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Artisinal“You’re home early,” He said pressing the mute button on the remote.  “Did you have fun?”  Hmmm. Yes. Out for dinner with a wonderful friend, we did have fun, but that had less to do with the restaurant and more to do with the company.

Artisinal Bistro and Fromagerie in midtown Manhattan holds pride of place in the small dining desert surrounding Madison and 32nd.  Usually full, bordering on cramped, privy to perhaps everyone’s conversation but your own, it can get loud.  Pace is definitely on the menu, Are you ready to order, can I take that away for you, will there be anything else. Not my choice for a relaxing or romantic meal.  But a weeknight after work near the office? Not a bad choice.

Having ordered a St. Emilion Grand Cru and being presented a lesser vintage some $65 cheaper, the waiter appeared more confused than concerned.  The gougere were room temperature. Entrees arrived before the gougere could be eaten.  My duck was tasty but overly salted and overly sauced. My guest didn’t comment on her meal. I was afraid to ask. The wine, however late to the table, was great.

But for cheese lovers, mes amis, this is the place to be.  Order pretty much anything from their cheese menu you will have a wonderful time with the added bonus of being able to purchase any of their cheeses on the menu (and more) from the fromagerie before you leave.  Cheese is deservedly Artisinal’s hallmark and strength.  Given the smiles and happy faces with fondue forks in hand,  this is the raison d’etre for Artisinal. Given the range of selection and extensive wine selections on offer, it won’t be difficult to have great experience (and a little something to take home from the counter). Worth noting, catering and on-line delivery and shipping are also available, so their website is definitely worth checking out.