Tidbits: Les Halles, Eleven Madison Park, Tabla Bread Bar, Sripraphai, Prune
The last week and a half or so has been busy. Here's a quick recap:
Les Halles (Park Ave. South location)
The wife suggested we go for brunch just because it was close and she'd yet to try it. After years of avoiding having a meal there with her (I'd been to the John Street locale previously myself), I'd caved in, knowing that I'd get an "I told you so" opportunity.
Sure enough, service was atrocious (empty plates/no sign of our waiter for 20 minutes) and the food was mediocre at best. I had the frisee salad, which was good, but the ham and cheese crepes were inedible. AVOID like the plague.
Eleven Madison Park
Had lunch yesterday with dad. Service was, I hate to say it, confused. Actually - the hostess was confused. Polite though. Also, I ordered the halibut, but was served the salmon. I was hungry and time was of the essence, so I just kept it. The food was delicious. Dad and I got the same dishes and being that I was in a rush, we stuck to the a la carte menu. We started with the Terrine of "Elevage Perigord" Foie Gras with Port Wine Gelee, Golden Raisins and Hazelnuts ($24). This was beautiful...though small. Served with toasted brioche, the flavor was great though I think the foie gras flavor may have been slightly crushed by the port wine gelee. This, fortunately was served with a small bowl of foie gras creme brulee that I loved the last time I was here for dinner (then it was served in a porcelan spoon). For entrees, we went with the Scottish Salmon "Mi-Cuit" with Fennel-Saffron Consomme ($27). Also excellent...though a bit high priced for what you really get. And yet, this was the second least expensive item on the menu.
For dessert, I went with the Black Mission Fig (tart with toasted almond cake, fresh chevre and red wine ice cream). Solid dessert. No doubt. Dad went with the Chocolate-Peanut (tart w/peanut butter caramel and brandied cherry-chip ice cream). It looked better and more substanitial. I think these were $12 each. Overpriced, in my opinion.
Tabla Bread Bar
I get the same thing each time I eat here. The lamb naanini sandwich. It is an excellent dish though I confess it lacked the luster of the first and second visits. Still delicious. Add a Lagunitas Brewing (Petaluma, CA) "Censored" beer and you are good to go.
Okay, I know its in Queens but it was another great trip out there. Had the crispy catfish salad, which I didn't really enjoy. Had the crispy watercress salad which was great, but not as good as its been in the past. The penang curry = as good as ever. Delicious. And I tried the drunken sauteed noodles with beef for the first time. Excellent. Note: Takeout orders of the Penang curry are smaller (I think) than the regular orders. I happened to order some more penang to go and noticed this the following morning. If doing so, I'd suggest ordering it at the table...and having them give you the packaging for to go.
Finally had brunch at Prune. A dinner there was very good and we had hopes for a great brunch. We got a very good brunch, but nothing spectactular. The star of the morning was the Southwest Bloody Mary - made with a nice anejo instead of vodka, and kicked up to the perfect heat/temp. Best bloody mary I've had since I was in Flagstaff (Flagstaff Brewing Company - believe it or not. Ask Mike to make it for you). Though the one I had at Great Jones Cafe was something special too. For food, Danna got the dutch pancake which was very tasty. The mini Canadian bacon looked average. I ordered the Huevos Rancheros which by all accounts were good, but nothing to wax poetic about. The rest of the menu looked simply okay. Service was good though...the guy with the curly blond hair was nice and the smiley hostess is pleasant. Note: the licorice you get is pretty good. The Scotty is traditional black licorice, the "coin" is more like "Fisherman's friend". Both nice. Oh and the wait was about 40 minutes at 11:10am despite being told it'd be an hour or more. The little coffee hut a few doors down serves good coffee too.
I'm sorry that your experience with Les Halles was so unsatisfactory and didnt match mine. I had one of the best meals of my life there about a year ago. The food was excellent, the service was attentive and gracious. I will definitely be returning the new time I visit your city.
Thanks for the reports/updates. I hung on with Les Halles way too long because of its location on the 6, the newspapers at the bar, the all day service, and the steak tartare, which came close 1 time out of 10. Thanks for confirming that I should not give it another shot.
I don't like the Bread Bar but every time I end up at Tabla I am shocked by how good it is. It's one of those places I never think of going, but am always transported when I do (despite the decor and the stairs). I wish I liked the Bread Bar as much as it is obviously an easier point of entry.
I am more a fan of Eleven Madison than otherwise, and enjoyed the one meal I have had there from Chef Humm's kitchen, as I also enjoyed the couple meals I had in the cafe at Campton Place although I remember thinking the preparations were too precious and too dear. I had a bit of that feeling at Eleven Madison last summer, when I thought that Kerry Heffernan's restaurant had had more soul. But that might just be a matter of personal taste.
I think Prune is (was?) vastly overrated but I have never been (tempted to go) to brunch.
-- agreed, re: Great Jones Cafe's Bloody Mary (my other fav is the one at Odeon)...i didn't care for the one dinner i had at Prune (a long time ago), but i'll keep the Bloody Mary in mind...
-- agreed, re: the awfulness of Les Halles -- my last visit there was two years ago and the bad taste still lingers...
-- at Sripraphai, have you tried the broiled catfish salad?...i prefer it to the crispy catfish salad...i'll be going there soon, because i just got back from a month in Thailand and i'm in serious withdrawl...