The warm sun is finally shining. The film festival has successfully come and gone. And the Triple Crown is headed to New York once again. Just when you thought you had no reason to head south, here comes Tribeca. I am always looking for a reason to head to the Triangle Below Canal Street (yup, that's what it actually stands for), but I actually never feel extremely drawn to the neighborhood. The name has always sounded cool to me and, given the high quantity of lofts in the area, I always think there is great potential for attractive destinations. However, if someone were to ask me my favorite "go-to" restaurant in Tribeca, there definitely would be a hesitation. And eventually, I would sadly have to admit that I hardly ever even go to Tribeca!
That was, at least, the case until a few weeks ago. Ask me the same question today and I can immediately answer - Bar Artisanal. It's amazing how much can change in so little time. This new venture from the owners of the uptown Artisanal exemplifies what Tribeca should be all about - great space, excellent food, and affordable prices. The extremely high ceilings create a grandeur while its brasserie decor maintains a comfortable and casual vibe. I am reminded of all that I love about the French dining experience.
The menu is extremely varied and affordable, encouraging sharing and indulgence. I really appreciated the Amuse Bouche section where there are not only excellent options, but they are also decent portions. I recommend the manchego beignets and the fried artichokes. As far as taste goes, the beignets are actually exactly as you would imagine they would be. I have rarely come across a beignet or a cheese I would turn down so I was overjoyed with this combination. The artichokes are prepared with a Provencal anchovy sauce that is excellent. From the raw fish section, the diver scallops with citrus soy dressing, sesame powder and cilantro is a great option. This is an extremely fresh and light dish, but with very bold flavors.
My favorite section on the menu is the Petits Plats. I was extremely impressed with so many of these dishes. Not only were the flavors right on, but again, so were the portions. The hardest part is narrowing down the many options. The soft egg, wild mushrooms, ramps, and frico (parmesan crisp) was incredible. As the yolk breaks, all of the ingredients are brought together and create a sort of upscale dip. Save some of the warm baguette that they bring out at the start of the meal as you will certainly need something to sweep this plate clean. I would also urge you to try the cod, chorizo, fingerling potatoes, and cockles. While this may sound like a typical cod dish, the flavors in the sauce bring all of the ingredients together in a way that only French restaurants can truly master - I am certain there is just a hint of buerre in there. And, finally, the octopus with chickpeas and smoked paprika is a definite order. I was not as impressed by the overly smoked flavors in the pork belly, however, the meat alone was very well prepared.
After sharing several small plates instead of ordering a traditional 2 course meal, I am almost always able to convince myself that I have eaten less (no matter how full I really am feeling). Given the nice sized portions of the smaller plates at this restaurant, there was no question that I had been well served. However, this feeling has never stopped me before and small plates somehow justify and actually really do encourage ordering up one final course. At Bar Artisanal, I urge you to keep up this small plate mentality. The chocolate mousse with hazelnut crunch, coffee granita, and chocolate foam had even the fruit lovers going back for more. However, for the fruit lover, the whipped ricotta with a ruhubard-ginger compote topped with a balsamic glaze is the way to go. I have no question that I have now found my "go-to" restaurant in Tribeca. And as soon as others see this excellent use of space, I have a feeling there will be many more to follow in this direction. I have never denied it. No matter the time of year, there is always a reason to head south!
Bar Artisanal 268 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):