15 John St
(between Broadway & Nassau St)
New York, NY 10038
Oh, Anthony Bourdain. You are not only awesome, but years after you left Brasserie Les Halles in New York, people (including myself) still want to pay homage to you by eating there. It didn't hurt that I purchased the Les Halles Cookbook and had it autographed that time we met. Flipping through the book, the recipe and photo for cassoulet stood out to me immediately as something I had to try ASAP. This rustic bean and meat-laden casserole just oozes perfection from it's oh-so-appetizing photo to the lengthy process to make it. When I was unable to secure reservations at the Park Avenue South location where you once reined, I decided I would be willing to live the Bourdain experience at the downtown location, with the same name and menu. I headed way downtown with a couple of friends who shared my enthusiasm for trying this place.
I didn't have to look at the menu (although peripherally I noticed about 5 dozen other items I would love to try), I knew I'd be having the cassoulet. My friends chose the famous steak tartare and the French dip sandwich respectively. I tasted the tartare (they are known for this and prepare it tableside, which just adds to the awesomeness... and PS both the tartare and cassoulet recipes are included in the book) and it was really tasty. It was a whole lotta meat, but it came with a side salad and fries. The sandwich looked really tasty as well, but best of all was my cassoulet. The duck confit was perfectly moist and just fell apart with the slightest pressure from my fork. The sausages were juicy and delicious as was the pork, but my favorite part of the dish by far were the beans. They were velvety perfection, melting in my mouth, seasoned just right, creamy, with just a touch of bread crumbs over the whole dish to just add that special rustic touch. I was floored. Even though this recipe takes three days to prepare start to finish, I am now sure that three days will be well worth the effort to replicate whatever it is I tasted way downtown that cold night in New York. And if you can't wait three days, you have a choice of locations at which to enjoy it...
Cassoulet “Toulousain” $21.50
Steak Tartare $16.50, French Dip Sandwich $15.50