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Bouley Bakery Birthday Dinner Report

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We finally made it to Bouley Bakery last evening for my birthday dinner and it was terrific. I kept waiting for something to go wrong, but it never did. The service was warm and efficient, without making us feel rushed, the bread was just as good as it could possibly be, and the food was simply great.

We had a 6:30 reservation and arrived about 15 minutes early. The host at the door was a little flustered because the heating system was blowing cool air into the restaurant, but took our coats and led us to our table within two minutes of our arrival.

I was slightly disappointed that there was only a degustation menu available, rather than the a la carte, but there were enough selections in each of the four courses to make both my husband and me happy. While we studied the menu, we were presented with a tasty little lagniappe of crab meat with cucumber and tomato coulis. We ordered a bottle of Pomerol, which was full and round and easy to drink.

Appetizers: I ordered the “grilled Italian eggplant and goat cheese terrine with aged balsamic vinegar” and my husband had the “sashimi of tuna with shaved fennel, spicy marinade.” The tuna was excellent, but the eggplant and goat cheese terrine was remarkable.

Fish course: mine was the “roasted black bass with artichokes, braised celery, aromatic sauce,” and his was “day boat Chatham lobster with chipolini onions, black trompette, Thai clementine sauce.” Again, both really good, but we both agreed the bass was a winner.

Entrees: there were only two so my husband had the “organic breast of chicken with French green lentils, Cape Cod cranberries, spinach puree” and I had the “rack and loin of lamb with brussel sprout leaves, Italian chestnut, glazed baby carrots and thyme sauce.” We were both happy with our dishes and glad to be there. I noticed that there were no salt and pepper shakers on the table, nor was there anyone running around with a big pepper grinder. And never did we miss it—everything that came to our table was perfectly seasoned.

Dessert: another lagniappe came before the desserts we’d ordered—“cantaloupe soup with pear, passion fruit and organic green apple sourbets.” This was to refresh our palates for dessert! What we ordered was, for my husband, “hot chocolate souffle with chocolate sorbet, vanilla and prune armagnac ice creams” and, for me, “coconut macaroon with passion fruit cream, fresh raspberries and strawberry sorbet.” These were followed by a few tiny chocolates (one in the shape of a mouse, with a ribbon tail, and another made to resemble a penguin), some miniature butter cookies, etc.

At some point between the second course and the third, the heat began to work. Or perhaps it was the Pomerol. At any rate, from start to finish, dinner was perfect and I would definitely go again whenever the opportunity arises. I'm glad I didn't let all the negative postings here keep me from going. Ya gotta figure there's a pretty good reason for those 4 stars...

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  1. Glad your birthday dinner there was so different from mine. I guess it was too early for everything to have fallen apart yet.

    1. "...and prune armagnac ice creams..."

      This brought back the fondest memories of Berthillon, a tiny ice-cream shop on Ile St. Louis in Paris.

      Does anyone recall the French name for this flavor?

      1 Reply
      1. re: AHR

        Should anyone care, it looks like the name is "agenaise." It's amazing what can be found on the web these days (see link below).

        Link: http://tango.cetp.ipsl.fr/1publi/23wi...

      2. I just had my birthday dinner at Bouley last night. I had never eaten there before.

        Pure heaven.

        The squab with foie gras and brussels sprouts is a *must*. The serving of foie gras is amazingly generous.

        I used to live on the Ile de Ste. Louis in Paris, just around the corner from Berthillon. Therefore I can tell you with complete certainty that the pear sorbet and prune armangac (agenoise) ice cream is *better at Bouley*.

        And the ice-cream shovel (as Judith Martin, aka Ms. Manners, calls it) was extremely cute!