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PaulaJK

The Expanding Bouley Empire

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After enjoying Broadway's newly opened A Tale of Two Cities, we were off to Bouley's Secession. Also newly opened, it occupies the former site of Danube.

The decor has been lightened and brightened resulting in a more casual feel but any former visitor to Danube will recognize the basic bones. We were stopping only for a libation but read their menu. It is impressively extensive with sections for charcuterie, grilled items, roasted items, pastas, salads,etc. Several Asian fusion items were included. It struck me as 'bistro plus Bouley' and I look forward to dining there.

David Bouley was present and when we inquired about the progress of his new endeavor, he graciously offered to take us on a tour. The new property occupies two floors of a building on the corner of Duane & Hudson, across from Secession.

Chef Bouley delivered a detailed explanation of every item now in place...3,900 apples will reside in the foyer..as you enter there will be a lounge, sans bar...everything was shipped in from France in four huge containers...the stone floors arrived from Burgundy in large pieces & were cut and placed on site...the stone of the walls is identical to that being used at Versailles. The wall and hanging oil paintings were done by the same artist as in the original restaurant. The tables & chairs are in place. The accessory furniture again is of French woods and made to order here in the USA. Beyond the main dining is the 'library' whose floor is beautifully patterned with thousands of pieces of wood and whose ceiling has a kitchy feel that makes you smile. There are beautiful antique chandeliers throughout..some represent the work of a brief liason between Italian and French craftsmen....another, on the stairs leading to the lower level, looks Venetian but is actually French with what looked like glass to me, really made of polished stones. The lower level has an enormous wine celler, the bathrooms and a room for private parties w. its separate entrance. On both levels of the restaurant there are vaulted celings, artfully painted and truly exquisite. And most beautiful of all, are the many ancient wood doors. The kitchen is huge and shiney and magnificent! I'm repeating only what I can recall so please cut me a little slack here for I was truly overwhelemed by the breath and depth of the information. Chef's Bouley's obsessive attention to detail, intensity and passion

were palpable! I asked about the new menu and Chef Bouley said that it will emphasize produce, have some known and some new items and have "his hands on it". No opening date yet...but "soon".

We then dined at Bouley. We admire Bouley's approach to a tasting menu because it offers approx. 3 choices in most categories, a flexibility not offered at many other venues. But we were in a special mood and opted for the 'surprise' tasting menu. The waiter would give no hints, implying that surprises were to come. He asked only about any food restrictions; Ours was ltd to goat cheese. We were excited by the surprise element .....but ultimately disappointed because there really is very little surprise. Essentially they delivered the regular tasting menu [the one we decided not to have...and now you don't even get to make that choice!], supplemented with lobster & foie gras courses. I had anticipated something a bit more unique, including at dessert time when the two offerings were those of the reg tasting menu. No original thinking here! Nonetheless the dishes were delicious with a toss up for favorite between the cod with a truffle sauce and the excellent lobster. I must admit that that when the lamb [an item on the reg tasting menu...and now since it was a surprise they hadn't asked how we would like it cooked] arrived with the goat cheese gnocchi. I lost my respect for all of this implied specialness. Either deliver a special menu or don;t offer this option at all.


Edited by PaulaJK (log)

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WWD.com has a first look at the new Bouley. It is eye-popping. Heck, I was impressed just with the little bit of it I could see when I peered in the windows a couple of weeks ago. I am not sure if this city's current generation of critics will be able to appreciate it, or if they'll walk in the door laden with cynicism.

But you can't eat décor. The question is whether Bouley can still get it done in the kitchen, especially when juggling so many projects at once. I've had the tasting menu at the current Bouley a couple of times—not the "surprise" menu that PaulaJK referred to. It is obviously very good, but I've never been transported. Service, too, always seems just a step behind what a four-star restaurant should be about.

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I am looking forward to dining at the new Bouley and Secession. I've always been a big fan of both Bouley and Danube. You were so lucky to have David Bouley personally give you a tour! Do you know when the new Bouley opens?

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Bouley said that he will open the new place after Secession is running smoothly, which he thought would take 2-3 weeks. That assumes he has all the permits. As of now, he is playing it pretty close to the vest. If it doesn't open by the end of October, I would say something isn't quite right.

