This is the second post in the Quick Spring Weekend to New York series. Other posts in this series include Le Bernardin, Lunch Tasting Menu.
My memory of the one meal I had at Daniel Boulud's flagship restauant, Daniel, is nothing short of extraordinary.It's tricky because, I'm not a huge fan of long, drawn out French fancy dinners (despite what it might look like on this blog!). I'm naturally a restless person and sitting still for so long makes me sort of antsy. Unlike Bryan (who happily sat by himself at a fancy restaurant in London recently for a 5-hour meal), I could hardly stand dining alone for more than two hours on a recent dinner in Montreal .The timing of every single course at Daniel was flawless. Furthermore, the food was phenomenal, and the dishes were paced just right, so that I actually felt perfectly fine at the end of the meal. I felt balanced - not too stuffed at all - despite the fact I had eaten every single bite of my 10+ course tasting menu.
Ever since that meal I've had the utmost respect for Daniel Boulud and have always been curious to try some of his other restaurants. Daniel Boulud has an empire in New York, between Cafe Boulud, db Bistro Moderne, Bar Boulud, Epicerie Boulud, and Boulud Sud.I was drawn to Boulud Sud largely because it wasn't French or American (which, quite frankly, bores me sometimes). I love Mediterranean cuisine, and I liked the idea that Boulud Sud draws inspiration from the whole Mediterranean region - everything from Italy, Spain, and Greece to Turkey, Israel, and North Africa.
We came here on a late Saturday morning to have brunch with friends who lived in the Upper West Side, just a 2 minute walk from Boulud Sud's 64th street location.
I was surprised the place was pretty empty at 11AM, though it did fill up as the day went on. Maybe New Yorkers just wake up late?
The menu at Boulud Sud has a mix of brunch-like items, appetizers, entrees, and many different small plates. Sharing is encouraged, and we ended up just ordering a bunch of dishes that looked good.
One of my favorites was the Peekytoe Crab Tartine which consisted of a seaweed rye toast topped with Peekytoe crab, urchin (uni), a green olive, lemon cream, sea salt, and radish ($21). It was a beautiful combination and a lovely way to begin the meal.
The Octopus a la Plancha consisted of octopus legs grilled on a metal plate and tossed with Marcona almonds, oranges, and arugula in Jerez vinegar, a sherry vinegar from Spain ($22).
I loved the size and shape of the Pistachio French Toast ($18). It was eggy, crispy, and overall delicious. It came with touches of North African /Middle Eastern flavors, such as a pistachios, raspberry marmalade, and rose chantilly (whipped cream).
The Fire Roasted Pizza ($21) came with a huge pile of arugula and farm fresh organic eggs from Raven and Boar Farm in Chatham, New York. Perhaps it's because we have so much excellent pizza in Boston, I wasn't particularly blown away by this pizza. I mean, it was fine, but it didn't stand out.
I believe this was the Moroccan "Shaksouka" ($19) which consists of farm fresh eggs cooked in a skillet with a harissa-tomato Sauce, za’atar, and feta cheese. It was really good.
We got a side order of Patatas Bravas, which consisted of seasoned smashed baby potatoes (I'm guessing paprika, chili powder, and salt?), pan fried, and served in a tomato-based sauce topped with a creamy garlic aioli. This was tasty and definitely a bit addictive!
The Charred Broccoli Rabe ($9) side dish was unwieldy to eat. It was fine but not particularly exciting. Adding pepperoncini and crispy shallots on top was a nice touch, but overall it was less interesting than most of the other dishes. I guess that's how it goes with side dishes.
Boulud Sud is a great restaurant, and I would expect nothing less from such a world class chef. We had a lovely time tasting a variety of Mediterranean dishes while catching up in the bright and sunny dining room. The service was good, the food was enjoyable, and overall we had a great experience. I wouldn't hesitate to come back. New Yorkers are fortunate to have access to so much good dining.
But guess what?
Boston is getting some Daniel Boulud too.
Daniel Boulud is opening his first restaurant in Boston this fall. It will be a Bar Boulud, which will open in the Mandarin Hotel in September. It will be interesting to see how it fares here. After all, fellow Michelin three star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten just closed his Boston restaurant Market this past year.
Hopefully Daniel Boulud will figure out a way to win over the hearts of Bostonians with his first restaurant here.
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