- CAFE BOULUD, 20 East 76th Street, NY NY 10021; (212) 772-2600
- TYPE: French, classic
- PRICE: $$$$$$
- QUICKVIEW: exquisite classic French cuisine, nestled in a quintessential Upper East Side scene. After eating here, you know why Mr B gets all the props, but let’s just say you definitely get what you pay for. (my wallet is feeling violated)
- SEOULDIVA SAYS: ♥♥♥♥♥ (but for $$$$$)
after owning and running a successful specialty food store in Westchester County, it’s no surprise that my parents are both huge foodies. thus, selecting a restaurant for a special occasion dinner is never an easy feat. so i was stressing where to take them for their birthdays.
but one thing i’ve learned over the years — when in doubt, GO CLASSIC.
Daniel Boulud’s reputation precedes him – he is one of the most successful restauranteurs in NYC, and he has a reputation for excellence. while his downtown burger joint was a questionable toe dipped in the casual water, i’d never eaten at any of his signature locations.
naturally, Momma & Poppa Park wanted to do the 7-course tasting menu. unfortunately, that meant the entire table had to do the tasting menu. when i told the waiter i didn’t eat meat, he said “is fish OK?” (i reluctantly acquiesced). then the waiter asked if anyone had any allergies — i told him i was allergic to dairy. his panic was palpable. LESSON LEARNED: it’s nearly impossible to be vegan at a French restaurant. anyhoo…
- the tasting menu came at a nice pace. we were seated around 9:30pm and we were done around 11:30pm.
- service was solid – attentive without being being a nuisance. plates were cleared as soon as we were done, but no hovering.
- despite me being a special needs eater, they did their very best to accommodate me, which was very much appreciated
- food presentation was impeccable and EVERY piece of meat was cooked to absolute perfection.
- the plates were classic, but didn’t seem outdated – the flavors were clean and articulate.
- the word of the day: MONEY. everyone around us were clearly rolling in it, you needed to have a fair amount of it to eat there, and everything tasted exquisitely expensive.
overall, the dinner was a tremendous success. the Parents Park were really impressed with the meal, which is not an easy accomplishment. NO complaints! but again – this is not a destination for the monetarily bashful. another lesson learned: you get what you pay for in life!
DISCLAIMER: apologies for the semi-blurry photos…i forgot my real camera so had to shoot these with my phone!
AMUSE BOUCHE: Risotto balls. unfortunately i didn’t sample these lovely delicacies, but Momma & Poppa Park enjoyed them!
COURSE 1: Oysters….needless to say, i didn’t eat this either. but apparently it was delicious….(still wanted to share the photo!)
COURSE 2: Maine Peekytoe Crab, Grab Gelée, Cauliflower, Lemon, Chives. this was an exquisite dish – there was a lovely thin layer of puff pastry wrapped around the tiny log of peekytoe crabmeat. it sat atop a bed of minced vegetables, served with puff balls and some creme fraiche.
COURSE 2 (alternative): Hamachi Crudo, radish, avocado, tomato, basil. Poppa Park ate this one…he said it was deliciously light and refreshing.
COURSE 3: Corn and potato soup with pan de mie toast with popcorn.
COURSE 3 (alternative): Eckerton Farm Tomato Gazpacho, prosciutto grissini, avocado, english cucumber, basil. this was a remarkably refreshing, light gazpacho. what really did it for me was the basil oil that was drizzled on top. swoon.
COURSE 4: Tortelloni with shaved parmesan and mushrooms.
COURSE 4 (Alternative): Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto, black summer truffles. absolutely delicious – very much appreciated that they made this alternative for me. i would have inhaled an entire plate of it. the risotto was creamy (not from dairy, naturally), but still delightfully al dente.
COURSE 5: Striped Bass en Paupiette, pommes purée, baby leeks, sauce meurette. the Parents Park had this one – it looked unbelievable, though.
COURSE 5 (alternative): Roasted Eggplant Ravioli, smoked ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, garlic confit. for my almost-vegan 5th course, they made a lovely eggplant ravioli. unfortunately they forgot that ricotta cheese is…well, dairy. fortunately, i was able to scoop the dollops off to the side of the plate.
COURSE 6: Cherry Glazed Duck Breast, pommes amandine, wilted arugula, cipollini onions, sauce au poivre. this was a mini version of their regular menu item – my parents were bowled over at how beautiful and delicious the dish was. the duck breast was cooked to perfection. very pleased.
COURSE 6 (alternative): Poached Maine Halibut, poblano peppers, shiitake mushrooms cashews coconut-red curry broth. for my last savory dish, i got a delicious red curry halibut. clearly, this falls under the more contemporary category of dishes, and to that, i say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” i’m not a fan of watered-down anything. as someone who personally loves a bold, rich-flavored curry, this didn’t cut it for me. however, i will say the fish was PERFECTLY cooked.
COURSE 7: Milk Chocolate Coffee Parfait, jivara mousse, feuilletine crisp, nougat ice cream. by this point of the evening, i said “screw it” and just ate whatever they put in front of me (clearly any hopes of maintaining any type of vegan diet was completely foiled). not really being a sweets person, this dessert was adequate. if anything, it was too sweet, which was unexpected for a mousse parfait dish.
Dark Chocolate Mousse, pistachio crémeux, chocolate sablé, pistachio ice cream. this was an unexpected favorite at our table. my mom & I (not normally huge chocolate freaks), adored this. there was a delicious pistachio cakey-thingee underneath the sheet of chocolate…and the actual mousse was perfectly rich without being too decadent, and NOT TOO SWEET!