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It is going to be interesting to see how the level of opulence described by PaulaJK and others will go over in the current economic environment. I wish him luck, but would not want to be an investor right now.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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It is going to be interesting to see how the level of opulence described by PaulaJK and others will go over in the current economic environment. I wish him luck, but would not want to be an investor right now.

Bouley has been asked several times, and won't even confirm who his investors are, or if he has any. (Obviously he must.)

I've said this in a number of forums: there are still people flocking to upscale places. Per Se, Daniel and Le Bernardin, for instance, are pretty solidly booked. Bouley has enough of a reputation that the same type of crowd will certainly give him a shot. There is less margin for error at such places, but diners will come if he's got the goods.


Edited by oakapple (log)

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I've said this in a number of forums: there are still people flocking to upscale places. Per Se, Daniel and Le Bernardin, for instance, are pretty solidly booked. Bouley has enough of a reputation that the same type of crowd will certainly give him a shot. There is less margin for error at such places, but diners will come if he's got the goods.

What really remains to be seen is if he can up his 4 **** game, both in food and in foh; recent reports seem to suggest that this is going to be the biggest challenge.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Tasty Travails - My Blog

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Bouley points out that he opened the original Bouley four weeks after Black Friday in 1987. It did alright.

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Bouley points out that he opened the original Bouley four weeks after Black Friday in 1987.  It did alright.

Indeed and I hope this and other restaurants continue to do well, though Black Friday, so far, pales in comparison to the potential impact and scale of this economic situation.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Actually, now that I think of it, it was a Monday.

That's true, Black Friday was something else. :laugh: Friday would have killed the entire weekend's dining. At least with Monday, they had a chance to rebound by the following weekend. :raz:


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Not to mention that, for Bouley to have opened a restaurant four weeks after Black Friday, he'd have to be even older than rich.

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As long as this is the place to discuss Bouley 3.0's pre-opening activities, I had an interesting exchange with the reservationist today. Right now, they're taking reservations like normal, with the assumption that meals booked relatively far in advance may well be in the new restaurant. What is interesting is that the reservationist couldn't tell me when this transition would take place.

This strikes me as odd, as even in the best case scenario, it'll take them at least a day or two to transition the staff from the old location to the new one. Even if that goes perfectly, you'd expect both the BOH and FOH would need some time to get used to their new surroundings. In this transition time, what's going to happen to the restaurant's reservations? You'll effectively have two restaurants, but neither one operational. Strange.

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It sounds like I'll be waiting a while to make a reservation until they officially move. I have been a big fan of the white room (even though most people prefer the red room). Does anyone know whether the new location will be one room or whether there will be multiple rooms?

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The 'new' Bouley appears to be one room [no left, right/white/red] with

a library area in the back. That area is not separate from the main diningroom as far as I could discern.

An opening date has not been set as they are awaiting additional materials from some artisans...but the end of October seemed to be the goal.

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An opening date has not been set as they are awaiting additional materials from some artisans.

FloFab says they're opening to the public October 24. Once it's in the Times, it's tough to walk it back, so I think it will happen.
Edited by oakapple (log)

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From a Zagat Mailing in case anyone is interested:

New Bouley Restaurant Exclusive!

October 21, 22, 23

Secession, 30 Hudson St.

(bet. Duane & Reade Sts.)

Be one of the first to check out David Bouley's just-opened TriBeCa restaurant, Secession! Zagat members get an exclusive $45, three-course, Zagat Presents prix fixe of the French- and Italian-inspired cuisine. For your chance to check out the chef's latest before anyone else, call 212-791-3771 now and mention "Zagat Presents"!

Also the menu:

http://nyjournal.squarespace.com/journal/2...n-the-menu.html

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Well, oakapple, I think he WILL walk back from the oct 24 opening date!

I just spoke to someone at his office who said it will not open tomorrow,

and that Mr. bouley is still waiting to receive something that seems

to be missing from the decor. No official opening date yet, according

to her.

Strange...


Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

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Well, oakapple, I think he WILL walk back from the oct 24 opening date!

