What a disappointment! We'd been trying to get in for a long time, made it tonight, ordered a number of things and nothing lived up to the hype or our expectations.
The beet salad was fine but the shrimp balls were just okay and the lamb ribs were way too seasoned, too hot even for those who enjoy spicy food. They're fatty, which we could have handled had they tasted good. Then I spotted the Fries - thick, looking too puffy - making you suspect they'd been boiled. They came under the beef cheek and absorbed the cloying, sweet sauce, making them yet worse. The meat was tender and seemed to be good quality but the sauce was overpowering and terrible. We barely ate any of the beef cheek. We also ordered the special gnocchi, which was edible, but we left much of that also.
The wait between the appetizers and main course was perhaps 20-25 minutes. When I told the waiter the fries were soggy and didn't hold up under the sauce, his answer was, "That's how we serve the beef cheeks. If you want to order a side of Fries, I can bring them". That's hardly an accommodating, "we'd like to see you again" response. We'd ordered enough food to allow a few free Fries, but it was mostly revealing of an attitude.
Chairs are uncomfortable. The place looks nice enough but it didn't feel professional or interested in pleasing - on top of things being overly seasoned as if they didn't trust the ingredients.
Don't give up on them yet. You have to be careful what you order. Among the things we had, the bitter ballen, pork with endive vinaigrette, the frites and the outrageously good beer were all best. My husband liked the carbonnade but I've had better. And I agree that the decor is more uncomfortable than it has to be.
Noise is definitely a problem. I ate there tonight with my wife and was shocked at the volume to crowd ratio. It was like they were miking the place. As for the food, we had the deviled eggs, ballen, beef cheeks, and moules frites. The mussels were good. The eggs were overpowered by the pork toast. The cheeks had an amazing texture and an average taste. i wouldn't order it again. As for the much praised ballen, I don't see what the fuss is about. Somebody on this board said the mustard seed aioli tasted like dijonaise. I had the same thought. I'd go back to Resto because it's close to my job and the beers are good. The food's not bad, but the rave reviews in the Times and elsewhere surprise me a bit. I mean, their whole hooks is frites but you can scoot over a few blocks and get far better ones at Les Halles.
I have to agree with the disappointment expressed by most of the other posters. I went to Resto last night, in part because their website says that they reserve a certain amount of tables for walk-ins every night. We arrived at 6:15, assuming that we would be safe to walk in and get a table. The place was basically empty at that point, but when the hostess sat us, she mentioned to us that we had to be up and out by 7:30, because she had a reservation coming in at that time - not cool.
But we brushed off that unwelcoming start, chalking it up to the hostess's youth and inexperience. Service was decent, but our server didn't really know the beer list that well. I have a fair amount of experience drinking Belgian beers, but there were a few options on their list that I had never tried. The server was able to describe the general styles of the beers I was interested in, but not the individual beers themselves. A minor quibble, but when you're restaurant is selling beer at $10 a bottle, I think the staff should be knowledgeable as to each one - or at least put some kind of descriptive terms on the menu.
For dinner, we started with the bitter ballen, which were ok, but nothing spectacular. I was surprised to see that they were deep-fried - and unfortunately, the breading really overwhelmed the meatballs. There were some interesting flavors happening inside, once you got past the fryer-oil taste on the exterior, but for the most part, they reminded me of a high-end corndog with a side of mustard. I would not order them again.
For dinner, we had steak frites and moules frites. In both cases, the food was ok, but not spectacular. I think the steak was a hangar. It was cooked beautifully, and the bearnaise was perfect, but the portion seemed rather small. I ordered the moules with bacon and creamed leeks, which was good, but not amazing - I have definitely made better mussels at home. There wasn't a whole lot of sauce in the mussel pot, and what was there was thin and brothy, while I was hoping for a little more creaminess. The bacon was very flavorful though, enough to infuse through the entire pot. But about halfway through, I came across a bad mussel - it was open slightly, not all the way. It looked fine, but it immediately tasted "off" when I put it in my mouth (to put it politely). That kind of ruined the rest of the pot for me.
Both of our dinners came with frites, and we were hoping that they would be amazing. They were crispy and fluffy inside, but like another poster said, they just were not as good as the frites at Les Halles, around the corner. And the mayo was just flat out bland and disappointing. It literally tasted like nothing - just a side of whipped fat. And yes, you can buy special dipping sauces on the side for $1, but why even bother with the mayo, then? Just work that $1 into the price to begin with, and give your customers something other than a pool of blandness with their frites.
Overall, I'm not sure I'd return. I liked the appearance of the place (it did remind me of Belgium), and I would love to spend a few hours drinking beer there, but the food just wasn't that great. Maybe I didn't try the right items, but for the most part, the menu wasn't really that interesting to me to begin with. Pig's ear salad, braised beef cheeks, deviled eggs - nearly the entire menu was comprised of the cheapest cuts around, heavily prepped, and sold at an appreciable mark-up. I know that that's how restaurant economics work, and maybe the owner's vision is to sell that kind of traditional peasant fare, but I have no interest in it. There are too many other choices in this town.