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Artisanal


LaurieA-B
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Dined there a few months ago, had an excellent meal and pleasant service.  The cheese sommelier (is that the correct term?) was especially helpful in assisting us with our cheese selections.

I was there once, with one other, and the cheese sommelier was wonderful. The last time I was there she was terrible. After getting our cheese plate, we wondered if she heard our request at all.

I've always had great help behind the counter, though.

Our cheese sommelier was a guy... maybe it matters who's on duty....?

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  • 7 months later...

Two of us (there were only two) had a very nice dinner at Artisinal last night.

We arrived at 7:30 on Friday. The place was busy, but there is sufficient space between tables. Still, a little noisy with 150+ diners, but we could here each other.

Our tabler was along a wall, there was one very comfortable seat and I took the not well padded chair.

We each had a glass of wine, she a Bordeaux that was a little heavy, while I had a nice Riesling Kabinett.

I started with a bowl of 3 cheese onion soup. I like onion soup, and this was good, but not a knock ones socks offer.

Then she had the Dover Sole while I had a hamachi tuna special. Both dishes very tasty, though these was a bone left on the sole.

So far, this was a nice French dinner. Then we had some cheese. We split one of their cheese "flights" which is 3 selections by common theme and I had the accompanying wines. We chose the "Sinful Pleasures" which had a Robiola 2 Latti, Brillat Savarin - a triple creme brie, and one other whose name escapes me now.

The wines were a champage and another mind slipper.

Obviously to me, I knew very littlea about cheese going in. Because these cheeses were delicious and better than any cheese experience I've ever had before. The Brillat Savarin was sooo smooooth it was truly sinful. :wub:

I shall return and next time skip all other food and start directly with cheese. Then I will continue with cheese, before finishing up with more cheese.

Nummy! Reasonably good service from the waiter and a personal explanation of the cheese service by one of the "cheese people" (fromageries?). All of a sudden it was 11pm. Didn't notice my less than comfy chair.

The address is 2 Park Avenue, but the entrance is around the corner on 32nd.

Why do most of us eat such crap ordinary cheese when stuff like this exists?

--mark

Everybody has Problems, but Chemists have Solutions.

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I had dinner on Friday night at Artisanal with my mother, who's visiting from out of town. She has traveled in France extensively, and even lived there for a year. She said Artisanal immediately transported her to a brasserie in Paris. The Adam Tihany-designed interior conjures up the original brilliantly. The tile floor and other exposed hard surfaces makes it a bit noisy, but we had no trouble hearing our own conversation.

Artisanal is chef Terrance Brennan's ode to cheese. I understand he has his own factory in Manhattan, where many of the chesses are manufactured. The distinct odor of eau du fromage permeates the whole restaurant. One lucky table gets to sit in "The Cave," where many of the cheeses are stored. We weren't that lucky, but cheese is everywhere. There's even a retail counter, where you can buy a hunk of your favorite cheese to take home.

Your server greets you with a bewildering array of menus. There's the dinner menu, with wines on the reverse side; a separate premium wine menu; a cheese menu that lists themed servings, optionally paired with wines; and a cocktail menu. Later on, there's a dessert menu and a new cheese menu with the cheeses listed individually.

The main dinner menu, however, is packed onto just one page. Starters run $7.50 to $21.50, mains $17.50 to $29.50. Fondue is either $24 (petite, serves 1-3) or $40 (grande, serves 4-6). A $30.04 prix fixe is available every night, though it's worth noting that if you add a flight of cheese, a party of two is still going to have trouble getting out for under $100.

I ordered Bleu Cheese and Walnut Crisp to start, served with asian pear, watercress, and warm bacon vinaigrette. It looked like a green salad, but the flavor of Brennan's astonishing bleu cheese put all others to shame. I'm no cheese expert, but I've never experienced anything of this quality.

I then had a lamb porterhouse, a cut that neither of us had ever heard of. It was a bit smaller than the typical New York Strip steak, but for lamb it was an enormous piece of meat, very tender and cooked perfectly to the medium rare I had ordered. (The lady at the next table asked for medium, but she also got medium rare, and was dissatisfied; after she sent it back, it returned well done.) The lamb was served on a bed of stewed rice, tomatoes and olives that was a perfect compliment to the meal.

You can't visit Artisanal without sampling the cheeses, so we ordered a plate of three. What do you call the guy who comes over and takes your cheese order? Is he the fromagier? Anyhow, he looked like he was about 16. We asked for two goat cheeses and an "exotic" bleu cheese. As at Picholine, you get back your own copy of the cheese menu, with your choices circled. One of those he gave us wasn't even on the printed menu, and it was probably the best of all.

At the end of the meal, our waiter looked at my plate, and said, "You did good!" I'm glad to know he approved. We certainly did!

Edited by oakapple (log)
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I love Artisanal. I wouldn't have expected it, but they have fine oysters too.

Who writes their cheese descriptions? I love the ones labeled "explosive," "pungent," and "barnyard aroma." I'm not sure if "barnyard aroma" is a selling point for any food item, but I enjoyed my five-cheese plate the last time I visited, about 2 months ago.

