09 Jun2005

Brasserie Les Halles

by Marketman

Brasserie Les Halles of Anthony Bourdain (of Kitchen Confidential fame) has halles1 always served a taste of Paris in the heart of New York. What started out as a modest, unassuming brasserie at 411 Park Avenue South, has apparently blossomed into big business with branches in downtown Manhattan, Washington, DC and Miami. I remember Les Halles from its “simpler” days and we returned for lunch recently to see if things had changed dramatically. Besides a doubling in the size of the brasserie, the physical premises at the original Park Avenue South location still seemed dark, dingy and underlit. But the food was still very, very good and surprisingly reasonably priced.

Not on the current menu but a favorite way back when was a dish of braised leeks halles4with lots of butter. We asked the waiter if the chef would oblige and he got the kitchen to cook up a plate for us – it was absolutely delicious. We also ordered some escargots (snails) which arrived out of their shells, swimming in butter and served with slices of superb freshly baked bread. For the main course, my daughter surprised us by ordering a gorgeous (and large) dish of moules marinieres with a wine based tomato sauce (she had snails and mussels in one meal!) served with a large plate of frites. My wife ordered a tartiflette which is a gratin of fingerling potatoes, reblochon cheese and bacon that was very rich but very good. I opted for a confit de canard served with diced potatoes fried crisp in duck lard and served with a salad.

Some of the waiters at Les Halles have an air of Paris haughtiness halles3or certainty that Anthony Bourdain seems to exude himself. When we first got to the restaurant, without a reservation, it felt as though we were being treated like wayward Japanese tourists that were out on a tour. That attitude soon softened however when we asked about the braised leeks and ordered escargots. Our main courses confounded the waiter further and there was a visible lightening of mood. As the brasserie filled up, it became apparent why… 90% of the lunchtime crowd ordered steak frites (steak with French fries) so ours was one of the few tables that was eating more adventurously. The overall experience was extremely good, and at USD75 (+tip, no wine) for 3 people, a relative bargain. Brasserie Les Halles is open 7 days a week, offers non-stop meal service from 8 am to 12 midnight and is located at 411 Park Avenue South, New York. They have a take out menu…



  1. schatzli says:

    Am dying to go back to France soonest.My husband has a booking for fly out for work this coming 17th and I told him I will tag along.

    Miss good french brasseries.. but at the moment still savouring Greek food and markets.

    I like the way you say HAUGHTY waiters… will certainly put NY on my culinary trip wish list though my husband cant get enough of Napa!

    Good stories as usual Market Man

    Jun 10, 2005 | 5:37 am


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  3. schatzli says:

    wait a minute 75$ you cant be kidding with escargots,
    moulles, canard for that price! whoa wanderlust is coming to New York!
    Am still having an after shock of Oslo’s prices we went to a french brasserie for 2 people, main coursse, 1 dessert, 2 glasses of wine we paid around $150.

    Jun 10, 2005 | 5:42 am


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