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Bar Boulud Review

Well, this is the second time I will be writing this, since just as I finished and thought to copy it into Word, my internet connection cut out. Arggh. However, I will try to persevere and replicate it.

We stopped in at about 1pm yesterday after seeing The Counterfeiters (highly recommend) at Lincoln Plaza. I could immediately see the issues others have had with the entrance - there is only a tiny space for waiting customers, and there is quite a chill when a breeze goes by. I wouldn't want to sit in the front on a cold day. I would note that the general feeling when arriving would be much improved if there was also less chill from the hostess, who was quite unsmiling and acted more like a saleswoman at Chanel upon the arrival of poorly dressed person at her store, than a welcoming face.

We didn't have a reservation and were offered seats at the large round "tasting table" in the back. There is also a rectangular tasting table. We walked back there, past the bar with many empty seats, and asked to be seated there instead, which we were - at the back end of the bar. The bartender gave us menus and a winelist. We ordered a $50 Burgundy and two pates – I had the guinea hen one and my husband the pate de grand-mere. For our main courses, we ordered the steak frites (rare) and the lamb ragu papardelle, with olives, grape tomatoes and what I think were tiny cubes of celeriac. The brunch menu isn’t on the website yet, but offers two courses for $29 and three for $38, with a $10 supplement for the steak. Overall the food was excellent – lovely bread, a nice frisee salad with each pate (served with toasted bread, which was quickly replaced when we used up the first plate of it) very tasty steak with great frites, and I really enjoyed my pasta dish, as did my husband. I ordered the iles flottantes (sp?) for dessert, thinking that the rose petal croquante would be interesting, but it was a bit overwhelming in rose flavor, as rose flavor does tend to be. We capped this off with two well drawn espressi. Service throughout our meal was professional and friendly.

Chef Boulud arrived shortly after we ordered and lingered in our area, which serves as a service station of sorts – drinks, as well as food, since the stairs from the kitchen open up at the bar. He noticed my picking out a piece of cork from my wine glass and asked if we needed anything, and we had a nice brief chat about screwtops versus corks. He also stopped at several tables to "check in", before settling in at the other end of the bar for what appeared to be a meeting with someone.

We’ll definitely return, as it is a nice option after an early movie. Tab before tip was about $140. I did get the sense that certain tables were having service issues, based on overhearing waiters etc. in our vicinity, and a lot of wrong drinks going out, but they had two suited men who seemed responsible for smoothing over any ruffled feathers.

The bartender told us, by the way, that they eventually plan to be open from lunch straight through dinner - we'd stopped by the week before at 2:30 and they were closed.

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  1. MMR:
    Thanks for your fine report.
    I was wondering if you might be able to compare Bar Boulud with Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Bldg. (we also plan to go to the morning show of "Counterfeiters" and are more attracted to Bouchon's menu.)
    Are the prices similar or is one place more expensive than the other?
    We're more interested in sandwiches, salads and soups than the more ambitious and pricey Bar Boulud.
    Thanks for any advice you can give.

    4 Replies
    1. re: idia

      I've not been to Bouchon Bakery, unfortunately, so I can't help. Bar Boulud - at least on the brunch menu - did have a croque monsieur and a croque madame (poached egg on top - my husband almost ordered it as well when he saw it go by) and the salads did look nice.

      1. re: idia

        MMR did indeed give an excellent report. Well done!

        Regarding Bar Boulud vs. Bouchon Bakery (dueling Bs), the stark, consumer palace ambience at Time Warner can't compare with the much sexier Bar Boulud. But if you're really more interested in less ambitious fare, Bouchon is probably your best bet. It's a very stylish little cafe with the best food you'll ever eat in a mall. Deconstructed S'mores, anyone? And it's a tad less expensive than Bar Boulud.

        1. re: citycook

          Thanks City Cook. Sounds like Bouchon Bakery (I get my Bouchons, Bouluds and Bouley's all mixed up), is way more my speed all around.
          I have been forcing wanting to go to Bar Boulud, it's the new "in" place, but being honest with myself, I have too many negative thoughts about it.

      2. Thanks a lot for a thorough report. I'm glad to hear Bar Boulud is so accessible. It's a place I'm really interested to try.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChefJune

          In terms of "accessible" - next time, I would try to make a reservation, fwiw.

