2 Park Avenue, New York NY 10016; map); 212-725-8585; artisanalbistro.com
Service: Continental (which is to say, good)
Setting: Art deco
Compare to: Balthazar, Cafe Boulud
Cost: Three courses for $24.07
Thank goodness for the Internet: as quickly as it gets us in to trouble, it gets us out of it. Take those fancy flash menus that restaurants like to employ. They look great but they are apparently more difficult to update than regular websites so menus tend to stay up on there long past expiration. That's what happened to me when I visited SD26 today. The menu online promised a $27 "nutritionally balanced one-course meal," but the real world was having none of it. The menu in the restaurant nowhere resembled the one online.
I was left scrambling for an alternative. A Voce was just up the street but I had recently reviewed the uptown location, the same with Tabla. So pulling out my iPhone I resorted to the Internet—which got me into trouble in he first place.
I soon found myself at Artisanal and enjoyed the $24.07 fixed price menu—which exists both in the virtual and real worlds. I wish I had someone else with me and not just because a loaf of bread is deposited on your table. Starters included a mesclun salad and a asparagus vinaigrette—but who could resist a lobster bisque? Especially while the weather is still bearable.
Not I, though I would have traded half the amount of soup (the bowl was rather large) for a morsel or two of lobster. Still, for the price, there was plenty of lobster flavor in the viscous, silky soup.
While I was tempted by both the skate and the English Cheddar and bacon grilled cheese sandwich ($15.50 on the regular menu), ultimately I felt that the chicken paillard would capture the spirit of Artisanal best. Indeed it did: the thin chicken cutlet was moist and tender; the leafy canopy of arugula, dotted with mushrooms, was perhaps a bit oily, but the flavor was spot on.
I finished things off with a glorious slice of Artisanal cheesecake with praline and caramel sauce.
I learned two things at lunch today. First, to always check ahead if you are going to a restaurant specifically for a particular menu item or deal; and secondly that Artisanal offers a generous portion of very decent food for a more than fair sum.
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