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Are they open for lunch? Weekends? Do they have a website? I can only find the Artisanal online store on the web. Me and the Mrs. are big fans of artisanal cheese and were hoping that when we're in NY this weekend we could stop by for lunch on Saturday. Reservations necessary?

Thanks!

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Are they open for lunch? Weekends? Do they have a website? I can only find the Artisanal online store on the web. Me and the Mrs. are big fans of artisanal cheese and were hoping that when we're in NY this weekend we could stop by for lunch on Saturday. Reservations necessary?

Thanks!

Here is The restaurant's number: (212) 725-8585.

Located on 32nd Street, just west of Park Avenue.

--mark

Everybody has Problems, but Chemists have Solutions.

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  • 1 month later...

I paid my second visit to Artisanal last night. My friend and I had a 7:00pm reservation. Most tables were still empty at this time (this being an early reservation), but they were certainly full by the time we left.

We had the fondue. The menu lists five fondues, but they also had two specials. We chose the "100 cheese" fondue, which was excellent. Artisanal's fondues come with a bowl of bread squares for dipping, but you can also order side dishes ("Les Baigneuses"), at $6.50 apiece. We chose the beef tips and the air-dried beef. The latter item could be much more enticingly described. It was thinly-sliced dried beef, something like cured ham, and extremely tasty. The beef tips were lightly cooked, very rare, juicy sirloin.

We also asked for a side order of the Gougeres, which are available in small or large portions ($7.50 or $10.50). These are hopelessly addictive, so I recommend ordering the small size unless you want to ruin your dinner.

The fondue comes in two sizes (petite and grande), serving 1-3 or 4-6 persons respectively. For two people, it's quite filling enough to be a meal, so we just ordered a cheese plate for dessert. Artisanal offers numerous composed thematic cheese plates, but you can also choose your own. We chose four cheeses ($18), with the able assistance of the fromagier. For the record, they were:

  • Robila Due Latte, Italy ("Yielding, Lactic, Subtle")
  • Manchego, Spain ("Briny, Nutty, Sturdy")
  • Ubriaco del Piave, Italy ("Crumbly, Hints of Pineapple & Wine")
  • Keen's Cheddar, England ("Creamy, Earthy, Meaty Finish")

These were wonderful choices. The Robila Due Latte and the Ubriaco del Piave were my favorites. The Manchego and the Keen's Cheddar were wonderful, but not (for me) sufficiently differentiated from the others. But then, where a choice is offered, I usually ask for the most ridiculously exotic choices available. My friend was in a bit more conservative mood.

Many of the posts here have reported service issues at Artisanal. I didn't have that reaction on my first visit, but this time was another story. It took two hours to get through all of the above, mainly because we were left waiting for such ridiculously long times. When I sat down, my server asked if I'd like a drink. I asked for tap water, while I perused the wine list. The tap water came instantly, but twenty minutes later the server hadn't returned to take my drink order.

It seemed like 15 minutes after we were done with the fondue before our server came by to ask about dessert; another 15 minutes before the fromagier came over; another 15 minutes before the cheese actually arrived. I didn't actually time these things, but two hours had gone by before we knew it.

On the other hand, once you did order something, it usually came quickly (other than the cheese). Dirty plates were cleared promptly, and they were attentive about refilling our water glasses. But if you needed your server, you were in for a very long wait. We were in no hurry, so it didn't really bother us that much. I wouldn't recommend Artisanal for a pre-theater dinner!

Another friend recently visited Artisanal and had a similar experience with poor service. She, too, was sufficiently wowed by the food, and says she will quite happily return, as will I. Just don't go there when you're in a hurry.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Will throw in my hat regarding the poor service at this restaurant.

A recent dinner there proved to have good, not great food(with the exception of the fondue) Our waiter spilled soup on one guest. When one of the cheeses on the cheese course was not available, a substitution was made without asking, and the cheeses were never explained to us., and were served without bread or fruit. My entree was not served as described by the waiter, we had to wait over 20 minutes for a bill at the end. Probalby would not return as a dining patron, but would order cheese from the cave.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, I'm a bit late to this discussion but figured I'd report in anyway. Went to Artisanal for the first time on Sunday for brunch and had the opposite situation with regard to service. Everything came too fast. We hadn't even had a chance to take a sip of our drinks when the first course appeared. My friend had barely finished her's and I was only halfway through when the main course appeared. Felt rather rushed and it wasn't as if the place was busy. At most it was half full. Maybe they just didn't have anything to do. The food was good, but I would have appreciated a bit more time to linger over it.

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  • 7 months later...

Hi

I wanted some feedback on Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro. I have been told by one friend it is a must, and she normally is correct and we both share a huge passion for cheese. However, I have also heard that it really is no big deal and the service is awful, waiters with attitudes, etc.

Is it worth a visit? Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks is advance

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If all you want is good cheese, just go to Murray's or any other favorite cheese shop of yours and spend what you would expect to blow at Artisanal for better/more cheese. (Especially now that the weather is nice, you can take things to a park for a picnic) Having worked in a gourmet cheese shop I just don't have the patience to deal with wait staff and general pretension of the place. Just give me the cheeses and a knife, you don't even need to unwrap them or put them on a nice plate/board.

