Cafe des Artistes: An Insider's Look at the Famed Restaurant and Its Cuisine (Great Restaurants of the World)

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9780867308013: Cafe des Artistes: An Insider's Look at the Famed Restaurant and Its Cuisine (Great Restaurants of the World)

Cafe Des Artistes not only offers extraordinary culinary delights, but also houses a multimillion dollar art collection that is now viewable in this book about the landmark New York restaurant.

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Review:

"A great restaurant should be daily theater," begins Fred Ferretti, but what he ends up describing is more like a great symphony. The concertmaster is clearly George Lang, already a well-known, well-respected restaurant consultant when he bought the Café in 1975. Along with his wife, Jenifer, who joined him as managing director, and chef Thomas Ferlesch, Lang orchestrates a dining experience so perfect, the Café is consistently considered one of the few great New York City landmark restaurants.

In Café des Artistes, Ferretti takes us behind the scenes. From the remarkably amusing stories surrounding the somewhat risqué murals of naked nymphs painted by artist Howard Chandler Christy (to pay off his bar bill, rumor has it) to Lang's philosophy of simplicity and tradition, what becomes perfectly clear is that attention to detail is the secret to the Café's longtime success. Like the famous Parisian bistros and coffeehouses that inspired it, Café des Artistes prides itself on the loyalty of its staff. Hiran Pagan, a waiter there since 1954, says of his job, "This is my life." The Langs are a constant presence and Ferlesch's dedication to the restaurant and the food he presents there combine to make dining at Café des Artistes an unforgettable experience.

More than a quarter-century after its rebirth, the Café is still attracting the rich and famous, the artistic, the political, and, most importantly, its regulars. From the celebrated Paul Newman and Peter Jennings to Clare Oesch, a former bartender and waitress there, now in her 80s, the Café's regulars are intensely loyal and remain so for a variety of reasons. "Comforting food," "its aura of elegance," and the results of Lang's "Bible," an ever-changing customer-service manual his staff is required to study and practice, are all cited as reasons for the Café's continued success and myriad recommendations in every guidebook and magazine.

The last chapter of the book presents a number of the Café's most famous recipes, such as Seafood Gazpacho, Moules Honfleur, Smoked Salmon Benedict with Bearnaise Sauce, and, best of all, their signature Pot-au-Feu. Although, by the time you discover them, nothing will satisfy like a trip to New York City and a meal in one of America's truly great restaurants. --Leora Y. Bloom

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