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Bouley


glenn
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2 of the desserts: pineapple carpacio with cilantro and lime sorbet  and, sweet pleasures, are both signatures desserts from Pierre Hermé.  The last one, even has the same name: Plaisirs sucrés ( you can see a picture of the dessets on Hermé's ''Plaisirs Sucrés'' book...

Is there a pastry chef at Bouley?

Patrice Demers

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canrales, so sorry but I'm glad you will (most judiciously) ponder before assessing. Thanks for the menu. :wink:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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PaulaJ--thank you for the followup.  I just noticed it today and am grateful. How was the carpaccio plated?

Thank you as well, Cabrales and others, for the reviews and previews.  I've posted to this thread and followed it with great interest. I guess there might be a fine line between cuisine with lyricism and moderation and what might charitably be described at "Bouley lite."

A question, though Cabrales--would you mind revealing a bit behind your decision to be judicious in this case and not post a more involved summary of your first experience at the new Bouley?  After all--you are very familiar with previous incarnations of Bouley and certain similarities and differences must be so stark as to render them practically objective rather than open to a more personal, subjective evaluation or dependent on multiple visits?

Larger issues for me--which may not hold as much interest for others:  is Bouley trying to make due without a top-level pastry chef or taking the lead himself for dessert production? what compromises or concessions are being made creatively, artistically or compositionally as a result of this decision--and how much currently is inspired by or directly lifted from Herme, Bill Yosses and Adria? Are customers being shortchanged and is the food media in a position to notice or care?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Steve Klc -- On why I chose not to post a detailed review, let's just say that it would not have been pretty. For a chef whom I thought was capable of much, Bouley (or his team) did not offer a dinner that impressed in *any material* way. The wait was an issue (around 45 minutes), and the service (except at the maitre d'/captain level) was poor. Finally, I only had an appetizer, entree and dessert and not the prix fixe menu which would have permitted more extensive tasting.

You are accurate that I am familiar with Bouley's prior work. However, I have not taken, and do not take, notes or photograph at Bouley.  Since my visits to "old Bouley", which I deem the relevant point for comparison (as the bakery was just not the same), my cuisine preferences and expectations have changed in a material way. Thus, it's hard for me to gauge my old assessments of excellence against conclusions based on my subjective preferences today.   :wink: That's perhaps a long-winded way of saying that I think I have changed considerably as a diner since the "old Bouley" was operating.

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In the first of several planned forays marking our 25th wedding anniversary, my wife and I went down to Bouley for lunch yesterday.

As others have done so well describing in detail the exceptional quality and value of the tasting menu at lunch, I will spare readers (and especially myself) a recapitulation.

I do, however, have a couple of observations.

The apples are a brilliant piece of modern, multisensory design. On entering the vestibule, one is first aware of the sweet smell of the apples, and then, with a glance to the left, sees the racks holding them. To me this is analogous to a successful culinary conception wherein the senses are engaged serially, and then together. And it all happens before one enters the restaurant. For me, the most delightful arrival experience at a restaurant in a very long time.

We were seated in the original room, at a table for four, by the windows. The room was about 3/4 full at 1:00 pm. I bitched briefly about the way the paintings were framed, hung and lit, but my wife kicked me in the leg and that was that. Otherwise, the room was perfectly pleasant.

When I made the reservation, I told the person on the phone what the occasion was. Every person addressing us in the restaurant for the first time wished us a happy anniversary (except maybe the bread guy.) A complimetary glass of champagne appeared immediately.

The food was nearly perfect, and I say nearly because there must have been something to pick on, but I can't think what it was. There were no eccentric leaps of imagination, no discomfiting inventions. Between us, we ate everything on the menu. It is worth commenting that the fish was cooked to perfection, including some items for which it is difficult to do so, such as skate, and squid. A chicken poached in buttermilk was worth eating chicken in a restaurant for. Desserts were nice, if not of the quality of the savory foods. A rice pudding topped with "ten-fruit sorbet" (why would anyone do that, except to use up fruit?) had "Happy Anniversary" in beautiful chocolate script along the rim of the plate.

We allowed the sommelier to serve us each a half glass of wine with each course. In the context of my wine knowledge, I can say that they all tasted good with the food. We did keep notes, just for the record.

