Monday, April 16, 2007

My new hero

Since there was no Iron Chef on last night, bumped off for the completely useless Food Network Awards, I’m going to take this time to talk about my wonderful lunch at Les Halles and the wonderful book written by its owner, Anthony Bourdain.

Allow me to go on a mini rant before I start: Why does the Food Network feel the need to invent some useless award show when they could just televise or make a bigger deal of the James Beard Foundation awards – something that people in the food community actually care about. I could care less about some award that Sandra Lee gives out – what I do care about is an award given out by a truly reputable organization. Get with it Food Network. Go back to doing what made me love you so much – letting real chefs cook, and me wish I could afford to eat their food.

Now, speaking of a real chef whose food I can afford to eat; Anthony Bourdain is my new hero. The George Patton of the culinary world, Bourdain comes out guns blazing in Kitchen Confidential, speaking the truth on the restaurant industry and those of us who fill its seats and its coffers.

So I don’t repeat much of what’s already been said of this best seller, I’ll keep it short. The stories are sharp and dirty, and you really leave the book wondering how Bourdain survived the drugs and the shady practices to become as successful as he has been. It’s a true testament to his brilliance as a chef and an entrepreneur.

It’s a quick read, so you have no excuse. Buy it, read it, you won’t be able to put it down until you finish it.

Now, onto the food. Les Halles, located conveniently at 12th and Pennsylvania, right from the Federal Triangle Metro stop, is almost everything I expected and more.

Arriving at noon on Sunday, the restaurant was fairly empty, but I’m sure most of that could be contributed to the horrible weather outside. Once our coats were checked we (myself and four friends) were sat towards the back of the restaurant. The restaurant itself is fairly large, but sectioned off nicely into manageable sections.

The service was sharp and quick. I must have had my water glass filled at least seven times, and at no point did we have to go above and beyond to get our waitress’s attention.

We didn’t get any appetizers, but plenty of bread and butter was supplied. The bread was good – nothing earth shattering, but just good French bread. The butter was a little hard though, a result of just coming out of the fridge; but once warmed up, the combination of both was enjoyed by all.

For my main course, I decided upon the Moules and Frites. Les Halles’ frites are supposed to be some of the best, and upon tasting I can see why. Very fresh and incredibly light, they were well seasoned and had a great texture to them. I wish they were a bit warmer, but in all, very good.

The mussels, and there were a lot of them, were also quality. Not the best I’ve ever had (that distinction goes to Jaleo), but they were very good and I certainly got my money’s worth for $16.50.

In all, the prices were great for the meal received, and I definitely plan on returning.

You can’t come away from either Kitchen Confidential or Les Halles without being impressed by Bourdain. He gets both the big and the little things right, and that results in one great meal, and one great book.

Les Halles
1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Ph: 202-347-6848

Kitchen Confidential

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