Bar Boulud

December 12, 2010 -  Daniel Boulud has many award winning restaurants around the world and I really wanted to try one of his restaurants while in New York City.  I am intrigued by him for a number of reason, one being is that he is from Lyon, France, the gastronomic capital of the world.  He has five restaurants in the city - they include Daniel, Café Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne, Bar Boulud, and DBGB Kitchen & Bar.  

The restaurant I really wanted to try was Daniel. The 2011 Zagat's guide touts it as "perfection on a plate."  Perfection; however, comes at an average cost of approximately $140.00 per person. I may have considered making reservations at Daniel had this been our only evening to dine out in the city, but I was already way over my "dining out" budget for the month (and nothing new here - I'm always over budget).  I chose, instead, Bar Boulud, his casual, more affordable bistro, located at 1900 Broadway, across from Manhattan's Lincoln Center. I made reservations on a few days in advance. Amy was game to try this restaurant because I wanted to try it, but I could tell that she would have preferred to go somewhere else. Throughout our stay in the city, she kept suggesting alternative restaurants for our Sunday evening dinner.
First, bottom line up front - I've just come to realize that I don't like terrines or pates. 
Our first plate Amy and I ordered to share was "lapin de garrigue" or provençal pulled rabbit, carrot, zucchini and herbs. It's the square looking thing in the picture below.  I had not a clue of exactly what I was ordering.  Because the word "pulled" was in the description, I was expecting something hot and similar to "pulled" pork barbecue but made with rabbit instead.  I know, silly me.  I was quite surprised to get the cold square looking thing that tasted like cold roasted chicken with vegetables in gelled chicken juice and fat.  The only nice thing I can say about this dish is its beauty and color. 
The second thing we ordered was "tourte de caille." It consisted of vermont quail, berkshire pork, foie gras, apricots, and sicilian pistachio, all in a pastry crust. This one is the triangular looking thing next to the square looking thing in the picture above. The pastry was served cold and I only liked the foie gras - which tasted very buttery, smooth, and creamy. The foie gras is the cream-colored looking stuff almost in the middle of the pastry crust.  Overall, I did not enjoy the tourte de caille.
Next we ordered the "velouté de champignons" which consisted of a mushroom velouté, porcini confit and chive crème fraîche" or to describe it more simply - "cream of mushroom soup."  The soup was served hot, it was thick, and very tasty.  I enjoyed this very much.
After the soup, we shared a plate of aïoli with olive oil poached cod and carolina shrimp, garlic dip, quail eggs, vegetables, and mussels. Again, everything was served cold. Amy really enjoyed this dish and it inspired her to recreate it for her next dinner party. I, on the other hand, did not like or enjoy this dish at all. The only tasty part was the garlic aioli. 
Finally, we ordered the pommes frites.  I thoroughly enjoyed the frites and they were especially delicious dipped in the garlic aioli that was served with our previous dish.
Final note:  The service was incredibly slow and the wait staff did not offer helpful suggestions. If I ever go back to Bar Boulud, which I doubt I will because the service was horrendous, I plan to order some of the more traditional bistro dishes, like coq au vin or the black angus steak with fries, instead of the terrines and pates. I can attest that Bar Boulud is not "perfection on a plate." 


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