My final night in NYC, we went to Cafe Boulud after taking a stroll through Central Park. We arrived to a packed restaurant, but due to our large party size, we ended up in a room towards the back of the restaurant. Service was spectacular - they really took care of us, and our head waiter was willing to make accommodations and suggestions. As with the previous meals, we had multiple courses, and unlike the night before, I was able to hit all the right choices. We started with a mushroom soup with a truffle oil, which I devoured quickly. Having missed on the fish the night before, I played it a little safer and went with a piece of steak, which was done to perfection and just was an awesome piece of meat. I struggled on the dessert - molten chocolate cake or apple strudel with brandy ice cream. When I told the waiter I wish I could have the ice cream with the cake, he said no problem and made it happen. It was a great ending to a great meal. The walk back to the Grand Central Hyatt along Madison avenue was a great way to get the blood flowing again as well.
How was I supposed to know this is one of Barbara Walters' favorite restaurants? Or that it is one of the hottest tables around? Well, I didn't. I stumbled in at lunch, and could hardly believe my luck. No waiting, and a table with a View! Turns out that Daniel Boulud, the head chef, comes from a family of chefs in France, and has now become Bon Appetit's honoree. He has put together a stunning menu in beautiful surroundings.
I just wouldn't try to eat dinner here...
Favorite Dish I had the Moroccan spiced duck, which was astonishing.
This restaurant is located between Madison and Fifth Avenues, right off Central Park. The first thing I noticed was they had about 6 tables on the sidewalk, which immeditaly suggested it was more casual than Daniel. Thats a good thing. Most of the men were in business suits as were the women. However, I wore jeans, a blazer, and some nice shoes which was appropriate according to the maitre d' whom I had spoken to on the phone while making my reservation. The ambiance in the room was basic, upscale, and neat.
As soon as I sat down, the server brought out a sample tablespoon of tuna tartare, that was delicious. Then another server came by with a basket of different breads: from mini baguettes to raisin filled wheat muffins.
As I was looking over the menu, I realized The menu, which changes frequently, is divided into four sections: La Tradition (classic country cooking), La Saison (seasonal dishes), Le Potager (vegetarian choices), and Le Voyage (world cuisine). The first appetizer arrived and my white asparagus with risotto was superb. Felt transported back to Paris eating this.
After ordering, my tiny entree came later, which was the lamb trio. The portions on both the appetizer and entree seemed unduly small, even by new york french restaurant standards. For example, there were like 5 teaspoon slices of lamb in my entree (along with two other types of lamb). I was still very hungry after eating both the appetizer and entree.
When the desserts arrived, they were so huge they were fit for a truck driver. Hmm....
Overall a good experience, but not a restaurant I will return to. With one glass of wine for two people, the total bill came with a 20% tip came to about $250.
Favorite Dish Ratings:
Zagats 2006: 27/30 food
New York Times: 3/4 stars
Michelin 2006: 1/3 stars
What stuck me as special was the understated yet elegant ambience. The food was absolutely delicious - everything from salad to coffee was again perfect. There didn't seem anything that needed alteration, including the wonderful service. Then I noticed the really interesting crowd; again, understated elegance, but something that could be expected by Hollywood casting for a spectrum of ages and styles, but all absolutely perfect in understated but stylish dress and manners. The whole experience left me relaxed and happy. A great New York experience. Moderate (for NY) prices.
The restaurant was packed when we got in. Although there were a lot of people, it didn't seem to look overcrowded, just enough to get the people to feel comfortable and happy. We were seated right away, although one of my friends was not there yet, so we could sit at the table, drinking some Kir Royale while waiting for her. The service was excellent and professional but friendly at the same time, it didn't seem to give any aura of pompousness which is typical in highly acclaimed restaurants in New York City. I was overwhelmed by the way the dishes are plated as well as the taste of the food. They are all well seasoned, although I would expect the menu items to be more exciting, since this restaurant belongs to Daniel Boulud, so I had a very high expectation coming into this restaurant.
Favorite Dish The menu items were divided into five sections, La Tradition (classic french), La Saison (seasonal), Le Potager (vegetarian), Le Voyage (fusion) and there is another one that I forgot what it was called, but it was a separate piece of paper and if I'm not mistaken, it's the summer specials menu. Some of the best dishes I tried was one of the summer menu, which was the lobster chowder and the porchetta, which was an italian inspired dish of pork cooked and stuffed back in its skin. The pea soup was great and fresh, although I thought season it a bit more with salt and pepper. The monkfish that I had was cooked to perfection, because it wasn't rubbery but tender and juicy. For desserts, we had the chocolate souffle, petit four and a chef's selection of cheeses. The cheses really blew me away, because actually none of us ordered the chese course, but because of a mistake, they gave that to us for free. It ended up to be one of the best things I had at the restaurant.
Wonderful place. Seems a bit plain at first but the food is wonderful. The prices are in the 30s for main courses and teens for the other courses. I thought the food was excellent and it made for quite the lunch date. It is supposed to be considered the second rate restaurant to Daniel but the food is anything but that.
Favorite Dish I had the Mushroom soup, the Med Rouget, and a pear tart. Fabulous food.