Longish Bouley rave from last night...w/a nod to Chanterelle
Had a great experience at dinner last night at Bouley so I feel compelled to share it. Had eaten there once before & had the tasting menu, decided to go ala carte this time. Had a glass of champagne to start, amuse bouche was beet, cherry & salmon caviar chilled it was suprisingly good & an omen of things to come. Ordering w/my eyes instead of my stomach I ordered the Phllo crusted shrimp, Cape Cod baby squid, Scuba dived sea scallop, sweet md crabmeat in an ocean herbal broth as a pre appetizer to be shared w/wife & followed by the seared NY state foie gras w/Pruneau d'Agen rosemary-apple puree & armagnac sauce which was huge (wife got braised hawaiian yellowtail w/Cavaillon melon, hon-shimeji mushrooms & a ginger aromatic sauce-she doesn't eat raw/seared tuna so this dish delighted her), followed by the Maine Day boat lobster w/a fricassee of sugar snap peas, parsley root puree, passion fruit & port wine paprika sauce (wife got the black sea bass in a sea scallop crust w/24 hour cooked tomato, jasmine rice & sauce bouillabaisse-tomato was out of this world intense & the scallop crust reminded me of Daniel/La Cirque dishes where they use thinly sliced potato but tastier). Now, we were both full & asked for the check so we skipped dessert or so we thought. Our server brought out the blueberry & sweet corn parfait w/soymilk gelee & huckleberry-sour cream sorbet to us & then followed up w/something not on the dessert menu but involved wafers, creme brulee, peaches & gelato that was out of this world... still no check in sight. He then brought out a tangerine/grapefruit ganache (not sure what it was but it was like a gourmet shaved ice on top of gelato I think) followed by petits fours. Finally the check came. We wondered what would have happened if we ordered dessert...
It was incredible. The damage came to $200 including tax. My wife had a glass of wine plus tasted 2 half glasses (sommelier was very accomodating & opened 2 bottles of whites which aren't normally served by the glass for her & she had a half glass each too). Needless to say, we left a good tip. We had recently eaten at Chanterelle & had a great meal as well but agreed that the overall experience at Bouley was better. Anyway, Bouley is now our favorite splurge restaurant for obvious reasons...
Thanks for the posting. I am in the same camp as you--I have wonderful dinners at Bouley. A few middling posting had shown up over earlier in the year--mostly about service. Glad your experience turned out so well. Hope more CH make the (return) trip soon.
Bravo for a great review! Bouley has always been one of my favorite restaurants. I'm going there in a few weeks for my birthday celebration, and based on your review, I know I'm going to have a wonderful time.
Good review. I was there about a month ago for my birthday celebration and did the chef's tasting menu with wines....It was 4.5 hours of amazing food, quite a bit of which was not on the regular menus. The food ranged from very good to spectacular (e.g., a perfect piece of salmon, topped with caviar & blini, in a likewise perfect beurre blanc sauce) The service was very good, much better than the previous time I had been! It cemented Bouley into one of my favorite places.
Great review!! I consider Bouley to be one of my favorites. Read some negative things about the service on this board but my experiences have been nothing but top notch.
I went to Bouley last night for my birthday and I wasn't overly impressed. The food was OK, but it wasn't outstanding. I also felt like the food should have been served a bit warmer but maybe that's just me. I had the lobster appetizer and the lobster entree and I wasn't wowed in the least bit. My husband had the lamb which was fantastic but such a tiny portion, and yes I'm fully aware of tiny portions at fine restaurants but still, one more piece of lamb wouldn't have been terrible. At any rate, the staff was very friendly and I had no problems with the service at all. My husband told them it was my birthday and they gave us two desserts on the house which was really lovely of them. The desserts I should add, were phenomenal. I would go back to Bouley for the dessert alone. :)
Maybe I ordered badly, but really, I don't see what the hype is about. I've had infinitely better food when I was on vacay in San Francisco.
Is this the best NY can offer? :(
I've not been to Bouley, but I want to comment on what you said about food not being warm enough. No, it isn't just you. Sadly, this has happened to us in a few other upscale restaurants. Blue Hill and Gramercy Tavern are the two that spring immediately to mind. In both instances, we sent the food back. (Actually, whenever this happens, we send the food back.) At Gramercy, we were told that the dishes would be done again from scratch. While it completely threw off the timing of the meal, at least, when the dish was served again, it was at the correct temperature. At Blue Hill, I don't know how the kitchen handled the situation, but when the food came back to us, it was warmer but still not really hot enough. We toyed with the idea of sending it back again, but decided to live with it. Needless to say, we were not happy campers.
To my way of thinking, when one is paying top dollar, it is inexcusable for a restaurant to send food out from the kitchen at an incorrect temperature. And even if the staff apologizes -- which they always do, and profusely -- and comp that dish or some other item, it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. (Pun intended!) The irony of ironies is that I can't recall this ever being a problem in any moderately-priced or inexpensive restaurant.
Finally, a comment about portion size. It is definitely not true that all fine restaurants serve tiny portions. That has not been a problem in the upscale restaurants where we dine. In my view, unless one is having a tasting dinner, where smaller portions are welcome, portion sizes at upscale restaurants should never be tiny.