RW Report: A Voce, Cafe Boulud
I get to work every day at 4am. One of the few and far compensations is being able to go to nice lunches (since I'm finished with work by that time), and I took advantage of restaurant week to try a couple of places long on my list.
I love the high ceilings and the window that runs the height and length of the front of the restaurant. The decor is very Scandinavian, down to the Eames chairs, and quite elegant.
Since my ears were still thawing on this chilly day, I began with the artichoke soup, accented with cubes of what tasted like Jerusalem artichoke; swirls of mint pesto and yogurt; and lamb raviollini. A delicious combination. My main course, sauteed scallops with pumpkin puree, apple froth and sauteed wild mushrooms, was just this side of too sweet. But I liked the unusual mixing of flavors. My dessert, a riff on tiramisu, wasn't as rich as I would have liked.
The service was excellent, and this restaurant gets high marks for not skimping on adventurousness or ingredients on its RW menu. That means I'll be going back to pay full price.
I expected classic, and classic is what I got, from service to food. The name "cafe" is pretty amusing; there's nothing casual about this place, from its low ceilings and clubby feel to the white tablecloths and changing of silver to reflect one's order.
I started with a green salad with grapefruit and an orange-shallot vinaigrette, which I foolishly expected to be more exciting than it was. My main, skate with pearl onions, carrots and swiss chard, was one of the best pieces of that fish I've had, very tender and rich. (Presumably a heavy hand with the butter, in the classic French style, was partly responsible). I finished with a peanut-butter-caramel-chocolate cake, and tasted my friends' molton chocolate cake and lemon tart. All were decadent.
Funny that I picked these two without remembering the chef at A Voce used to be a Boulud apprentice. You'd never know it from the restaurants.
I've got reservations next week for Park Avenue Winter & Tocqueville, so I'll try to report back on those as well.
My first thought when I saw the two restaurants you were reporting on was to wonder whether you picked them on purpose since, as you noted, Andrew Carmellini was at Cafe Boulud before he left to open A Voce. However, I would hardly call him a Boulud "apprentice" since he was actually in charge of the kitchen at C.B. for many years, and the delicious cuisine was his.
At Cafe Boulud, Carmellini's successor, Betrand Chemel, left in the fall, and when we were there in December, we were told that the newly-appointed chef, Gavin Kaysen, had already arrived. At that point, he was still working with Chemel's menu, but I'm thinking that the food you ate was probably his. Sounds as though C.B. is in good hands. This is one of our favorite restaurants, so I'm looking forward to enjoying Chef Kaysen's cuisine.