We were literally escorted from our table to the door, where several people of indeterminate function were present to wish us a good day.

$135. with all the wine and a very generous tip. To me, an insanely good bargain.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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The hopefully-still $35 tasting menu is a bargain for weekend lunches too, with certain reservations being available potentially with limited notice. Despite the disappointing nature of my first meal at the "new" Bouley, I am eager to take advantage of the lunch prix fixe soon on a weekend.   :wink:

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Wonderful post, Robert. Could you elaborate briefly on the buttermilk poached chicken?

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Jinmyo, the chicken is listed on the menu as: "Pennsylvania All Natural Chicken with Turnip-Date Puree, Spring Vegetables and Brussels Sprouts".

The Keystone State provenance of the bird added nothing to my visualization of the dish, nor did it help my appreciation of it once it was set on the table. I find this sort of description odd, something someone with the title Menu Editor could help with.

The chicken consisted of four or five slices, each about 3/8 inch thick, of breast meat. The interior muscle had been removed.

The turnips and dates were a logical match. The puree tasted of both the squash and the fruit. Together, they were an enrichment to the chicken, which itself had been nudged off its usual neutral position as a background for just about anything by the buttermilk treatment, which resulted in meat with a noticeably smoother texture, as well as the characteristic slightly sweet/tart taste of the (presumably somewhat reduced) liquid. I bake bread with buttermilk from time to time, and it does the same thing. It's subtle, but it makes a difference.

My wife had eaten all the vegetables before we switched plates, so I can't add any more there. A large pastrybagged apostrophe of whipped potatoes completed the plate.

I forgot to add in my initial post that the bread at Bouley is, regretably, not of the best quality. This is because they insist on baking it themselves, and on using commercial yeast instead of sourdough, or even a biga. They offer a variety of novelties, such as pistachio, garlic, apple, but they are no substitute for plain, high quality bread.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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I forgot to add in my initial post that the bread at Bouley is, regretably, not of the best quality. This is because they insist on baking it themselves, and on using commercial yeast instead of sourdough, or even a biga. They offer a variety of novelties, such as pistachio, garlic, apple, but they are no substitute for plain, high quality bread.

Hmmm, I thought the bread was pretty fine indeed.

beachfan

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Hmmm, I thought the bread was pretty fine indeed.

In a real sense, Beachfan, all that matters is that you enjoyed it, but Bouley's bread has never been in the first rank; strange, I grant you for a restaurant that carried "Bakery" in its name for some time.

This is my own special obsession. I'm afraid my standards are pretty strict.

What in particular did you like about it, and where else in New York have you enjoyed the bread?

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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What in particular did you like about it, and where else in New York have you enjoyed the bread?

I've only been to the new Bouley once; what I liked were:

Flavor, texture, interesting variations.  The novelties so to speak.

I haven't had much bread from NY bakeries, when I  moved to California 23 years ago, most NY bread sucked other than some brick oven sesame seed Italian bread.

My standard is Acme bread in the Bay Area. It's the best I've had in the US.  I don't find Polaine in Paris to be all that special.  In France, my favorite is Boulangerie Kayser (in the 5th).  In LA the best that's easily available is La Brea, which I regard as passable.

I was really blown away by the bread in Belgium and the Netherlands.  Rye and other hearty types.

To each, their own.

Any other votes on Bouley bread?

beachfan

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robert brown, Susan and I took in lunch at Bouley recently. Our assessments were unanimous, and not positive, relative to our expectations.  :wink:  However, the service appeared to be better than my prior visit.

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Cabrales, How unfortunate for you and your group. Will you share details with us? I'm surprised, as my wife and I enjoyed our recent lunch very much. Of course, it's possible that our sensitivities and expectations are greatly different than yours.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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Robert S -- I'm going to visit a few more times before an assessment.  :wink:  [sob, sob -- I'm hoping I will rediscover through more visits the lyricism I used to see in Bouley's cuisine.  This radical a change over time in my assessment of a cuisinier has never before befallen me. :sad:  Bouley used to be my favorite cuisinier in the US, not just in NY, and taking into account T Keller. While Bouley was never my preferred cuisinier taking into account other countries, I really liked the old, non-bakery Bouley.  My views have been shifting on restaurants, though. For example, Chanterelle was the restaurant I chose for 12/31/99, after Gotham Bar & Grill cancelled my reservation from not having sufficient clients to choose to open that evening. Yet a recent lunch visit described on the board left me feeling disappointed. A preliminary switch in the opposite direction is Cello, which I did not used to particularly like a while ago. However, a recent visit left me fairly satisfied with the cuisine and its subtlety. I will visit Cello a few more times before coming to a more concrete personal conclusion.]  

