This was the second time I’ve dined at Artisanal and the two experiences were similar despite the differences in the reason for dining. Overall, Artisanal is a restaurant known for its cheese (and the cheese is truly excellent) but its non-cheese food can be inconsistent. The restaurant is brasserie style - loud and casual, and the menu reflects this theme well.
The diners on a Sunday night were generally a younger middle-aged crowd. The impression of the restaurant I left with was bright and pleasant. It’s also a New York City restaurant that can be great for kids and families.
The food on this visit was a fixed menu as part of the Artisanal Master Cheese Program. There were about fifteen of us dining and the gougeres, fondues and cheese board were served family style. Wines were paired with each course.
Note: The lighting was dim so some of the photos are less than stellar, and by dessert it was impossible to take any photos.
Basket of Gougeres
Good hot. As they should be.
Two Fondues: Stilton and Sauternes
Almost green in color. Great flavor. Fantastic with the green apple.
Artisanal Blend Fondue of Hoch Ybrig, Beaufort and Emmenthal
Nice blend. I preferred this one.
Fondue is fun but when it gets overheated it’s really hard to eat and it slides off the vegetables/bread (this was the case tonight). The fondue accompaniments were cauliflower, broccoli, red and yellow bell pepper, gherkins, assorted bread cubes, apple chunks (awesome with the Stilton) and baby carrots.
Parmesan Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms and Summer Vegetables
Good but a bit on the salty side. The Gnocchi were a somewhat tough.
2005 Château PourcieuxCôtes du Provence
Shale on the nose. Light shaley and minerally center. Clean acidic finish with a hint of strawberry sweetness.
Chicken cooked under a brick, with corn, arugula and chanterelles
The sauce and vegetables were too salty for my taste ruining the otherwise perfect chanterelles. The chicken skin was crispy and the meat was tender albeit not quite as flavorful as I would have wished.
2004 Domaine des Lises (Maxim Graillot) Crozes-Hermitage
Tobacco, black currant and red flowers on the nose. Tight center. Clean finish. Not a complex wine but drinkable now.
The caramelized sugar on top was nearing black, not the nice shade of brown that you want to see. (The others at the table were varying colors - one I saw was browned). In retrospect, I should have sent it back to the kitchen. The orange flavoring was a bit overwhelming and between the burned and orange – just not a great dish. The cinnamon biscuits which accompanied were thin and good. I should have ordered their cheesecake, but the thought of yet more cheese today was a bit daunting!
Artisanal Cheese Board
The cheese presentation was beautiful, served on olive wood boards with membrillo, fig cake, salumi, air dried beef, green grapes, asian pear, granny smith apple, and walnuts.
Robiola duo latte - Italy (sheep/cow) Montenebro - Spain (Chalky with an acidic tang) Ossau Iraty - France (buttery and semi-firm, nutty flavor) Aged Gouda - Holland Epoisses - France (Burgundy, from Berthaudt aged an additional 3 weeks and washed with marc de bourgogne during that time) Colston Bassett Stilton - England (salty finish)
This cheese board is where the meal shined. The cheeses were perfect.
You may notice that we do not give out a lot of praise. Having been to so many high-quality restaurants, it's pretty tough to impress us.
Most of our reviews are based on just one visit. We neither have the time nor the money (or often, the inclination) to visit most restaurants multiple times. So, please keep in mind that a single-visit review is a snapshot - the restaurant may be "on it" that day - or not. If the meal has a calamity involved (foreign objects in the food, wine poured on us, etc.) we try not to let it shade the overall review.
We pay for the food and beverages; restaurants never comp us. We try to be discreet about taking photos so that the staff doesn't notice/get an idea we're going to do a review. We rarely take notes in the restaurant.
Like the rest of our website, we update our restaurant review pages based upon subsequent visits.