        2. Thanks for yet another find report. Bar Boulud is on our short list since their menu really plays into sweet spot as far as food is concerned.

          1. I went last week with my husband and mother. We sat in the front, which was sort of like sitting at one of those dime a dozen lunch places throughout the city, plus it was raining and cold, and when the door opened, it was slightly unpleasant. THe food, however, was very good. I had a beet salad with goat cheese and bacon, which was delicious, and a croque madame, with which you can never go too far wrong. My husband had charcuterie, which was lovely; my mother had the roast chicken, which was also terrific. I wasn't crazy about the service- it took far too long for us to get our wine, and the waitress kept spilling water on the table. I will go back, but I wasn't as blown away as I thought I'd be.

            10 Replies
            1. re: sed231

              I would be grateful to anyone who could point me to a positive review of this place. So far, all I have come up with are negative reports.
              Thanks

              1. re: idia

                "Overall the food was excellent" and "Service throughout our meal was professional and friendly" both sound pretty positive to me. Why don't you try it and tell us what you think?

                1. re: JoanN

                  Yes - my review was meant to be entirely positive, aside from some observations of minor issues others were having and my comment about the hostess. Thanks for clarifying that Joan - I think that I tend not to gush about places - but we really enjoyed our meal, our food, our service and, as I posted, we'll definitely be back.

                  I didn't expect to be "wowed" as I would at Daniel for example - seems to me that this is a different kind of place.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    JoanN: I guess I didn't communicate myself correctly. What I should have said was, is there any newspaper, magazine or other review of this restaurant that was a positive one? So far the professionally written reviews I have read (not by Chowies) were mid to negative ones.

                    1. re: idia

                      Bruni gave it two stars - and while I don't always agree with him, I don't think of that as mid to negative - here's a link:

                      http://events.nytimes.com/2008/02/27/...

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        MMRuth:
                        I really thank you for that article. It helped put some things in perspective for me.
                        Maybe some day David W and I will meet and make it a foursome so we can occupy a "friendly" booth for a late afternoon snack, which seems the only way to go! ;-)

                        1. re: idia

                          Now I'm blushing....I'll be interested to see how this place develops once they are open all day.
                          And MMRuth, I hate to contadict, but that's a review of Bar Blanc, not Boulud-though he does mention it in passing.
                          For my money, in that immediate area, I'd rather eat at the Nougatine room.

                          1. re: David W

                            Bouchons/Blancs/Bouluds/Bouleys -- way too many B's for me!

                            1. re: David W

                              Sorry about that!! I did think that it was odd that he'd review a place so soon after it opened -ha!

                2. An Additional Report on Bar Boulud:
                  I went there last night with a friend. We had no reservation as the place was fully booked. We were told about the communal table or the bar. We decided to give it a try. The greeting at the door was odd and somewhat "chilly" as MMRuth mentions above. Not rude, just not entirely friendly. Maybe this is stress because the place is incredibly busy as its new. Anyway, we were seated at a table in the front when all was said and done. There were moments that a cool gust of air would fill that front area, but we were just happy to get in w/o a reservation.
                  I tried the $14 pear martini. It was very good, not too sweet. The prices on the wine by the glass list offer a couple of "inexpensive" options, $8 and $10. But then the prices escalate quickly. I ordered the coq au vin $24, my friend ordered the lamb navarin $26. We both liked our respective our dishes. The chicken (3 pieces of dark meat) was very brown and had a nice rich deeply flavorful sauce. I did wish that the kitchen provided more of the pasta-like starch that came with the dish--it was a bit skimpy in this regard. My friend said her lamb was was very good and it looked wonderful as served in a mini cast iron pot. We each had the custard gateau w/berries. Again, we both liked this dessert. The place has a fresh crisp atmosphere and very nice bathrooms, BTW. All in all, I think this place is a great addition to the neighborhood. My only complaint, is that the prices, while not too crazy, seem a tad high for what is offered. But in fairness, the rent is very high at that location, so there isn't much that can be done in this regard--its a problem in NYC generally. The tab was $106 before tip.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Ora

                    I agree with the not rude but just not entirely friendly! A bit aloof perhaps ...