Funnily enough, the week after Anthony Bourdain made an appearance at Google with his No Reservations’ production crew, my aunt booked us a table at his longstanding Manhattan French bistro, Brasserie Les Halles. For all of the tongue and animal guts he enjoys on his well-known travel series, I was totally surprised by the simple French offerings at his “home base” (as the website states). Considering the restaurant is described as an extension of the bustling Les Halles district in Paris, though, the menu is typically simple and Parisian, just as it should be.
The restaurant is large, with dark oak detail and wooden chairs and tables. There’s nothing modern or fancy about the vibe, so it’s a perfect spot for a good meal without pretention. I was impressed immediately when a basket of both french and multigrain bread was served upon being seated. Not only did it arrive quickly, but it came alongside a thick circular pat of ice cold, creamy french butter. I could have made a meal out of this simple pairing, and we consumed two servings before our meals even arrived.
Service was definitely on the slower side, but by the time we placed our order we didn’t wait too long before our entrees arrived. Deciding what to eat was difficult, but I went with the simple grilled tuna and vegetables. The tuna was served as one large oddly shaped hunk of seared fish that was awkward to maneuver with a fork and knife. The huge pile of crispy shoe string fries, however, paired perfectly with the soft fish and vegetables. The overall flavors were there, and it was cooked just as I had requested.
The chocolate fondant cake was the standout, as it usually is for me at French restaurants, but the serving of ice cream was a joke. Note to self: order two next time around.
Based off of my sister’s delicious crab cake and my aunt’s good looking cauliflower soup and mushroom ravioli, I left this restaurant pleasantly satisfied with the well rounded, simple French meal, incredibly delicious free bread, and the luscious chocolate dessert. I’ll definitely return if I’m in need of an adult-friendly place close to the 6 train, but probably won’t go out of my way for it.
Location: 411 Park Avenue South (at 29th Street)