Disclaimer: I enjoy great food but not sure I would call myself a foodie... but here's my take on last night's dinner...
So my friend (whom I hadn't seen in about 15 years) and I met last night for an 8:30 pm dinner @ L'Artusi. We had tons to talk about of course but the noise level was insane both downstairs and upstairs!!! We were originally seated downstairs but the noise level was so bad that we were practically shouting at each other to converse (even our waiter admitted that the noise level was pretty high and apologized). We're both petite so there was a limit to how far we could lean across the table to talk with each other... :D
I'm usually not picky about seating, but I asked the hostess whether we could move to a quieter area or a corner table since my friend and I literally could barely hear each other. They were really nice about the table change and quite understanding. Our table upstairs was a tad bit better but we could still hear other people's conversation since the table's were so close together and still had to talk quite loudly to be able to hear each other. Bottom line: the way the tables are closely-packed and the acoustics just suck at L'Artusi...
My vodka tonic was big but bitter tasting for some reason... haha! didn't stop me from finishing it though. The wine list is extensive - it's a friggin' binder full of pages of wines by region. I believe they have a single page of it posted up on their website if you want to take a peek...
L'Artusi is basically a wine bar with small plates which my friend and I didn't realize. The waiter recommended us to order 2 dishes each (i.e., 4 dishes total) and said the kitchen need us to order everything at the same time. Since this was our first time, we weren't sure how much food to order since everyone's eyes/appetites are different...The portions were actually larger than other small plates I've had (and larger than what the waiter suggested) so we didn't finish everything! We had the following dishes:
1. crudo scallops (sea salt, olive oil, lemon, espelette) - my friend found the lemon to be overpowering on some slices but I was actually grateful since the scallops didn't really taste that fresh to me (i.e., majorly fishy aftertaste!);
2. crudo hamachi (fennel, lemon) - very delish! fresh and the pureed fennel and touch of lemon complimented the fish very nicely
3. orechiette w/ lamb sausage & swiss chard - good sized portion (according to the waiter it's a 10 oz. size portion), flavorful, lightly tossed in some tomato-based sauce, yummy sausages!; and
4. hanger steak w/ crispy potatoes & salsa bianco - i like my meat cooked rare. the steak came in medallions: crusty charred on the outside and chewy/stringy rare on the inside. I actually wished they'd brought me a steak knife because I found the very meat difficult to cut even though it was rare per my order...; my friend's and my favorite part of this dish were the potatos w/ salsa bianco (basically a lighter, airier and flavorful version of the traditional sour cream w/ onions).
Out of the dishes we ordered, I enjoyed the hamachi, the pasta and the potatos. We didn't order dessert or coffee because by then we were tired of the place and frankly underwhelmed...
The hostess and both waiters we had (downstairs and upstairs) were all quite nice and accomodating. Our actual waiter seemed knowledgeable about the dishes and which ones were flavorful (alas! I couldn't hear everything he said and didn't order what he'd recommended)...
We found the bottle of wine my friend was looking for only to be told that it wasn't chilled yet so they'd serve it to us with dinner. The waiter, after going back to double check since my friend didn't really have/find anything to drink, managed to find a single bottle that was in fact chilled to my friend's happiness (she doesn't drink cocktails or beer).
Would we go back there? My friend and I decided probably not given the hassle of choosing the wine/dishes, the noise level and the food quality...
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