I just spoke to someone at his office who said it will not open tomorrow,

and that Mr. bouley is still waiting to receive something that seems

to be missing from the decor. No official opening date yet, according

to her. 

Strange...

Well I just got a call confirming my resy for tonight, so I'll let you know if it's open when I get there! :huh:


AskAlexWhatToEat.com

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Well, oakapple, I think he WILL walk back from the oct 24 opening date!

I just spoke to someone at his office who said it will not open tomorrow,

and that Mr. bouley is still waiting to receive something that seems

to be missing from the decor. No official opening date yet, according

to her. 

Strange...

Besides that mysteriously missing piece of décor, there's the fact that Secession is an absolute disaster right now. Maybe it wasn't such a great idea to work on seven restaurants at once.

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I agree about Secession. Was Danube losing money? I don't see why he closed it otherwise.

Hopefully, he is putting his all into Bouley, and it will be really good. I just hope he doesn't have the finances of all his restaurants so closely linked that one failing brings them all down. I saw that happen in Philadelphia with Neil Stein. He lost two good restaurants (Striped Bass and Rouge) when Avenue B failed.

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I agree about Secession.  Was Danube losing money?  I don't see why he closed it otherwise.

Hopefully, he is putting his all into Bouley, and it will be really good.  I just hope he doesn't have the finances of all his restaurants so closely linked that one failing brings them all down.  I saw that happen in Philadelphia with Neil Stein.  He lost two good restaurants (Striped Bass and Rouge) when Avenue B failed.

Danube was definitely on the wane. And its reviews had plummeted as well. I think Secession was a response to the fact that Danube was a destination restaurant and wasn't doing that well as such. The extravagance, high price points, etc. were a problem. At its peak, I thought it was very good, but it definitely was just a shadow of its former self in the last couple of years. From what I could see, they were hoping to create a neighborhood place in Secession, that also brought in some outside traffic. The menu is designed sort of like a schizophrenic version of Balthazar, with some Italian influences added (though fewer than originally promised).

I went to Secession with my mother the other day. It was quite crowded, but not totally full. They told me it would be about 5 minutes until they could seat us, and that we should wait in the (amazingly noisy) bar/lounge area. Ten minutes later, they came by and said it should only be another 5 minutes, and made a quick apology. Ten minutes after that, the hostess was clearly avoiding eye contact, and still no sign of a seat. After 35 minutes of waiting, we left and grabbed a bite at Odeon, which was the only place still open in the area, as everything else had closed while we were waiting as Secession. For the record, I think someone new may be in the kitchen at Odeon of late, as the food has markedly improved again.

As for Secession, I think Bouley needs to take a page from his own book and do more of what is working so well at Upstairs.

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Well, oakapple, I think he WILL walk back from the oct 24 opening date!

I just spoke to someone at his office who said it will not open tomorrow,

and that Mr. bouley is still waiting to receive something that seems

to be missing from the decor. No official opening date yet, according

to her. 

Strange...

Well I just got a call confirming my resy for tonight, so I'll let you know if it's open when I get there! :huh:

Got this email today:

Dear Friends,

Bouley Restaurant, currently at 120 West Broadway, with its

signature entrance of locally grown apples, invites you to

celebrate its last week of dining before moving to its flagship location on Hudson and Duane streets. Under the deep red vaulted ceilings of the “Red Room”, or the Provence colored

crystal chandeliers of the “White Room”, Bouley will ignite

memories with dishes savored, featuring a special tasting

menu - with a hint of what’s to come at our new location!

Join us by calling the reservations’ line at 212 964 2525.

Chef David Bouley

Please visit http://davidbouley.com for up-to-date information on David Bouley restaurants and projects, including Bouley, Danube, Bouley Bakery and Market, Upstairs and Bouley Test Kitchen.

It would appear that they are still in the old Bouley for at least another week. I find it odd that at the bottom they still refer to Danube and not Secession.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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What happened at Danube is that its original chef, Mario Lohniger, left several years ago. He was never replaced by anyone of equal stature, but only by nonentities usually from within the Bouley organization. The restaurant never recovered its luster.

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