My SO and I tried Artisanal for the first time last night and had a great experience. I arrived 2 minutes late, and my SO had already gotten a seat at the bar. They seated us immediately however. We were very tempted by the regular menu, but decided to come back for fondue, since restaurant week doesn't come along every day.
The restaurant week menu was good, but lacking in some of the cheese dishes I was looking forward to. The menu, aside from the cheese menu, was a little less cheesy than I anticipated in general. For starters, we had a choice between soup (an interesting concoction of chickpeas and harissa), salad, or a boudin blanc autumn salad. We ordered a basket of gougeres off the regular menu, my SO had the salad, and I had the boudin blanc. The gougeres were good, if a little too crunchy. The salad was organic mesclun yada yada. The boudin blanc was awesome, if incredibly rich. The sausage was homemade and falling apart, with bits of bacon and pistachio nuts in it. It contrasted nicely with the accompanying salad of watercress, celery root and apples in a mustardy vinaigrette. Definitely would have this dish again, though maybe alone for lunch. It was that rich.
For the main course, we had a choice between mac and cheese (I was tempted), skate wing with blood orange grenobloise, and mussels. SO had the skate wing, which was delicious. Crispy, tender, and very flavorful with the orange sauce and cauliflower puree. The outside was crisp, and the rest was not overcooked. Best skate I've had (I'm normally not a huge skate fan.) The mussels were wonderful -- kind of mariniere, with a LOT of extra butter (I had to roll home) and some tomatoes. They were just slightly undercooked, giving them a bit of that slippery ocean taste of raw oysters. I'm usually hesitant to order mussels in a restaurant, because they are so cheap and easy to do at home, but these were well worth it. To drink I had an excellent glass of Brouilly for a reasonable price of $7. They have a great wine list, with the largest selection of wines by the glass I have seen.
Dessert, my SO and I shared cheese ($6 extra) and the pumpkin waffle (also had a choice of maple pot de creme). We didn't get to pick the cheese, but I thought they offered a good selection. A very mild Spanish goat, a French cow's milk that tasted a lot like Reblochon, and a NY state blue. I love strong cheeses and thought they were all wonderful (Though the blue wasn't as subtle as the blues I like best, that's really a matter of taste). My SO is still learning, and thought the French and NY cheeses were a little strong. I'm working on him. He doesn't have the benefit of parents who are raving Francophiles. The pumpkin waffle was one of my favorite types of desserts, very flavorful (Though the waffle was a bit tough) and served with an excellent winter fruit compote (quinces and currants,echoes of mincemeat, which I LOVE) and some lovely creme fraiche.
In short, (is that still possible to say?) a good restaurant week dinner (I didn't feel consigned to the bargain bin) and I will definitely be going back to Artisanal.
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