Artisinal, NYC

August 5, 2008

On August 3, 2008, Blair and I had lunch at Artisinal. I had looked forward to trying this restaurant as it has the same chef-proprietor as Picholine, one of my favorite NYC restaurants. The décor is a successful reproduction of an art-deco Paris bistro, although the noise level is quite high despite the high ceilings. There is a cave for ripening cheese which also serves as a four-seat private dining room. There is a cheese bar along one wall where one can peruse for buying retail or for selecting into a cheese course.
Most of the dishes include cheese in one way or another, which may help explain the turnover needed to keep such a large inventory properly ripened.

Blair ordered the Basket of Gougères,

which we shared. They were warm, fresh and nice.

My starter was supposed to be
Grilled Octopus
Fingerling Potatoes & Smoked Paprika

This was very disappointing as the potatoes, which usually go so well with octopus, were omitted for a pile of ordinary frisée. The octopus was okay, but a small portion.

Blair’s main course was the
Sautéed skate wing
Blood Orange Grenobloise & Cauliflower

Cooking skate wing is tricky; it was on the mushy side this time.

My main course was a
Pulled Berkshire Pork
grilled sandwich with Pickled Cabbage & Muenster

It was copious and good, but the special ingredients didn’t really distinguish it from a good Reuben sandwich.

Blair finished with a
Crème Brûlée
Orange Zest & Cinnamon Wafers.

The whole backside of the large format menu is a wine list with extensive variety. All the wines are available by the bottle or by the glass so we ordered two glasses each.  Blair started with the 2007 Rain (Marlborough, New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc. I had the 2007 Frog’s Leap (Rutherford, Napa Valley) Sauvignon Blanc with my octopus. Blair had 2005 Pinot d’Alsace Domaine Bott-Geyl with his skate and I had 2005 Exlibris Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley.) The wines were okay except for the disappointing Alsatian pinot.

I found the meal to be quite disappointing compared to what I had expected from Terence Brennan. I know that it was just a bistro Sunday brunch, but the execution, particularly of the octopus and skate was substandard.

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