Posted 17 June 2002 - 05:39 AM
The original idea for Les Halles was to be a joint--modeled on the bistros described in Zola's THE BELLY OF PARIS--workingmans' places where meat cutters and market workers of Les Halles meat pavillion could drop by after work in their bloody aprons. The original menu was to be basically steak frites and tartare. And steak frites is far and away the best seller--the sheer volume of those sales allowing us to run a number of 50% food cost items like the terrine of foie gras (which is not on the menu but always available on request), cote de boeuf and "first of season" specials like softshells and white asparagus and truffle and cavaillon before the wholesale prices drop. You'll notice that the walls and ceilings at Les Halles have NEVER been painted (quite deliberately), that the furniture is butt-ugly--and that it looks like a hundred or more places in Paris. The French and Portugese owner--who spent a lot of time thinking about this--have neglected the decor in a very calculated way. A new faux-brasserie in NY was seen taking photos of our genuinely nicotine stained ceiling--so that they could reproduce the shade with India ink and tea in their own bogus boite. The menu at LH expanded away from bistro/boucherie to brasserie over time--with generations of French chefs and sous chefs..and you will notice that we NEVER..EVER close..that there is continued service from 12-12 every single day of every year. The whole choucroute/ Alsatian brasserie thing has been built up over time--and the joint employs a number of full-time butchers and an old-school French charcutier.