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Brasserie Les Halles


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And since the institution of the smoking ban, LH Downtown is a zillion times better just as an environment in which to eat.

Yes, service is haphazard, bordering on terrible. And most of the food is at best okay. But hey, they have a few good items (how could I forget the tartiflette :shock::wub: and the shrimp cocktail, served head-on :biggrin: ), and I don't always want to schlep across town to Le Zinc late at night.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I got to go to Les Halles back in May when I was visiting the city. We went for a late lunch that Thursday. I was generally pleased with everything, except the service. Apparently it was a shift turnover and our waiter left halfway through the meal, without saying anything to us and it took the new server 15 minutes to come find us. I had the boudin, which was rockin'; first time I'd had it and really liked it (second time I had was badly hungover, so less so then). Served with mashed potatoes and cooked apples. Yum. Oh, and a couple beers. Was a good lunch, and I was so worried I would be disappointed, but I wasn't. The best part was seeing tony walk in at the end of the meal, chit chat with another employee, then leave. Lordy. Yes. The whole reason I came, and I got to admire from afar. Was great.

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Am going to brunch there on Sunday. Any recommendations?

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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I don't really think you can go wrong there, as everything is at the very least, decent. If you've been there a few times, I'd recommend trying something that isn't steak. There are a lot of good specialties on the menu.

That being said, when I go there for brunch, I tend to go for the Boudin Noir. It's really a thing of beauty, it's incredibly savory, the most savory thing I've ever tasted. I've had it several other places, but it's never lived up to the LH version. It's served on a bed on an bed of buttery (very buttery) mashed potatoes with apples. That's my personal fave. Also, if you don't want beer or wine, they have a pretty good dry cider there, which I usually order.

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I have been to the LH downtown and have a fair idea what to expect for the lunch options (confit, tartifliette). Most of the other brunch options (eggs benedict, etc.) don't seem that out of the ordinary, so I suspect I'll order the tartare. Has anyone had it?

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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I've had the tartare at the original (P.A.S.) LH, and it was very good. They used to mix it right there in front of you; don't know if they still do. But that way you can stop them from adding something you don't want (a friend deleted the mustard).

The tartiflette is one of my favorite potato dishes, and I :wub::wub::wub::wub: potatoes.

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I've had the tartare at the original (P.A.S.) LH, and it was very good.  They used to mix it right there in front of you; don't know if they still do.  But that way you can stop them from adding something you don't want (a friend deleted the mustard).

The tartiflette is one of my favorite potato dishes, and I  :wub:  :wub:  :wub:  :wub:  potatoes.

Thanks for the input on the tartare. It says they do it tableside. I have also had the tartiflette, for launch, and agree with the :wub::wub::wub::biggrin:

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Les Halles was packed busy long long before I arrived--it's success having nothing to do with me--or my later publication/television thing. I changed nothing and nothing has been changed as far as the steaks, and most menu items. The meat is dry-aged C.A.B. (Certified Angus--from De Bragga--nuff said--and surprising that anyone would find French rumsteak of superior quality)Hype? I can hardly think of a more hype-free restaurant. Since day one the place has never been prettied up, remodeled or even painted...no celebs hang at the bar--and if models ever come, they're dressed in dirty jeans and no make-up. Most of our customers are regulars and have been coming for years. Yes. It IS a little busier now sometimes. Yes, it's loud, dark, crowded--and always has been. Yes. Brunch is/was a relatively quiet shift.Sorry mogsob has such bad experiences.

The assertion that Po (now no longer a Batali operation) made it on Mario's celebrity is as clueless and wrongheaded. It was Mario's first restaurant. Before the show and the books. The celebrity grew OUT of the restaurant--not the other way around.

abourdain

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Am going to brunch there on Sunday.  Any recommendations?

Yes -- change your reservations. Any other restaurant that had mediocre food, terrible service, and ear-splitting noise would have been run out of town by now. Fortunately, AB is a celebrity non-chef (when was the last time AB was in the kitchen at LH?), so the midwestern followers of Food Network flock to his place. This is exactly like Po, which generated undeserved business due to the MB connection.

There are only two things to recommend LH -- the fries, which are good, and the fact it is pretty cheap (who said sticker-shock -- compared to what, Olive Garden?).

