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Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  4,893 Ratings  ·  125 Reviews
Before stunning the world with his bestselling Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain spent years serving some of the best French brasserie food in New York. With its no-nonsense, down-to-earth atmosphere, Les Halles matched Bourdain's style perfectly: a restaurant where you can dress down, talk loudly, drink a little too much wine, and have a good time with friends. Now, ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 19th 2004 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 1st 2004)
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Patrick Brown
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If I were allowed to read only one cookbook (that's read, not necessarily make the recipes) this one would be it. Bourdain has that rare ability to condescend to you and motivate you to try something new at the same time. It's a mix found in the finest drill instructors, high school math teachers, and apparently, celebrity chefs.

As a side note, I went to Les Halles in NYC in June of this year, and my meal SUCKED! My steak was tough, the fries, about which he rhapsodizes for page after page in t
Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-cooking
Lots of swearing at Americans for how we choose our cuts of beef, overcook green beans, etc. All of which I agree with because I am in love with Anthony Bourdain.

My only criticism of this book is that there are not enough pictures of Anthony Bourdain in it.
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
I love Anthony Bourdain, but I don't think I will cook anything from this collection.

These recipes remind me (once again) why I do not love French cooking. Too much meat, too much meat fat, not enough fresh flavor. Most of the recipes call for homemade stock (veal, chicken, beef, duck, lamb, fish) and a bit of demi-glace. Bourdain devotes several pages to stocks and demi, without mentioning anything of a roasted vegetable stock, which I make and am fond of. I make other stocks, too, mostly not
Apr 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cookbooks, new-york
Look...I love Anthony. I've watched every episode of Cook's Tour, No Reservations and the Layover three or four times each. I've read almost all of his books. I used to eat at Les Halles back when he actually worked there. Big fan. All that being said...this cookbook just isn't very good. If you follow the recipes to the letter, what you wind up with is adequate meals that approximately appear & taste as they should on a most baseline level. Nothing more. And certainly nothing special. I've ...more
Dec 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like to eat.
Shelves: cooking-eatings
probably the funniest cookbook you'll ever read. i may not boil pounds and pounds of bones down over two days in an economy-size cooker that i don't own to make my own demi-glace, but it's not like mssr. bourdain is really standing behind me with a meat cleaver for not doing so.

some recipes are totally approachable and do-able, some require more of you and maybe more than you're able to handle.

one of the more enduring passages has to do with the subject of cooking lobsters, and the probable sque
Jul 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you take nothing else from this book, follow these 3 rules:
1. make your own stock, making your own demi glace from the stock, you'll understand once you've done it why this is essential.
2. only eat mussels at home.
3. a well-prepared meal inspires not only confidence, it can be a great way to get back at someone and show them up.
Sometimes the instructions are too skeletal for my liking--I find myself panicky and sniveling about unexpected events I encounter between steps. If you want culinary
Mar 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
When I have a serious piece of meat or an ingredient I want to show off and still manage to cook it so I can eat dinner, I reach for Les Halles cookbook by none other than Anthony Bourdain. I don't eat meat too often, I know he does and writes about it a lot, but when I do I like to treat it with respect and use it to its full potential, when I finally do indulge in it, I can think of a few other French cookbooks that I have but this one has spunk, and is so gosh darn entertaining too. It has kn ...more
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This cookbook has served me very well over the few years I've owned it. Love Bourdain's style, and his recipes are unbeatable.

I originally bought this book on the strength of its mushroom soup recipe- simple, tasty, versatile, but the page with all the greasy stains on it which gets pulled out all the time is the Poulet Roti-- the best roast chicken recipe I've ever seen.

Even with all its use, I only recently went back and read the lengthier written portions. He is a truly engaging writer and
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sommer by: Dad
I fell in love with this book the moment I opened it up to some random spot in the middle and the first sentence I read included the word "fuck." Nothing like one of the naughtier of the four letter words in a cook book. I heart Anthony Bourdain.

Mary Reed
Aug 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
how do you review a cookbook? this is the most non-traditional, unforgiving, scathing cookbook you can find. He's got insane recipes but just biting commentary, I actually found myself reading it almost as a book. If you're into food, I'd definitely recommend owning a copy.
Feb 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cooking
I love the blunt , honest style this cookbook is written in.
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Yes. I'm a vegetarian and I'm giving Bourdain a 5-star rating.

