Has Bouley lost it's flavor?
My birthday is coming up next week and I have reservations at Bouley. I am in the social work business so I do not make a lot of money and my birthday is the one time of year my boyfriend and I really splurge. I have heard recent comments that Bouley has gone downhill--is this true? I don't want to blow a lot of cash and not have a good time. The last birthday dinners were GT and Nobu. Would Gotham Bar & Grill be better?
I am thinking of having lunch there next Saturday and have been wondering the same thing also since reading some of the recent reviews.
I went there for Valentine's Day this past year, and have also been recently to other comparable restaurants (Jean Georges, most recently). I would still say it is worth every penny-I thought the food help up to any place in the city.
I should note that Bouley did lose a star in the NYT, and a big reason cited in Bruni's review was the service. I DID find the service to be somewhat odd, stilted and disorganized. Bouley's service was more a parody of what I figure an out-of-towner would think "real New York service" would be-- that is to say, fussy, pointless and not terribly friendly. In our case, we were made to wait 15 min past reservation time at the bar (they did not pay for the one drink I ordered) and then, after agreeing to transfer the check, the bartender chased us out into the dining room to ask if I had paid the bill, which I found somewhat insulting and extremely rude, since we were on our way to laying out about $650 for the 7-course tasting menu and wine pairings, and the one gin and tonic I had should have been comped anyway. This is the kind of thing that really catches Frank Bruni's ire, and I think for good reason. After that, things improved, but I still thought the service was less precise, less out-of-the-way, and less professional than at Jean Georges, Daniel, Perry St., or any Danny Meyer restaurant.
All that said, despite that little issue, we had a wonderful evening and I would go back. I tell you that story only by way of at least addressing some of the concerns I have seen about the place. Others may also have a different opinion of the food, but to each their own.
I went to Bouley a couple of months ago and had the tasting menu and was underwhelmed by the food, only one dish was particularly memorable and the service was rather spotty. I felt it wasn't comparable to those we had at Cru (altough we had a wonderful waiter there, who made the experience that much more memorable), GT and most recently Le Bernadin. For a special occaison, I may have to reccomend going elswhere.
Definitely go to Bouley! I can tell you that you and your boyfriend will have a wonderful time. I just dined at Bouley last week for my birthday, and we had a truly wonderful time. Food was delicious. Service was perfectly timed (not too rushed--not too slow). I'm really glad that I chose Bouley to celebrate my birthday.
I, too, was there on a Sunday night a few months ago with four other reasonably particular eaters and we were all very pleased by the menu, food and service. It's possible that on a hectic Saturday night, things aren't quite as smooth flowing, but for us, it was terrific.