One to avoid.

Yes it was loud and dark, but it's not a linen tablecloth kind of a place. I found the service quite appropriate, the food quite good-particularly the steaks and the frites. Our young friend was in heaven over his duck special, an evidence that they can go beyond the steak and fries. I am hardly a "midwestern tourist". Was I intrigued by the Bourdain connection? Sure. But only because I assumed that because of that connection the food would be good and it would not be a linen tablecloth stuck up joint. Because I thought it might have a touch of whimsy and earthiness about it. Not necessarily because he brought it to it, but because that would probably be what would appeal to him to be associated with.

The prices were quite frankly another appeal and having spent some time in France, I just like the brasserie feel which you get from first sight of the place.

"One to Avoid"- I think not.

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Has been to Les Halles, I even had diner as well... my experience was great, the atmosphere was static, loud and busy. but I like a busy place, because I'm a people watcher. As for the food it was really good, the wife had prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes and I had Steak...It was overall a good experience...oh and I even managed a visit with T.B while I was there...cool.... I always recomend Les halles to anyone heading to NYC...

JTL

Is a Member of PETA..."People Eating Tasty Animals"

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My wife and I ate there for the first time last night, and count us among the fans of the place. We deliberately decided to go off the steak-and-frites track though. For appetizers, we had the frisee (bacon was warm and fresh, mmmmm) and the rilletes and both were excellent (extra goodness from the little pickles with the rilletes). For entrees the Mrs. got the mahi-mahi special (can't get more off the steak and frites track than that), and I wanted to try the pigs feet but was steered away by our server who encouraged me to get a guinea ham special instead which was spectacular - crispy skin, nice layer of fat and melt-in-your-mouth meat.

For dessert we had the cheese platter which was also excellent and because I needed a jolt of caffeine after that meal I had an espresso with the check. Unexpectedly, it was possibly the best darn espresso I ever had - not that I thought it would be bad, but I was surprised at how good it was. Especially with the little brownie-type square.

Drinks-wise, I know next to nothing about wine so I stayed away...but I do know beer and the the Fischer La Belle was pretty good as French beer goes. The beer selection was the only disappointment - I didn't see a big selection of Belgian or Belgian-style ales (a domestic like Ommegang or anything from Canada's Unibroue would've been nice) on the menu, looked like they just had Chimay and that's it (or perhaps I missed them - the service was a bit quick on the drinks, we barely had time to look at the wine/beer list before it was taken away).

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Had brunch for 6 today at LH (PAS) for my wife's birthday and were suitably impressed. When we got there (1pm), it was only about half full, which definitely helped the noise level. Everyone stayed on the brunch menu except me. I opted for the blood sausage, served with mashed potatoes and carmelized apples and ordered a side of fries as well. My mother-in-law (not easy to please) loved it and thought the french onion soup was about the best she had ever had. She ordered the tartiflette for her main course and enjoyed it a lot (not as much as the soup, though.) I split the escargot with her, which was decent. My wife ordered the onion soup and ham and gruyere crepes, which were also good. My father-in-law got the merguez sausage and my niece loved the brioche french toast. As for the blood sausage, it tasted great and was just about the right level of spice and, to me, nothing screams comfort food like blood sausage and mashed potatoes. (A side benefit... they were also selling it at the butcher inside.)

I would recommend it as a brunch place, particularly because it was rather low key (I assume much more so than in the evening.) Aside from a number of traditional brunch menu, you could go off the menu for any of the lunch options, which gave a lot to choose them. Next time I might try the choucroute. (This place may give me a broader definition of brunch.) :wub:

Edited by mikeycook (log)

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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The guys who own Les Halles also own a kosher steakhouse in NYC called Le Marais. The atmosphere sounds alot like Les Halles - butcher when you walk in, noisy, crowded, and good simple food. Awsome frites (except at Passover when they change the oil) and perfectly cooked steaks.

No boudin noir or pig's trotters though.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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  • 7 months later...

A friend and I went to Blue Smoke last night at 8 and found a 30 minute wait. Much too long for mediocre bbq. So we went around the corner to Les Halles.

It was my first time, and the above posts describe it well. It's dark and the tables are close, but even though we were elbow to elbow with the next table I didn't find it uncomfortable. The meat display at the entrance almost made me drool.

