Last night, I went to Artisanal, a French cheese restaurant.
Really nice inside, very classy, red walls, full of people and chatter. I went because I wanted fondue and I heard that in New York, Artisanal was the place to go. It was a really nice evening- we got wine at the bar while we were waiting. I got an Italian Chianti -Sangiovese, and my friend got a Bordeaux- I can’t remember the specific name. Once we were seated, the very nice waiter brought us some bread with this really yummy, soft butter- it tasted like it was very subtly infused with garlic- though that might have been the wine affecting my tastebuds.
We ordered a basket of the Gougeres- I didn’t know what they were, but on all the reviews I read, I heard they were famous and amazing. It turns out that they are mini cheese puffs, and they were tasty, but I didn’t think they were amazing.
Then we ordered the Classic Swiss version of the fondue- they also have other options, like the Artisanal Blend fondue, which the waiter explained as being their “mildest” and “most popular” version. But I wanted Swiss fondue so we got that. While it was definitely good, there were some problems:
1. The bread wasn’t hard/stale/crusty enough, as it should be for fondue. The bread should be a little dried it so it can absorb the cheese better- so the cheese really has a chance to soak through the bread. This bread, while fresh and delicious, just wasn’t the right bread for fondue. It was too chewy and soft to really absorb the cheese as it should have.
2. There just wasn’t that much fondue in the pot- for the price that we paid. Fondue for two is $23. At the Melting Pot (a chain, I know) fondue for two is $14, and I just think it’s better. The temperature is hotter, the consistency is slightly thicker (this fondue wasn’t watery by any means, but I thought it needed to be just slightly thicker), there’s more of it, and it’s tastier. I don’t know- maybe I am a knucklehead for thinking that the Melting Pot’s fondue is better than Artisanal’s… since Artisanal is a French bistro and all… but I just remember it as being more satisfying. I’ll check again in April, when we go down to Baltimore, because I think we’re planning a Melting Pot dinner at some point.
Then I ordered the Pumpkin Risotto with Wild Mushrooms and Truffle Essence and my friend ordered the Prime Hanger Steak Filet.
The Pumpkin Risotto was rich and pretty good. Very creamy, I could taste cheese and little bursts of sweetness in the small orange pieces of pumpkin. The wild mushrooms were amaaaazing- so flavorful, like juicy bits of earth! And the truffle essence was good, too. Overall, the combination of everything was enjoyable, but rich.
The steak was reported as good, but maybe a little too cooked- instead of medium well, my friend wishes he just ordered medium. He didn’t like the salad- he said it tasted too strong? Bitter? and he gobbled up all the fries.
We had no room for dessert! Though, if we did, I would have ordered the salted caramel ice cream… because salt and sweet sounds lickable for sure.