Les Halles (Park Avenue)
I've gone around cities testing Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation advise - impressed by his deep appreciation for local and unique. I told myself, I am dedicating my next New York dinner to his Les Halles.
dark, aged, dark rubby
A decorative, a bit victorian typeface greeted us on the busy Park Avenue, surrounded by sphere lights and a lively ambiance.
Inside, old illustrations, posters and art on the walls, fancy chandeliers, green carpet, dark wood and candle-lights. An older, dressed up crowd was predominant. It was a lot to take in, I felt a bit like I travelled back in time.
We asked to sit on their small front patio. Les Halles comes for a Parisian neighbourhood (known to be trendy, now-a-days, with a sexually-exploring crowd) and we got a taste of something similar happening here in New York.
To our surprise, we looked up that the restaurant had a change in management - so Bourdain was no longer head chef/owner. A bit of a disappointment at first but I was still curious.
hints of leather and anise
Our younger waitress was great, no pressure, she didn't seem to be there for how much time or money we spend - classy and old-school, I was impressed. We were informed of their prix-fix menu and then spent quite some time looking through their items. Their entertaining menu had triply illustrations which made me feel a bit uncomfortable, like people with animal faces kissing (but still kept that vintage feel.)
So we decided to try out a few things. Cheri had a glass of Cote du Rhone, while I was intrigued by their Sancerre. We asked for the Croutons de Coulommiers rotis au mile et poivre to share. Then from the fixed menu - beet green salad, followed by pork bourguignon.
medium bodied, tart balance, smoke aroma
ur wine glasses made their way, both worthwhile but not unique nor memorable. My Loire white was light and crisp, similar to sauvignon blanc. Cheri's Cote du Rhone had hints of earthy-mushrooms on the nose, which I wasn't in the mood for. The Croutons de Coulommiers were impeccable - soaked baguette breads with brie flowing on them, glazed in light honey and black pepper. It really livened up our senses, next to their bland beet greens, with a nice touch of sweet, tangerine.
We ordered a couple more glasses of wine. I heard our waitress recommend their Chardonnay to the table next to ours, so we went with a glass of their '09 Napa Chardonnay and young Argentinian Malbec. Next, our pork bourguignon was a bit on the dry side, in a simple, conservative tomato, garlic base - not impressed.
It started pouring on us, a good reason for cheri and I to get closer and cozier under the umbrellas. We went back in time again, it was kind of romantic.
For dessert, I heard a fried have their cheesecake so there was no way I was missing it, unless they were out of it - which was the case. So we just went with their apple cream-puff dessert with raspberry sauce - nothing out of the ordinary.
a bit bitter, capable of being rich & full
Overall, the size of their plates, for presentation sake, was small and tight - surprising at first but typical for the time-period.
This prix-fix menu turned out to be a similar story to the Toronto summerlicious - un inspired food for the sale - giving the customer a "deal".
We made our conclusions this year, no matter how fancy the place is.
overall... an aged but confused Boredeaux blend