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Monday
Jul272009

CLOSED: Brunch at Bar Artisanal, 7/25/09









 

  •  Cuisine: French bistro, small plates
  •  Scene: Casual and sophisticated atmosphere, large space
  •  Occasion: Dramatic interior, drinks and light bites (pre-party), cheese specialist, brunch
  •  Must try (brunch): Gougeres, Grilled Cheese Bites, Almond Croissant (pain perdu), Pork Belly Hash
  •  Brunch menu pricing: Amuse Bouche, all under $10; Entrees, all under $16
  •  Reservations: Via phone
  •  Phone: (212) 925-1600
  •  Website: www.barartisanal.com
  •  Location: 268 W. Broadway (At 6th Ave)

 

I must be coming down with another case of French “fever.” This could explain my recent cravings for charcuterie, cheese, bread and wine. Every three-four months, France successfully seduces me in to making a return visit; however, with our crappy economy, my lack of travel funds and zero remaining “Personal Time Off” days (at work), the closest I’ll get to Paris is by way of a croque madame sandwich and a glass of Pinot Noir. Luckily, NYC has plenty of French bistros and brasseries for me to escape to when I need to a good ol’ fashioned emotional eating pity party.

And while we’re on the topic of French bistros, check out my brunch review from the gorgeous, brand-new Bar Artisanal:

What’s the space like?

Think: Dramatic floor to ceiling paned-windows, black and white checkered tile floors, grand chandeliers, suede olive green banquets, oversized flower arrangements, a cheese/charcuterie station, and a large bar. Even beyond NYC standards, Bar Artisanal is very spacious and open; I can’t imagine ever feeling overwhelmed or claustrophobic. To top it all off, charming French music plays subtly in the background, transporting diners across the Atlantic.

How was the service?

Friendly, knowledgeable and perfectly paced.

Did you drink?

I began brunch with a Kir (Sancerre/white wine topped with a splash of Crème de Cassis), but chose to sip ice water for the remainder of the meal.

How was the food?

Overall, brunch was delicious! In order to taste as much as we could, Shirley and I ordered a variety of items and split everything in half. We clearly overestimated our hunger, but the menu had too many items that we simply could not resist!

  • Gougeres: Golf-ball-sized morsels that taste like a cross between a popover and a gruyere cheese soufflé. Melt-in-your-mouth perfection!
  • Cheese Tempura: A glass vase came filled with sea salt and pink peppercorns that anchored a bouquet of slender bamboo sticks; each one spearing a tempura-battered Comte cheese ball. Deep-fried cheese sounds divine, but I actually found these quite bland. Accompanied by an interesting dipping sauce or made with a sharper fromage, I think the Cheese Teumpura could be a huge hit.
  • Grilled Cheese Bites: 1-2 grilled cheese sandwiches were cut in to bite-sized pieces and served in a French onion soup bowl/crock. Each bite consisted of crunchy, buttery griddled bread enveloping a mound of warm, stringy gruyere (I think?) cheese. Truly decadent and divine.
  • Watermelon Salade: Strategically placed around a heap of lightly dressed greens were cubes of watermelon that had been tossed with olive tapenade and crumbled goat’s milk feta. The rebellious combination of flavors was truly explosive: Sweet and crunchy watermelon + creamy and pungent cheese + salty black olives. Had there had been more feta, this salad would have been perfect.
  • Beignets: These looked more like large cinnamon-sugar dusted donut holes than good ol’ fashioned Southern beignets! Generally, I’m not one to complain about anything fried, but I must say that these treats would have fared better with some sort of dipping sauce as an accompaniment (crème anglais, fruit puree, caramel, and chocolate).
  • Almond Croissant: Dry, boring croissant? No ma’am! More like pain perdu (French toast) stuffed with sweet ricotta cheese! Think: Almond croissant cut in half, lightly soaked in milk/cinnamon/sugar/egg batter, griddled, then stuffed with sweet ricotta and plated with berries and peach chutney.
  • Pork Belly Hash: Non-gristly pieces of meaty pork belly (literally sans fat) and cubed sweet potato came piping hot and topped with two perfectly poached eggs. The plate was finished with a drizzle of smoked chili hollandaise sauce.
  • Egg Frites: What could be better than a plate of homemade frites and two sunny-side-up eggs? Not too much; unless the eggs came on-top of the frites! Either way, these two ingredients go together like peas and carrots.
  • Chocolate Mousse: I wasn’t much of a “chocolate dessert fan” until I tasted this guilt-ridden concoction: Milk-chocolate mousse topped with a layer of hazelnut crunch (like a brittle), coffee granite and chocolate foam.

What’s pricing like?

Reasonable, especially when considering the high-quality ingredients:

  • Gougeres: $8
  • Cheese Tempura: $6
  • Grilled Cheese Bites: $6
  • Watermelon Salade: $10
  • Beignets: $8
  • Almond Croissant: $12
  • Pork Belly Hash: $16
  • Egg Frites: $10

Will you return to Bar Artisanal?

 Most definitely! Between the restaurant’s space, concept, affordable pricing, and delicious food, I can’t wait to return to Bar Artisanal.

 

xo,
TLB

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