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Manhattan

Les Halles Downtown

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Les Halles Downtown

Abrocadabro | Jan 8, 2002 01:03 PM

Just back from lunch at the new Les Halles Downtown (so new, in fact, that the "Le Marais 2" sign above the restaurant is still up).

I always meant to eat at Le Marais 2 but never got around to it. But I am a huge fan of the original Les Halles (pre-Kitchen Confidential).

The space is smallish. I didn't count the tables, but the room can't be much bigger than a brownstone living room/dining room combination.

I arrived at about 12:20. There were only a couple of 2-person tables open so I sat at the bar. Speedy service, even though the bar (and the restaurant) was filled within 15 minutes. I had the onglet frites, which comes with shallot sauce and the usual mesclun salad, for $14.50 and a glass of an excellent Graves red for $8.25.

The salad was non-descript, the frites were on a par with the original (i.e. excellent) but I was a little disappointed with the onglet. All in all it was fine, but I have high standards for anything associated with Les Halles. I asked for it medium and they served it medium rare and it continued cooking until it essentially stopped at medium (nice job). But I don't think it measured up to the steak at the original in flavor. The piece of meat was about the size of a smallish adult hand, so $14.50 seemed a little pricey (note: same price for the regular steak frites salade). The flavor of the meat/grill was not as pronounced as I would prefer. The shallot sauce contrasted nicely with the steak itself however and they worked well together. By the end, I was dunking my frites into the sauce.

I was out of there in less than an hour, so they seemed to do a good job catering to the lunch hour. Most of the tables had not turned over while I was there though, so I suggest reservations if you would prefer not to eat at the bar.

The menu was broad, with some selections I haven't seen at the original, including several moules frites options and a hamburger frites. They also have some lunch sandwiches, but those come with chips instead of frites. A bunch of people near me were ordering the charcouterie plate and seemed to enjoy it.

Extensive wine list, some good "by-the-glass" choices but only so-so beer list (and no hard cider that I could see -- sacre bleu!)

I'll be back to try more, but perhaps with someone else paying.

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