Since I'm trying to lose about 30 pounds this week, I skipped the steak frites and ordered the scallops. Given the cream and/or butter in the champagne sauce, I coulda had the steak. The scallops (4) were plump, fresh and delish. The sauce was good, but, I think due to the four dollops of salmon caviar, was too salty. The scallops were arranged around a bed of veggies that I couldn't really identify. They were cut almost like fettucine noodles, thin and crunchy. Coulda been a cabbage thing. Other than the salt the only downside was the topping of thin, frizzled, fried stuff. Again, I couldn't identify it (although I think it should have been obvious, perhaps thin onion stick? But not really. I was just blanking). It wasn't greasy, but it wasn't crisp either. Tasted like stale onion sticks.

My friend had the onglet. The shallot sauce came in a ramekin on the side, which I think is a mistake. Pour it on. The steak was a little thin (not as plump and meaty as the onglet I'd had at Jules the night before) and slightly dry.

The guy at the next table had a hangar steak. It looked thin and dry.

Great fries though.

The bill with one drink and three glasses of wine came to about $90.

Edited by Stone (log)
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For dessert we had the cheese platter which was also excellent and because I needed a jolt of caffeine after that meal I had an espresso with the check. Unexpectedly, it was possibly the best darn espresso I ever had - not that I thought it would be bad, but I was surprised at how good it was. Especially with the little brownie-type square.

LH has never made it onto my list of places to try out in NYC only because I like a quiet spot for dinner and don't feel like schlepping downtown to eat at the other location. I do love brasserie style food but the espresso thing now has me convinced that I have to try it, even with the noise levels. I have never ever had good espresso in a restaurant in NYC or anywhere else (the exception was a small Italian place on Caye Caulker Belize but it's changed hands and a bit off the beaten track, therefore a moot point).

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This past Sunday I was in the neighborhood (of the 28th Street Les Halles) and stopped in for brunch.

Although a small list -- very pleased with the wines by the glass.

Two reds from St. Emilion -- both quite good.

Had the F-O soup followed by the steak sandwich ($16.00).

The soup was solid if a little lacking in actual onions (but I think most people prefer the cheese anyway -- of which there was a copious amount).

Steak sandwich was excellent: well-seasoned, medium rare per spec, caramelized onions, bread wasn't soggy. Served with a pile of excellent frites and a small mesclun salad.

A bargain (not that lunch and brunch aren't generally so at many spots).

The downside -- I'm not going to make too much of this because it was Memorial Day weekend (and my fault for being stuck in the city) but the crowd tended toward the ugly tourist variety (and this is by no means an attack on all tourists -- but these were stereotypes waiting to happen). A loudly crying baby, obnoxious people on either side of our table, let alone the couple for whom this was apparently a romantic occasion -- complete with a bottle of the mediocre and overpriced (even at retail) VC Yellow Label.

I'd certainly stop in again for a quick dinner or maybe risk brunch again on a non-holiday weekend.

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Stone -- that was probably frizzled leeks on top. One of those garnishes I've never understood. :unsure: Especially when I had to make it and use it. :sad:

The onglet can be pretty good if you order it rarer than you think you should. But then, you'd better have good teeth. And you're right about the sauce -- NOT one to keep "on the side."

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...My friend had the onglet.  The shallot sauce came in a ramekin on the side, which I think is a mistake.  Pour it on.  The steak was a little thin (not as plump and meaty as the onglet I'd had at Jules the night before) and slightly dry. 

The guy at the next table had a hangar steak.  It looked thin and dry....

Aren't onglet and hanger steak one and the same piece of meat?

"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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...My friend had the onglet.  The shallot sauce came in a ramekin on the side, which I think is a mistake.  Pour it on.  The steak was a little thin (not as plump and meaty as the onglet I'd had at Jules the night before) and slightly dry. 

The guy at the next table had a hangar steak.  It looked thin and dry....

Aren't onglet and hanger steak one and the same piece of meat?

I thought that as well. Perhaps it was just a confusing evening all around.

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  • 4 months later...

I stopped by Les Halles (Murray Hill version) for brunch on Saturday -- the brunch menu has been revised and is worth noting.

