Three Words: Artisanal was Dismal

At least the fondue was insect-free.
It's Restaurant Week in NYC, and I wanted take advantage of some real culinary delights that the best city on the planet has to offer.

Which is why I got upset when I ended up here, of all places: Artisanal Bistro.

For the love of God, why do I always pick these rotten restaurants?

I don't seek out these places! Instead, I had hoped for a blog full of flavorful, insightful places to dine. Instead, I have had more bad experiences recently, than good.

It's really unfortunate.

And at the same time, it's perfect blogging material!

Here's the scenario:
It's a Sunday afternoon and I'm browsing for a reservation. Not sure what I want, but it seems the places that I had earmarked were not available. OpenTable allowed me to look at available time slots for all restaurants participating in Restaurant Week.

I went through the list once, then back to the top. Artisanal is pretty close to my apartment. I have walked by there a few times...and began to think, "Hmmmm.... fondue might be good tonight!" I've never been there before, so why not finally take the chance?

Bread and cheese. What's not to like? 

So I booked the reservation and we were out of the house in about an hour. All ready for some cheesy action!

I always approach a new restaurant with a great deal of enthusiasm. I'm looking forward to something new and I can only hope that it will be a terrific experience.

Alas, this is my downfall.

After getting there on time and taking our seats, we hear trays falling. This wouldn't be the first time. It was an on-going event at Artisanal. Apparently bus boys and wait staff have issues holding trays, glasses, silverware; anything that could hit the floor, does. And frequently. Coordinated, they are not.

I ordered fondue (I know, shocking). My significant other ordered the Prix Fixe: Wild Mushroom Risotto, Mussels Frites, and the dessert that would come later. Much, much later.

[FYI: I should also put out the disclaimer that I have traveled in Switzerland extensively. I know fondue. I know all about cheese. If it is possible to be a Fondue Snob of Non-Swiss Decent, I'm it.]

When ordering, I also asked for some iced tea. Not a tall order to go along with a plain fondue dish. I thought we were ordering simple.

Food arrives. No iced tea. At least not right away. Tap water was on the table, so I wasn't dying of thirst like I had at another bad restaurant. (You can read all about that disaster, here.)

A runner brings over the iced tea after about 6-8 minutes passed with my main course. I see something in it that resembles a segmented insect. Uh. No. Not going to drink that. However, could I find ANYONE in the immediate area that was NOT dropping something loudly in the vicinity or could actually help me get a new glass of ant-free iced tea? Anyone? At all?

Finally told the waitress. And she quickly took the glass away with promises to give me a new one. Ten minutes later, still no iced tea. No action. The water glass is close to empty now too, and again, where is the waitstaff? Still dropping things, apparently.

I continued to eat the unremarkable fondue. (It was just cheese. There was dried out bread cubes that tasted more like sawdust. For a restaurant that bills itself as having these incredible cheeses, ummmm... I'm not feeling it. Or rather, tasting it.)

The prix fixe was tolerable. That's about all I can say. There just isn't anything else to be said about the food.

The waitress comes by once more, and has the "Oh! Iced tea!" moment. She goes back and brings me a glass of iced tea. She quickly sets it down and rushes away.

I'm staring at this glass set down before me. Curious. It already has a straw in it. The last iced tea came with a fresh straw and a lemon on the outside of the glass. This lemon was IN the glass. Oh. And sugar was already added. Along with an ANT IN THE FREAKING GLASS. The dingbat GAVE ME THE SAME GLASS OF ICED TEA!!!!!!  Lord only KNOWS WHERE SHE PICKED THAT UP after it SAT for over 10 minutes in another location! Is this waitress OUT OF HER FRICKIN' MIND?!?!?!?!?!???!??!???!??

The ding-a-ling, of course, was no longer around - she had disappeared. We wouldn't see her for over an HOUR. That's right. An hour. The waitress was just overwhelmed -or just stupid. Not sure which. Maybe a combination.

At LEAST another waiter brought me a FRESH iced tea after another 5 minutes of waiting. Although, at that point, I was a little leery of this restaurant's hygienic practices.

About 45 minutes later, we got the prix fixe dessert and waited ANOTHER 25 minutes after the plate was cleared for the check. We actually had to request that the General Manager to find out where our waitress had hidden in order to LEAVE this Dismal Artisanal. The GM returned with a check and had comped a couple of items from the final charges. I mean, at least he tried....

It was too late to care anymore. I was still in shock over my tainted tea and the total lack of service.

Final thoughts: Artisanal is NOT a French bistro in ANY way, shape or form. It is a loud diner. The food is just about the same quality as any NYC diner too, but be ready to pay a French bistro price. Bring ear plugs if you have them as well as a florescent wand to flag down staff (you know, the kind they use on the tarmac at the airport to wave the planes into the gate). Don't have plans to go anywhere and bring a can of Raid, just in case.

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