Artisanal, Dec. 5, 2005

2 Park Avenue (@32nd Street)

Dad and I had lunch at Artisanal today and as usual, the smell of ripe cheese punched us in the face as soon as we walked through the entrance.

The temperature has started to cool with our first taste of snow over the weekend and some projected for this evening. So I pretty much knew what I was going to order for my entree.

I started with the Frisee salad with poached egg, some funky lumps of cheese and really nice lardons. The salad was great. The cheese (why did I forget to ask what it was!) was really strong and so blue it was gray in taste, texture and color. The greens were typical, the poached/3 minute egg was good but perhaps overcooked by about 15 seconds (not a lot of goop) but overall a great way to start.

Dad ordered the sweet potato soup (soup du jour) and finished it but without too much fanfare.

For entrees, I had the cassoulet, which is served differently than when I had this here about 2 years ago and change. The cylinder it comes in is different and is covered with a green dust that I assume is parsley and garlic. And man oh man was there a lot of garlic in this thing. Way too much. My breath and body, after 2 showers and 3 brushings & antiseptic gargling still smelled of garlic. I kid you not...ask my wife who despite currently suffering from a nasty case of the flu including a stuffed head could still smell it after all of that. The lamb, sausage, beans and broth were all tasty but nearly washed out by the essence of garlic. It's a poorer example of what it once was and something, unfortunately, I won't return to have or recommend to anyone.

Dad ordered the Assiette de Charcuterie et Fromages for himself. This included a selection of four cheeses, grapes, figs, saucisson sec, prosciutto di parma, air-dried beef foie gras pate and cornichons. The cheeses included Banon (deliciously creamy - the winner of the four), Ossau Iraty Pardou (pretty good, a bit bland) aged gouda (nicely nutty and full of butterscotch flavor), and Colston Bassett Stilton which was pretty good as well.

I forget the wine we ordered, but it was very nice.

Service was pretty standard but our waiter was a bit of smug jerk.

Otherwise, a pretty good meal but the cassoulet was an overpriced mistake. Don't make the same one I did.

All of this plus four glasses of wine came to about $154.


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