$17.95 brought a quite good petatou de chevre -- just warm enough potato salad and the goat cheese was quite pleasant topping what was essentially a terrine -- to start.

steak frites (about 20 other selections available for the main course) followed.

decent enough profiteroles to close (3 other dessert selections -- chocolate mousse, sorbets, seasonal crepes).

not bad and a bargain.

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I'm not so sure this thread is being watched so closely lately, but as I just ate at the Park Ave LH last night, I'd like to drop my thoughts.

Overall, the food was great. I've now been to both Downtown and Park and am very happy with the experiences. My previously red meat averse better half loved the steak frites and salade and we now routinely order the same. The Onion soup is classic and actually tastes like caramelized onions, broth and good, stinky Gruyere. The best. We ordered an apple tart for dessert which is classic as well, but a hell of a lot better than the version I make at home.

But, I have to say that our waitress left a lot to be desired. We were greeted at the table with "Oh. Did you want to order?" This was after she walked past us with her hair clip in her mouth, turned around quickly to address us, and then finished putting her hair up.

On a positive note, she ignored us for the rest of the night. So we didn't really have to deal with her till the check. (Which was reflected in the tip.)

I love the food and will keep going back. But perhaps I'll stay downtown.

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  • 1 month later...

Jason and I were invited (along with 35 or so other food media moguls) to a "Christmas in Bordeaux" party at Les Halles, which occurred last night. Yes, Tony was there, but for once he wasn't the focus of the evening (OK, just a little). It was a lovely evening, starting with white and red Bordeaux wines and raw oysters minionette. I hadn't tried raw oysters in a couple of years, and I always try the things I don't like every few years (just in case my palate changes) -- and, as someone pointed out, "if you're going to try them, this would be a good place to" -- so I did. They were amazing. Small and sweet, not fishy at all. I think I mostly enjoyed them because they were small -- not as much squishy texture, which is what I mostly don't care for about raw oysters.

After a while, we were encouraged to find our seats (the very long table had actual place cards), and Philippe Lajaunie explained to the company how the menu reflects the Christmas dinners of his youth. The table was decorated simply, yet beautifully, with candelabras, red tree ornaments, and nuts in their shells were strewn across the center; the menu for the evening tied with a bow at each place setting.

The starter was Crispy Oysters with Truffle and Caviar. These were very flavorful, the caviar nicely accenting the fried oysters and lemony sauce, although the breading was a little heavy to my taste. This was followed by a salad of Porcini mushrooms, mache, fried ham, candied walnuts, and herbs. It was dressed simply with a little walnut oil and each ingredient stood on its own and in interesting combinations.

The main course was Goose Two Ways, roasted and confit, with braised swiss chard. The roasted breast was served medium rare, and seemed very much like steak to me. The confit of goose leg was tender as if it were braised. The swiss chard was richly studded with bits of bacon. The coup de grace was the sauce of reduced stock and wine, so rich, it practically made Jason swoon. :laugh:

Finally, the meal was completed with a slice of Buche de Noel. The chestnut filling was rolled into a very moist cake (practically wet with syrup), set on a puddle of creamy sauce and a slash of dark chocolate. I was quote pleasantly surprised by the buche, it was way better than any jellyroll cake I'd ever experienced. We had thoughts of cutting out early after the goose, I'm glad we waited.

The courses were each accompanied by various Bordeaux wines, which frankly, I'm not qualified to comment on. I remember the one with the fried oysters went very well, but the red with the goose, was just too tannic for me.

So, by now I've made you all jealous, right? Why am I telling you all about this private party if you can't get the goods too? Well you can, that's why. Brasserie Les Halles is offering the Noel 2004 a Bordeaux menu as a prix fixe or a la carte from December 19-26 at both NYC locations. There are alternate courses to the oyster appetizer (sweetbreads, I would have liked to try that) and goose (roasted sturgeon). In addition, the Buche de Noel is available to purchase whole ($50) and would make an impressive dessert to bring to any upcoming Holiday party.

We're hoping to get some pictures via email from some of the other attendees (we didn't bring the camera) and permission to post to goose recipe (which was included in the press kit). Meanwhile, here's their website if you'd like to make reservations.

Joyeux Noel, mes chèrs!

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