It's an oddly entertaining cookbook. You can actually read it cover to cover and enjoy just that experience, but I'd highly recommend trying your hand at any of the recipes. My copy is now well worn and covered with various food stains. A true sign of a well-loved cookbook.

The recipes are exceptionally easy to follow. I love Julia Child as much as the next girl, but sometimes her instructions are lacking in clarity. I find Bourdain t
Jan 04, 2010 rated it liked it
this book is what it says it is, it's Tony Bourdain's recipes from Les Halles along with his style of commentary. I like the recipes, if only for the same reasons I like the recipes in the French Laundry Cookbook - I probably won't make most of them, but they're something to aspire to, or adapt to my own abilities (for instance, i'm NOT going to make veal stock any year soon... it's just over the top when you're normally cooking for 2. Demi-glace from D'artagnon however? that I will buy).

I've b
Sep 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
As a huge cookbook reader and a Bourdain fan, this one rates top shelf placement in my collection. From the perspective of a plain old, ordinary cookbook, it's great: bright, sexy photographs, clearly printed recipes, nicely organized into sensible (not kitchy) sections. Everything I look for.

The recipes are presented in an unusual fashion. They begin with the standard ingredient list, but the step by step instructions read like prose: he's teaching you how to create the dish the way your mom or
I don't know much about French food, but I've read a couple of Anthony Bourdain's books and seen his travel show, so I figured I'd try my hand at a few dishes straight from the French/American bastard himself.

First of all, you'll never find a more entertaining cookbook. A good 30% of the dishes in this book are beyond the capabilities of mere mortal men. And you don't get those stereotypical pastoral-fantasy explanations of dishes that you get in other cook books (eg. "...the fond memories of my
Mar 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
It's well written, but a lousy cookbook.

Does that make sense? It does to me. And I've TRIED to make his food. Pelé help me: I've tried. But some of them are just fricking impossible.

Take rillettes. Wonderful food. Absolutely delicious. His recipe makes them sound as good as they are.

I double dog dare anyone who has no previous experience with charcuterie to figure out what the H he is actually talking about. His steps are so vague as to be almost useless.

My wife's gramma used to give barely
Erik Waiss
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Let's be clear, this is a cookbook. Not a lot of plot involved, it's just Anthony Bourdain telling us how to cook. The ingredients are not cheap, nor are they in small quantities. If you were to cook a several course meal out of this book imagine that you're going to have to spend your entire paycheck. That is not to say that there's nothing useful to be gained here. There's a lot of discussion of technique as well as flavor combinations that can be altered to suit your budget. The two page rant ...more
Oct 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cooking-food
Hands down the most condescending and yet most informative cookbook I have ever read. I treated this book like a normal autobiography and read it cover to cover - laughing at Bourdain's cockiness and ability to make the reader feel like they know nothing.

That said, this book has so much good information about setting up a kitchen, tips on dinner parties, etc. I borrowed it from the library this time, but it is on my must buy list. He lays out great tips and tricks on how to be successful in the
Alison Haney
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Bourdain fans
I haven't made my way through the whole book yet, but for those of you who enjoy Bourdain's unapologetic style of writing...this book does NOT disappoint. I haven't laughed this much while reading a book in a while. How many cookbooks have you read where the writer/chef addresses the reader as "Numbnuts"? Even the recipes are written as if he was standing next to you telling (and at times, yelling at) you what to do. My favorite comment that had me in tears...

"Don't worry. Lobsters are essential
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recipes are picky preparations but absolutely worth it. This is the book and the chef that brought me my dearest friends and kicked off our first cookbook club gathering.

Here's what I've tasted and the cookbook club cooks who made them:

Me - boeuf bourguingon: not your corn starch thickened momma's beef stew. Use a good wine and you won't regret it.

Gretchen - moules a la grecque: Nothing could sway my love of mussels. The Fennel bulb was a delightful twist

Molly - petatou: Olives are annoying to
Celeste Miller
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Though a bit overfond of the word "noble" and the rule of three, Bourdain is a damn good writer. At the same time he calls you numbnuts or knucklehead (sometimes within the ingredients list) or urge you to hang yourself with your own apron (should you roast a chicken the way most Americans do), Tony does actually want you to learn these techniques and dishes. He may be a chef, but he's first and foremost an eater and his snark and hauteur come from the right place -- if you can, why would you ch ...more
Jan 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-my-kitchen
I cannot rate this cookbook highly enough. Bourdain's personality shows through, but it doesn't detract from the food - much (if not most) of which I tried at Les Halles before the Washington store closed. If this doesn't turn you on to French bistro and peasant food, I'm not sure anything will.

