I had absolutely no plans/desire to go to Artisanal til I read the rave review that Erica Marcus posted a couple of weeks ago.
I brought my cheese-lovin friend, who also reacts very badly to inattentive/snotty service so I was a little anxious because of previous posts on the service side of Artisanal. It turned out not to be a problem whatsoever. Our server, Mark was a dramatic masterpiece. By dramatic, I have to be stereotypical and say that this man HAS to be some kind of Shakespearean actor. The world is his stage...everytime he appeared at our table, he had our attention. He was quite a character.
At the point during our meal when we had finished licking our stilton sauterine fondue pot clean, he observed us trying to turn off the flame. He had an empty wineglass in his hand I swear that he tossed the glass over his head to a bus boy and rushed over to our aid.
For my main, I had to have the chicken under a brick, and it was incredible. The chicken was incredibly moist, sitting on a bed of mashed potatoes (with cheese, of course). After the fondue, I could only finish half of my chicken but it made a mighty tasty lunch the next day.
My friend had one of the daily specials, a monk fish with a "luscious" risotto. It totally paled in comparison to my chicken but was good on it's on merit.
For dessert, we were completely stuffed so we shared a glass of port. They even split the port in two different glasses--a very nice touch I thought.
I was there last night too (I'm assuming you were there last night because of the monk fish). Had a great experience as well, with the waiter being most attentive and helpful. When my wife and friend wanted to share the Filet Mignon (to save room for the wonderful cheese) the waiter suggested they share another beef dish because it was in two small pieces and thus easier to share. And guess what? It was less expensive and delicious.
One thing - anyone feel funny about eating at a restaurant called Art Is Anal?
I had my first dinner at Artisinal on Wednesday nite after 3 prior business lunches. Similar to both of your meals, my food was great and the service was significantly above average.
I found strategizing our meal (we were 4) to be agonizing. Along with the standard bistro apps, entrees and deserts the potential for overstruffing is huge. If you don't factor in extra room in your belly for fondues and cheese plates you will pay for your mistake with a sleepless nite and a serious bellyache.
This time the 4 of us started with an Artisinal fondue, a potato onion tart with beaufort cheese and bacon, an entree size of steak tar tar (HUGE portion, great quality but a little heavy on the capers) and delcious mussels - then two excellent hericot vert salads after the entrees.
We then finished the meal with a selection of 6 excellent cheeses. The glasses of wine caught up with me here so IIRC (4); an awesome sharp chedder from the Isle of Mull (I think), a buttery/nutty petite basque, an excellent manchego that came with a few slabs of membrillo (quince paste) and a great Chevre.
Next time Im going for a fondue, seafood tower and that chocolate fodue desert Im craving for.
The place gets really packed at dinner and the noise level is up there.
Incidentally, if anyone knows the dream woman dining alone at a back table around 1030pm on Wednesday...