15 John Street (off Broadway)
New York, NY 10038
Every so often, a chef transcends the culinary world, and starts to take on another life in a somewhat different direction. Such is the case with Anthony Bourdain, Les Halles is still considered the home base for the chef, however he may not have nearly the role there he once had. Being a fan of "No Reservations" when the opportunity arose that we could stop in and try it out, you know it was full steam ahead.
The exterior was covered with scaffolding from construction. Since we were starving at this point, didn't try to find out why, rather ducking in through the opening and scampering quickly inside. The interiors are oddly what I was expecting. With hexagon mosiacs covering the floor, old wood trim and bar, tin tiles covering the ceiling, and old wrought light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. The bar area is separated from part of the dining area with a wall that has multiple openings. The restaurant has an old city type of feel to it, maybe even best described as a run in between the Old Worlds of Paris and New York City.
Due to the excitement of one of my dining partners, we went with the escargots as an appetizer. Each snail is drowning in a puddle of garlic butter. The garlic butter was so strong, honestly, I could have been eating anything at that point and not even cared. Luckily, I love garlic as much as I do, and was quickly trying to sop up more goodness with the bread at the table.
Sandwich de Poulet
Steak, Frites, Salade
The menu has a range of items, beef being the most dominate amongst the many meat dishes. The Sandwich de Poulet is a roasted chicken, nicely toasted bagette (complete with slight char) and a fresh herb mayo. Filling up the remainder of the plate is a large helping of frites and a mesclun salad. The Steak, Frites, Salade seems to be a favorited dish, and comes as named. The beer menu is pretty decent, with a strong showing of European beers and the wine list is stout.
Planche de Grillades (for one)
Not wanting to miss out on a true full experience, I decided to go all out. When I saw the Planche de Grillades, with it's long list of meats, I couldn't stop myself. When I read thick cut bacon, I sorta assumed it would be a couple of crispy strips of bacon. I was not expecting better than an inch thick of bacon complete with diamond grill marks. The grilling helped carmelize the fat. The lamb chop was cooked to perfection, and I quickly found myself gnawing on the bone, tongue searching for another morsel. The hanger steak was nicely tender with plenty of juiciness. The merguez was something I wasn't sure of at first, but it had plenty of spice and an almost supple texture, overthrowing any apprehension I may have had in the beginning. I'm not sure what the other sausage was, but it didn't matter by now, it went down easy too. The provencal dressing was a delight and only intensified the tastiness, I'm sure it was concocted with oil and some great herbs. The grilled tomatoes helped take a little bit of the guilt away, and the frites were crispy and more than capable of hanging out with this crowd.
Needless to say, this dish did not last long. We did try a few of the desserts, though at this point, our camera was too full. One of the desserts was supposed to be a take on the American Apple Pie, however they must have run out of apples, as this was made with pineapple, even the servers were confused.
Final Verdict: The service was pretty spot on, and had no complaints from us. Apparently, you can order meat through the butcher, adding some additional cool factor to the place. The atmosphere was bustling with activity till it started getting a little late. With everything being so rich and flavorful, the desserts were the weakest point, made even more mystifying by the mistake of the pineapple in the apple pie. If you have the opportunity to stop in, definitely take the time to check it out, highly recommended. Not sure how much influence Anthony still has, this is pretty good.
4 out of 5 Yums