Witness his introduction to Pâté de Campagne:

"You've made meat loaf, right? You've eaten cold meat loaf, yes? Then you're halfway to being an ass-kicking, name-taking charcutier. "Ooooh... pâté, I don't
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Read this one not just for the recipes (which to amateur home cooks can be intimidating at first glance) Reading through the introduction and Bourdain's frank instructions and wisdom will instill you with the confidence you need to continue cooking and learning. But also, he not going to pump up you ego so you'll feel that you too can be a professional cook by the end of it. But I don't really want to be. Learned some great tips and a few more recipes for my tacky recipe box that sits on my coun ...more
Nicholas Aune
Aug 01, 2013 rated it liked it
In his classic testosterone fueled tough guy language Chef Anthony Bourdain shares techniques and recipes from the New York brasserie he was chef at for years. He deals out his share of tough love often calling the reader "stupid" or "numbnuts "for not knowing tricks of restaurant trade. The food is great and the book contains recipes for the titans of classic French cooking. If the reader is looking for some great recipes and doesn't mind the constant derision from an ex-junkie Old school chef, ...more
Dec 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a great cookbook, and I love his descriptions of things. Clear, simple, etc... But it doesn't get four stars because I haven't been able to use it. The circumstances of living with my parents for the time being means that I don't have the kitchen space or the headspace to cook anything so lovely as these recipes. So one day, when I get to come across this cookbook again, I will make things and then I will star it accordingly. For now, just as a fun read, it's three stars.

Also, Mr. Bourd
Emily Von pfahl
As a read, this is widely entertaining (provided you don't object to profanity and like Bourdain) and informative. As a cookbook for the home cook, despite the fact that the directions are very complete (he even lists the equipment you'll need), it doesn't really work. The recipes are complex and time consuming (some requiring multiple days of work), and involve pricey ingredients that aren't readily available unless you live in a fairly large metropolitan area. I'm very glad I didn't buy it, bu ...more
Afiq Asyran
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
I love the introduction by Bourdain himself in first few pages of Les Halles Cookbook. I enjoy it as much as I enjoy reading Kitchen Confidential over and over again especially the part How to Cook Like Pros. And he elaborate that subject in the beginning of this book, Part A, B and C. From what you need to have in the kitchen, how to prepare your mise en place, stocks, the basic. The recipes (France Cooking) looks nice, easy to cook and most importantly feasible technique in preparing it to mak ...more
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: aspiring cooks
I really enjoyed reading this cookbook. It isn't very often that a cookbook causes me to laugh out loud. ("Fine. Don't make your own breadcrumbs. I feel sorry for your victims/guests.") Most of the recipes are surprisingly easy. I still have no idea where to buy oxtails and I'm not sure I could eat gelatinous calves foot, but I'm confident that I could cook them if necessary. I particularly liked the way he narrated each recipe, as if he was looking over your shoulder to make sure. I'm going to ...more
May 24, 2012 rated it liked it
After reading through this cookbook, I would not believe the hype about Bourdain. Yes, these are wonderful French recipes, but there is nothing innovative and new about them. They are the classics, which is wonderful, but these are all ones already in my collection. It would be a good book for someone who may not have any French cookbooks. The photographs are gorgeous and the butcher paper used in the design and layout is fun. This is a better book for a fan of Bourdain than it is for a serious ...more
Lane Hinson
Mar 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: already-read
Yes, only I would have a cook book sitting in my living room on my coffee table.

A good read full of plenty of useful hints, techniques and some great recipes. Many of them are classic french but are a lot easier to get through than Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which I found to be a little bit dated. It's also filled with plenty of anecdotes, funny witticisms and classic Bourdain instructions. If you're just starting to try and recreate a good boueff bourginon or a cassoule
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Anthony Bourdain is the author of the novels Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo, in addition to the megabestsellers Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour.
His work has appeared in the New York Times and the New Yorker, and he is a contributing authority for Food Arts magazine. He is the host of the popular Emmy and Peabody Award winning television show Parts Unknown.
More about Anthony Bourdain...

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