I'll start with the most marvelous (and important) part of Artisanal Bistro, the food. We started with the fish soup, which I was hoping and dreaming would recall a similar dish I used to love in a tiny French restaurant in Providence that no longer exists. It did and I was exuberant. It was rich and fishy with a side of cheese to mix in and hard bits of French bread to soak up the broth. Absolutely delicious.
While awaiting our artisanal blend fondue, I enjoyed a flute of three sparkling pink wines – a Valentine's Day special that looked lovely on the table in their gradient blushing shades. Of course the fondue was superb, a creamy smooth blend – quite possibly the best rendition of the dish I've ever had.
Jim's cold medicine began to fade in time for dessert, so no first-hand word on that, though friends swear it's all delectable.
As for the atmosphere, it was a crowded bustling Valentines night. In fact, it was the most packed restaurant I have ever been to in my life. Even Mario Batali was there with his family. The staff was gracious though a bit harried and the service was a bit slow, but totally understandable given the crowds of people. The setting is very “bistro” with attractive lighting and French looking signage. All on the up and up… except for the clientele.
That's where my only complaint comes in; and it's quite sad that a restaurant with such good food and d?cor can be marred by the assholes that eat there. One woman stared at us as we were seated as if Sid and Nancy had just snarled in. One look at Jim and she expressed, loudly “Too much hair!” Are we suddenly anti-establishment? It seems so, at least above 14th Street. On our way out a younger richie exclaimed “fucking grizzly adams”, but to be fair, it was the kind of comment that made sense coming out of his date rape face.
Sorry, I rarely use this forum to bad mouth anything. I like to recommend thing people will like. And you will really, really like the food here. Just beware the fangs of the wealthy and the tactless.