And now the French

I discovered myself in French food fairly regularly in the last few days. I also realized that for some reason all French restaurants in New York look very similar. The first was Les Halles, one branch of which is right around the corner from my house and open till midnight. yes there's a celebrity chef involved, but the place isn't fantastically expensive. The roast duck was basic and simple, but beautifully executed - enough to overcome the bother of constant jabber from my somewhat inebriated (and male) neighbor. It had this half-inch thick meltingly sinful skin, browned and crisp on top but a sweet yam mash on the side that I didn't care for. Then there was Artisanal, widely known as cheese heaven with another celebrity chef in tow. The cheese plates are excellent; amazing choice and good presentation. A waiter with a disappointing lack of accent informed us that there was a short list of cheese (around 40) on the specials and the whole list of over 150 (some of which may not be there anymore) but our best bet if we insisted on seeing everything was to visit the temperature-controled cheese shelves at the back called the 'Cave'. The $35 plate came with four cheeses (that my Swiss companion and the waiter conspired to choose) generously sprinkled with pate, cold cuts and preserves and even some wonderful dijon mustard. I licked my chops through a fairly expensive cheese plate and a bottle of bourdeax but didn't get as far as the food - though we did try the competent gougeres as starters. Also on the list was L'Express, open 24 hours on Park Avenue. Nice seating, decent eggs - probably the only place for a sit-down breakfast in that area. They didn't seem to worried that I kept talking like a retard into a cellphone while ordering.

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