Saturday, January 05, 2008

And then there was lunch at Les Halles. Like a lot of people, I hadn't visited the restaurant (chain) until reading Anthony Bourdain, famously the former executive chef at Les Halles New York on Park Avenue. When I finally decided to stop in for lunch on a warm, sunny day in D.C., I decided the only thing to order was the house speciality: steak frites.

I ordered the steak rare, and it arrived perfectly done, along with the surprisingly light and tasty frites. The small salade of fresh greens was a refreshing complement. Steak lovers should remember, however, that the hanger steak served at the Les Halles is considerably chewier than you'll find at most fine dining restaurants. Anyone used to ordering filet mignon is well advised to do a few jaw exercizes before visiting.

As always, the meal was preceded by a basket of sliced baguette and butter. The bread's crust was a little less crusty than I expected, but was still good. The butter, unfortunately, was hard chilled and difficult to spread. A slightly softened serving of butter is always one of my favorite small touches at any restaurant.

On this particular late summer day, I felt an Amstel Light (or two) would support the meal quite nicely. While the service overall was rather indifferent, my second beer was solicited and brought with lightning speed. Classic restaurant management: always push the alcohol.

And always upsell. In this case, though, I upsold myself. After finishing my steak and the last of the frites that were still above room temperature, I decided that the only proper way to round out this mid-week indulgence was with a crisp glass of Champagne. The Taittinger Brut NV was, at $16 a glass, a bit higher on the food chain than I'm used to, but all the more satisfying for it.

>>Taken September 18, 2007


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