Perhaps robert brown could provide a take on our lunch?

Liza -- A weekend lunch.

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Anyone see this in Sunday's Daily News?

Bouley Bakery

120 West Broadway, near Duane St.

Failed 1

Closed 0

Critical violations 6

A cook touched a piece of fried fish with his bare hands to see if it had cooled enough. A roach was crawling on a wall above a kitchen preparation table. A tray of ham and cheese croissants was sitting at room temperature for an hour. Fifteen dead roaches were seen behind a basement refrigerator.

Most recent inspection: Renamed Bouley Restaurant. Passed on April 17 with two critical violations.

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I'd appreciate members' input on why the following is a violation: "A cook touched a piece of fried fish with his bare hands to see if it had cooled enough."  Wouldn't manual inspection of cooked food be a routine aspect of cooking, presumably?  :confused:

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cabrales, definitely.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Below is an excerpt from Bouley's website:

"[New] Bouley is reminiscent of David's first restaurant [old Bouley] but **reflects David's world travels,** growth and experiences since the original restaurant closed in 1996. The new Bouley picks up where the other left off and promises to continue taking diners to new and exciting culinary heights."

Do members have any reactions to the above excerpt, including on the question of whether Bouley's cuisine has benefitted or not from his travels?  :wink:

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Intrigued by Robert Schonfeld’s review of a tasting lunch at Bouley, I felt an urge to fulfill my childhood reminiscence of that wonderful apple smell that I experienced many years ago every time my grandmother would send me down to her den to bring up some of those apples she used to store over the winter.  The tasting menu price sounded like an extremely good deal for the quality of lunch Robert described as well.

We had, however, mixed feelings, but I can’t state that our lunch was a complete fiasco.  Where roasted salmon was exquisite, halibut was overcooked and so tough that it almost had a meat texture.  Where chicken was unimpressive, roast venison filet (which was apparently a replacement for the duck you’d find on their web site) was incredible – tender to the extent that it almost didn’t require any chewing effort.

We also had a separate order of soft-shell crabs, which was quite disappointing.  Though crisp on the outside, they were somewhat mushy and lacking the expected sweetness on the inside, and covered with an overly spicy, sour sauce, reminiscent of Tabasco, which unpleasantly shifted the accent away from the crabs.

The palate refreshment that consisted of an assortment of sorbets didn’t fulfill the expectation of a slightly sweet and more acidic taste to prepare you for the desserts that followed.  It was too sweet and, I’d say, rather another dessert than refreshment.  I can’t pinpoint exactly what was the difference, but the hot Valrhona chocolate soufflé wasn’t even close to the divine taste of the soufflé we had tried at Blue Hill recently.  I also thought that the wonderful arrangement of multiple one scoop ice-creams accompanying the soufflé would have been perfect had it been presented as a separate dessert but sadly only undermined the main accent of the dessert  - chocolate soufflé.

As Beachfan stated, “A lovely assortment…” of “Florentines, cookies and several indescribable delights, including one filled with pistachio parfait” was a very nice touch at the end of the dinner, indeed.

The interior looked lovely and predisposed one to a cozy lunch or dinner.  The service in our case was excellent, even though I have noticed that some of the orders were stopped from being delivered to the wrong table by a captain at the last minute.  The contingent seemed to be composed of a mostly presentable, suit-oriented crowd of older generation gentleman and ladies.  We didn't find the food uniformly excellent, but lunch was certainly interesting and a bargain at $35 for the tasting excluding wine and crabs.

Robert Schonfeld's review

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I have now had 3 meals there over the last 3 months with disappointing results on the last two meals.  The 1st meal was the galvanizing meal that brought me back the last two times.  One of the better meals I have eaten in my life.  Does anyone have any insight as to why the kitchen seems to be like a switch either on/off?

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