Café Boulud

September 2, 2006

The area bounded by 65th Street and 96th Street between Fifth and Third Avenues must be one of the very wealthiest in the world, with a combination of old money, new money, foreign money, big brand-new money etc.  So it is a mystery why there is only one restaurant in it with a Zagats rating above 23.  The Café Boulud (Zagats rating: 27) has the area’s only Michelin star.   And it was also somewhat of a mystery why we had not been there for several years; as it is a fifteen minute stroll from our apartment.  And so we went for dinner on Sunday, August 13, 2006.  There were a few tables set up on the sidewalk along 76th Street between Madison and Fifth, but we took a table inside.

The danielphoto.jpgformula of the menu is still as it was set up by Daniel Boulud when he moved his main signature restaurant, Daniel, from this location.  There are four theme menus with several choices each, but one can mix menus:  Tradition, Season, Vegetables and Travel. Linda had the sweetbreads, the rabbit and the Bing cherries.  I had the seafood pasta, the Macedonian lamb and a dessert special of coconut pannacotta with mango and passion fruit.  We had a bottle of 2003 Knight Valley (California) Pinot Noir which would have been great twenty years from now.   Linda’s choices were quite disappointing with unexpected and inappropriate tomato sauce on the sweetbreads and too much on the fairly tasteless rabbit. The promised asparagus and artichokes, which should not have been on the seasonal summer menu to begin with, did not appear.  And it was all oversalted.  My courses were quite good, but not great, and I had to fish the little chilies out of the lamb after discovering the first one.  Both desserts were okay.

The staff is of a wide variety of nationalities and is quite efficient, although lacking charm and any apparent understanding of French cuisine.  The clientele is also widely varied.  It wasn’t awful, but I think we will continue to head south of 23rd Street when we want an outstanding restaurant meal in NYC.  

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