main course I decided to be a bit more adventurous so, i picked the raw meat and the raw egg. Yes I had a beef tartare, which is a bit of a risky order, but I figured it is a Tuesday, the stock must be fresh, it is made at the table and we have to live an adventurous life, so I went for it!. The portion was quite big, it was made at my table, but the ingredients for me were a bit surprising. As so far, from my dad (who is a chef for 30 years now) I only saw the mustard-butter-egg-salt-pepper-onion version for the mix. Here instead, were some capers, and tabasco, parsley, among the onion and mustard, it was nice, actually it was more then nice, it was indeed very tasty! It came with the famous thin and crispy fries, and side salad. The meat had a beautiful pink-red colour even long after the mix, and very fresh taste. I couldnt stop ordering bread for the tartar ( we eat it with toast, hungarian is a funny nation). It was a good choice, I didn`t have tartare for a long time. My dinner partner had “Choucroute Garnie” which might sound french, indeed it is a very German selection. It is a very typical german meal, which is the favourite among tourists at the Xmas markets. It’s a Frankfurter, a white sausage, a slice of smoked pork loin, and sour cabbage aka. “sauerkraut”. You can like or hate this dish, I guess there’s absolutely no fantasy in it, and you don`t need to b a good chef to prepare it. Of course he got a pretty big portion from, it, as much i tried to warn him, he didn`t listen to me. Later he admitted, he should have taken the tuna, as much heavy the meal was, it wasn`t too tasty. Of course there was no room for dessert.
It was a nice dinner, but I’ve been missing something. Maybe more people in the restaurant, and a bit more twists in the food, or just maybe a unique taste. Maybe this is what happens when you raise the bar too high, and forget why You went there on the first place.
- Les Halles in New York? (friendseat.com)