I'd been to Artisanal, the cheese-oriented restaurant on Park between 32nd and 33rd once before for dinner. Then I had gougeres (small balls of bread stuffed with cheese), and a pasta dish, both of which had been good but relatively forgettable.
Recently I decided to try Artisanal out for brunch and see if it did better there than for dinner. Artisanal at brunch on a weekend is bustling in a large windowed space. White tablecloths, a large clock above the bar, and an impression of light and motion are what define the space for me.
I ordered ricotta crepes and an eggs en cocotte dish. The crepes came lukewarm if that, and tasted bland. The only accompaniment was a drizzle of sauce around the crepes that simply wasn't enough to flavor the crepes with. The main dish was equally disappointing: eggs en cocotte is a baked egg dish in cast iron. It came with spinach and mushrooms. Unfortunately, they undersalted the egg, and moreover, simply weren't creative with it. My egg was boring.
Service was also decidedly mediocre. Not that it was (entirely) my waiter's fault: he was clearly harried. But when it came difficult to get someone's attention, I knew there was a problem.
Artisanal is a well-known restaurant with a devoted following. Unfortunately, it looks like it's starting to rest on its laurels and letting itself decline. What a pity.