I went last night to check this place out. I normally hate going uptown for anything, but decided to make the trek. The room has a decidedly downtown fee - long and narrow. Place was packed and it was going to be 15 minutes for our table so we just took seats at the bar. The menu is extensive and there is plenty of stuff if you are not into the charcuterie. I normally do not order that stuff, but I figured when in Rome...I tried the rabit one and it was good, but just not my thing. My friend had a mushroom soup that was just the slightest bit creamy, but mostly just full of mushroomy goodness. It had a few little fried things on top and some grapeseed oil. They were out of the fish and chips (cod and all sorts of root vegetables) so I went with the lamb stew which was fantastic. A rich brown sauce that did not taste too buttery and the lamb was so tender. Everything was normally portoined so you don't have to worry about eating yourself into a food coma (which I would never do). Only thing they could improve was the service although I don't think it was a systematic issue. Our waiter seemed really nervous all night. When we asked for the side of garlic to come out with the appetizers not the mains it did not and he did not tell us they were out of the eclair or the fish and chips until we ordered them. The other bonus was Daniel wandering around the dining room giving orders to staff and chatting with guests. I would definitely go back.
I went here the opening week and sat in the big table in the back - sort of a community style dining experience. Sitting at that table was interesting because it induced a little more food envy than usual, meaning if something my neighbor ordered attracted my interest, I didn't feel strange asking what he was having and how it was. he did not seem impressed with the snails he ordered, nor with the chicken portion (not sure which item on the menu this was).
Likewise, I was not impressed by the Tagine D'Agneau, a terrine with lamb, eggplant, and sweet potato. My friend and I also ordered the Coq au Vin, the mache salad, and two desserts, one of which was a pear tart, and the other something with chocolate foam. Was the food spectacular? No, not really. But it was not too heavy, and it was a delight to see Mark Bittman. I would go back, but I would probably not order any of the above again except for the mache salad.
Glad to read they are permitting people to go to the bar to wait and that Daniel is giving his attention as our experience the first week was a disaster:
"Daniel Boulud's new dinning spot opened the first full week in January. Located directly across the street from Lincoln Center, the location alone means it is and will be a popular place, particularly considering the lack of fine dinning competition in the neighborhood.
This cafe/bistro is in fact not a bar. Currently the front desk will not permit guests to congregate around the so called bar - a strange edict if there ever was one. With the place overflowing with people wanting to taste Daniel's Lyon-style menu, the entrance area including the front seating area has become as crowded as a subway platform at 5:30 pm. And without a drink in hand the waiting crowd became unruly rather rapidly. Clearly the front desk (while quite professional) is currently overwhelmed and quite frazzled. They need to find a quick fix, or it will fix itself as people tire of this inadequate arrangement.
Part of the current problem appears to be overbooking, waiters struggling with getting checks to customers and credit card receipts back to customers, and the slow clearing and re-setting of tables. Undoubtedly an opening week problem that is hopefully to improve.
The menu does not disappoint in providing a rather long list of traditional French cafe/bistro fare with a heavy Lyon regional focus. Prices are rather high for what is generally considered simple food and even with the Euro at 1.50 to the US Dollar, one could probably eat the same meal for less in France.
The food itself is fine - nothing spectacular as one has come to expect at Daniel's dinning places. Nothing is really off, but then again nothing seemed to blow us away. The list of pates is interesting and the pates are quite well made. The classic escargots are fine, but nothing out of the ordinary. The "coq a vin" was also acceptable, but we have had better. The "boudin blanc" - a real test of the French Bistro- was moist and tasty, but the singular sausage on a large plate with minimal accompaniments looked lonesome and quite inadequate as a $27 main course.
The wine list is focused on French moderately priced and middle of the road wines. Like the food, nothing unpleasing but nothing spectacular in selection or pricing.
We passed on desert as the waiting customers began overwhelming the seating area in front assigned to "twos", and it became uncomfortable to remain seated while hungry people stood hovering over our table waiting to be seated.
Reviewing any dinning place during the first week is always tricky. Even the best places struggle getting out of the starting blocks. However, a place with Boulud in its name that struggles as badly as Bar Boulud did on our first visit is unexpected."
i went on saturday at 5:30 and people were being turned away without reservations. If you have 2 people and are stuck at the front of the room, then it definitely got pretty crowded as more and more people arrived. But the back of the room, which is comprised of the communal table and settings for 4 people were very comfortable.
By 7:30 or so, it had cleared out as what I assume were the Lincoln Center diners went to their performances, so i wonder if maybe there was less craziness then.
as for the food, would echo what was said above. Very hearty, very flavorful food, but nothing to write home about. I had the coq au vin which was rich without being overwhelming, but i didn't think it was anything special. My wife's seafood linguine was pretty good, but nothing that Babbo couldn't do just as well if not better. The charcuterie were very nice. We shared the large sampler platter - i really liked the pate gran mere, the beef cheek and some big cube of something. The house ham tasted like ham.. that i could have at my own house.
I am surprised to hear that it cleared out by 7:30 because I could not get anything but an early rez. (I would have much preferred the 7:30!!)
Oh well! Guess I will be sitting in the front with everyone peering down at my dishes. (I shall not deliver this part of it to my mate who would immediately diss it and make me cancel! ... LOL ... and who could blame him?)
I went the other night because I really wanted to try the charcuterie. I really like the space, it is quite cozy. I was by myself and therefore was seated at the round wine tasting table in the back. Unflortunately for me the couple seated next to me was having a massive argument complete with expletives. Really, really tacky. She even yelled at him about being in MY way.
I ordered the large charcuterie platter. I was disappointed because I was told that the plate consisted of a small portion of each of the selections and it didin't. I was especially excited about the tourte de gibiers au genièvre, pheasant, duck and partridge “en croûte” with sweetbreads, foie gras and juniper. It was not on the plate, and the waiter did not mention that they had none left. Nor was the saucisson sec.
The lapin de la garrigue, provençal pulled rabbit,carrot, zucchini and herbs was in dire need of salt and had little to no flavor.
The tagine d’agneau, terrine of slow cooked spiced leg of lamb with eggplant and sweet potato had nice flavor and was especially tasty with the coriander carrots that were served but the terrine itself was a bit dry.
The pates were delicious as well as the in house cooked ham. Overall, though, the charcuterie was not worth it.
I would definitely like to go back and try some of the entrees...the scallops looked AMAZING!