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Hi all

This is my first post as a new member, but I have been reading your comments and threads for a while now. I am so excited to be able to share with you all.

I chose this topic for my first post because I think Artisanal is a lot of fun and there are a lot of good reasons to go there... but there are also some pitfalls...

First, the pitfalls. I would really advise anyone going there not to "over order" because the portions on the appetizers and salads are large, as are the mains. When I first ate there, I tried and app and a main, and when the time came for the cheese course, I was stuffed to the gills. I would choose one course and then cheese, but be sure to try the gourgeres for the table. They are light enough not to make much difference.

The other pitfall is the service, which is rushed, cramped, and relatively indifferent. I have never had service here that has made me 100% satisfied (and, having waited tables all through my early 20's, I am a sympathetic customer who understands that things happen).

That said, I really like the place. The food is good bistro fare, nothing risky or shocking. The Coltrane or Miles Davis playing on the PA always livens things up for me, its nice music for a bustling, urban setting. Sometimes you want to feel like you're eating in the big city, and this place does the trick. (Also, I have never been to Paris, so I like to fantasize a little. A boy can dream, no?) I LOVE that all the wines come by the glass so I can try something for a first glass, something with my main course, and something else for the cheese. And I love their cheese selection. Use the fromaggier... he was really helpful for me. I told them I wanted a big bold blue, something potted and stinky, and something grassy and firm, and I got all three.

My two cents. If you do make it, enjoy. Nothing out of this world, but if you like an informal, bustling scene and want to share lots of cheese with friends, I think its a great pick.

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I'm a big fan of Artisanal, but yeah, the service isn't exactly five-star. I recommend going in for lunch, preferably on the late end of the rush. It'll be a lot more relaxed, and it's not like they ever run out of the best cheese....

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I'd recommend going. The service definitely has declined from a year ago, but it's still better than many other places. Don't go for brunch, it gets overcrowded. Best bet is to go early or late in the evening for wine and cheese, and go somewhere else for dinner, as entrees are fair to middling. But oh, the cheese menu!!!

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I've been a few times -- my office used to be around the corner on Park Avenue --and have always enjoyed it, though I agree with previous points about the service.

If you go, make sure to get one of the fondues.

"All humans are out of their f*cking minds -- every single one of them."

-- Albert Ellis

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I'm a big fan of Artisanal, but yeah, the service isn't exactly five-star. I recommend going in for lunch, preferably on the late end of the rush. It'll be a lot more relaxed, and it's not like they ever run out of the best cheese....

Belated welcome, buddy :biggrin:

Neal's right. Late lunch is the best time to go.

I must have been lucky with the service. Once I stopped in for a late lunch of cheese plates with wine pairings at the bar. As we perused the menu I mentioned that I didn't see my favorite Irish cheeses. The bartender overheard me, brought over a comment card, and asked me to write down the ones I liked. He walked off and came back with nice wedges of 2 of the 3 I had named (Gubbeen and Durrus, for the record).

Sometimes When You Are Right, You Can Still Be Wrong. ~De La Vega

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I think the Irish cheeses just pushed me over. I really miss a lot of the cheeses from home, epecially the ones you mentioned and a good cashel blue. There are not too many places that sell a good variey of cheese here (Puerto Rico) and you will certainly not find an Irish one amongst them.

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I think the Irish cheeses just pushed me over.  I really miss a lot of the cheeses from home, epecially the ones you mentioned and a good cashel blue.  There are not too many places that sell a good variey of cheese here (Puerto Rico) and you will certainly not find an Irish one amongst them.

Are you from Ireland, Jenny? I used to live sort of between Gubbeen and Durrus down in West Cork. Murray's has stopped carrying both of them because apparently the small production means they can't get consistent supply. I did score some Smoked Gubeen and a dote of Milleens around Paddy's Day though. The Milleens was perfectly aged and the best cheese I've had this year.

If you are going to Artisanal, why don't you call them in advance and let them know what you're looking for? Based on my experience, they'll try to accomodate you. And if they do have Milleens, please let me know and I'll be on the 6 train uptown in a flash.

Sometimes When You Are Right, You Can Still Be Wrong. ~De La Vega

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Yes, I'm from Donegal, then we moved to Derry. I'll definately let you know if they have the Mileens. Anything that gives me a flash of home is great. Puerto Rico carries very few food products of any kind from IReland, so I love to go to New York and stock up on the old favourites. Carrying them all the way from Irelnad is too miuch.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for telling me about the place. I'd heard of it but never realized it was right in my neighborbood.

Service issues aside, it definitely looks like a place to drop by for cheese and some drinks.

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  • 6 months later...

wow, it must be parsnip season again. the other food from last night's dinner was good, if nothing to write home about, but the soup du jour - a parsnip concoction with prosciutto sprinkles - was fabulous enough that i had to wrestle the bowl away from my girlfriend who was threatening to lick it clean.

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