Les Halles New York Reviews
High-end bistro fare in Midtown Mar 19, 2008
French bistro-brasserie Les Halles, once a New York landmark, had somewhat fallen out of favor, due in large part to the recent surge in popularity of Italian cuisine. However, probably because of head chef Anthony Bourdain's hit show on the the Travel Channel, the restaurant has enjoyed renewed renown.
We went early on a Sunday evening. At first it was relatively empty, and I thought our reservations had been unnecessary; however, as the night wore on the place filled up considerably, proving that the bistro hasn't quite lost its prestige just yet.
The cozy brown and gold colors and dimmed lighting made for a really enjoyable and intimate setting, quite evocative of dining establishments in France (despite the fact that the tables are so close to one another I could've joined in on my neighbors' conversations). Also, you can see into the kitchen, something I love in a restaurant. The service was impeccable (perhaps because I was scribbling in my notebook the entire time?). The waiter seemed to appear out of nowhere to refill our wine glasses and fold our napkins into scallops, and all three (4? 5?) of our attendants stopped by regularly to check on us.
Skip the French Onion soup. It's one of my favorite dishes and I always order it, but this was probably the worst I've ever eaten. Equally unimpressive was the pork confit with cornichon... it was fatty, salty, and overpriced.
However, the disappointing appetizers were no indication of the rest of the dishes.
The main courses are hearty and decently sized, with distinct flavors, simple ingredients, and a surprisingly authentic Frenchness. My duck, truffle, and potato hachi was delicious; the hangar steak was perfectly cooked and the accompanying shallot reduction was one of the best sauces I've ever had.
The choco-banana tart was quite tasty, and if you're a chocoholic, you can't do much better than the decadently rich house souffle -- oh, and by the way, both of these desserts were great, but their greatness was heightened by a snifter of vsop cognac...very highly recommended... :)
The wine menu is extensive and exceptional(notably offering a $400 bottle of Bordeaux), and so is the selection of aperitifs, cognacs, and especially eaux-de-vie (rarely seen in American restaurants, but run-of-the-mill in France).
Unfortunately, Les Halles is pretty pricey, starting at about $10 for apps and entrees in excess of $40, and remember, that's not including wine, coffee, dessert, or tip. But the good news here is that at least you get what you pay for, something quite refreshing in a town where a bottle of beer can cost upwards of $10.
High prices and crappy onion soup aside, if you're in the mood for a delicious dinner in an intimate and charming atmosphere, you can't do much better than Les Halles.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!