Fine gourmet cheeses, endless bottles of wine, sumptuous French bistro dishes….this might sound like the makings of a culinary daydream, but these are also the fundamental pillars of NYC’s Artisinal. Designed like an old-fashioned (but beautiful, spacious, and upscale) Parisian bistro, Artisinal specializes in fromage–the restaurant even features a “cheese cave” (ignore the questionable name), providing a temperature and humidity-controlled space for their handcrafted cheeses, and a retail counter in the dining room if you want to take some home! But non-lactose enthusiasts, fear not: one can easily enjoy a cheese-free meal here that is equally outstanding. I recommend a little bit of both. On a recent visit, we started with a perfect spiced olives and Marcona almonds appetizer (reminded me of Spain), along with delectable savory pastry puffs baked with a hint of Gruyere cheese. A delicious entree option was the wild mushroom risotto, which at least looked a little healthy thanks to additions of spring vegetables and pea tendrils. For a lighter option, the Chicken Paillard salad with asparagus and a mushroom vinaigrette (nice twist) was quite tasty, or their Tuna Nicoise salad is an equally dependable alternative. For dessert, we couldn’t resist ordering an Artisinal Cheesecake with our coffees, which is prepared with pecan praline, caramel sauce drizzle, and a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Yes, it is as mouth-watering as it sounds. The coffees also arrived with a small platter of mini dessert pastries, which was a thoughtful touch. Thoughtful is a good way to describe the experience at Artisinal, for it really feels like a place where they take their bistro fare seriously–and the result pays off. If you’d like to enjoy the $29.50 lunch prix fixe, try getting there before 12:30 (the space really fills up with power lunchers from the corporate area). And if you’re in the area and want to sample the goods without sitting down, try a scoop of their house-made seasonal ice cream from a cute cart they park outside the restaurant on warm days. If flavors like salted caramel and Tahitian vanilla bean don’t sell you, I don’t know what will! Artisinal is located on 32nd street between Park and Madison, and reservations can be made here.