Bar Boulud 2010 [London]
Fine French food set in a relaxed bistro like environment with an emphasis on charcuterie including his famous pates, terrines and sausages. Indeed, we started our meal with a shared charcuterie board where both the rabbit terrine (pulled rabbit, carrot, courgette and herbs) and lamb pate (slow cooked spiced leg of lamb, aubergine and seet potato) were of exceptional quality, amongst the best we've ever tasted.
A trip to a Boulud restaurant wouldn't be complete without a famous sausage. We chose a Boudin blanc to share - a white pork sausage without the blood. This was served with a white truffle mash, cooked apple and a reduction. The sausage had an almost pate like texture and a fork combining all components of the dish balanced perfectly and again provided for a first class dish.
Following this, we received a small bonus. Having seen calves head on the menu posted at the front door but not on the table menu, a casual enquiry led to the staff treating us to a tasting sample of the terrine. Huge texture and huge taste, it's definitely worth giving this a go for calves head newbies like us.
Fot the starters - yes everything till now was a pre-starter - we ordered a Petite Aioli that was a beautifully presented plate of shrimp, muscles, clams and olive oil poached cod together with quali egg, dipping veg and breadsticks. My starter was the warm white and green asparagus with crispy egg which was a visual as well as a gustatory treat. All the ingredients were super fresh, super tasty and cooked to perfection. The crispy egg cut into just oozed over the asparagus and added a new dimension to a classic dish.
For the mains, we ordered a Yankee burger and a Coq au Vin. We should add at this point that Boulud is famous for his burgers and in particular, his short rib burgers. This particular signature dish was not on the menu today but the Yankee burger nevertheless was a first class burger albeit it could have been a little warmer. The real event here though was the coq au vin. Imagine the deepest, darkest red wine sauce reduction. Imagine the tastiest french trimmed chicken cooked to perfection. Imagine supersize bacon lardons. Now we're getting close to what was on the plate in front of me. It was the best coq au vin I've ever tasted and again, took the dish to a new level. I just wanted to keep eating it more and more despite how much food I had already eaten, it was just so tasty. It was coq au vin perfection.
We shared a desert, the Coupe Peppermint which enjoyed its own moment of theatre as the a hot chocolate sauce poured over a thin chocalte lid sees the lid disolve away revealing your peppermint yum beneath. Washed down with an Austrian Trockenbeerenauslese it was a great way to end the meal.
We love this place and have been back a few times since writing this. If you want to see pictures you can find them on our blog.
On my second visit I had a burger at the bar. The manager saw my sad face when I cut it open because it was overcooked. He rushed over and whisked it away. Second attempt was perfect. Mr.CC had one the other day and thought it was pretty juicy. Shame there seems to be some inconsistency
I was there last week and Daniel Boulud was in the kitchen. Apparently, he was there for the whole week. I have been to Bar Boulud five times for their burgers. They serve the DB burger (foie gras and truffle) on Sundays and Mondays for 20 pounds, which is quite a deal I think for what it is. I ordered it rare, which was a mistake, since the foie gras was not fully heated in the middle. That said, the frenchie burger is bordering on perfection. Their service is friendly and attentive and it is reasonably priced. My husband and I left there spending 60 pounds the other night, which included a drink, appetizer, and burger for each of us.
thanks for the detailed review...even though i have mixed feelings abou the NY Bar Boulud, your review made me want to go to the London one and try the coq au vin and the boudin blanc...
for a few months, i lived on CPW/68th St, very close to the NY Bar Boulud...i thought the staff/service was great...but with the exception of the charcuterie, i found the food disappointing: more prissy and presentable than hearty and craving-inducing -- e.g. a bland non-fishy too-smooth bouillabaise, an insubstantial green salad, etc...eventually, i just stopped going, unless i was craving some terrine and a glass of wine *and* it was at a time of day when the place wasn't packed w/ tourists and concert-goers...
On a related tangent, is this thing of NY restaurants crossing the pond going to be a growing trend?...someone told me there is/will-be a London Balthazar soon?...eh, NY Balthazar is okay for oysters and salads, provided one goes there off-hours, but i can think of a dozen London restaurants and gastropubs that are far far superior in every way...so sort of unnecessary...
But a stray Bar Boulud or Balthazar, i can live with...but if Mario Batali or David Chang ever opens a successful London restaurant, i plan to leave the city immediately...will pack my bags and flee to southern Japan or northern Thailand or a rocky coast of Corsica...
Hi Simon, would be great to see your list of places in London to try in the "far far superior than Balthazar" vein. We always enjoy our trip there when in New York. As a bistro we find it very competent, but it really shines at brekkie.
And why the Chang/Batali hate? If we had somewhere in the UK like Ko, then I'm in!
Now, if only I can convince Danny Meyer to being the Shake Shack! ;)
heya...true, Balthazar breakfasts are good -- especially around 10am on weekdays (but weekends w/ all the shoppers in town from the suburbs? - yikes)
Places i like in London that i find far superior to Balthazar (and bear in mind, they are not French brasseries/bistros, but are places that serve things like oysters, salads, brunch, that i eat at Balthazar and/or places that serve grilled meats and cooked seafood which i usually won't order at Balthazar)...
-- St. John
-- St. John Bread and Wine
-- Randall and Aubin (oysters, champagne, seafood salads)
-- Wright Bros.
-- Modern Pantry (brunch)
-- The Cow (gastropub)
-- Hereford Rd
-- and these Spanish places are even further afield from Balthazar, but are much better places overall in my opinion: Barrafina, Cambio de Tercio, Morito
There are tons of gastropubs (many of the ones rec'd highly here, like Harwood Arms) that i haven't made it to yet...and, because i lived in Paris for a few months last spring/summer, i've yet to go to even a single actual French bistro here in London...so i suppose i have no idea whether Balthazar would improve the French state of things in London (in NYC, there is no French bistro that i really like, which is prob why i sometimes go to B even though i'm not a huge fan of the place).
re: Chang/Batali hate, i'll keep that on the Manhattan board -- i shouldn't have mentioned it here :)
Thanks Simon...have copied your list for further study prior to our Dec visit to the capital.
I haven't made it to St.John yet, but it is near the top of the list. Morito is the Moro-baby from Sam and Sam Clark yeah? I can't find any website for it....do you know if they just serve the Moro tapas menu, or is it a bit broader?
Also, Caravan is new to me. Good for brunch on the weekend? Any other places you would rec for brekkie/brunch. Smiths of Smithfield? We went to The Table @ Southwark last time which while not exciting, was pleasant.
hi...i've actually never been to the original Moro...Morito is right next door -- it's bright and tiny w/ ugly orange linoleum counters as if the space used to be a chip shop or something, but food was delicious the one time i went...sort of mix of tapas and tagines, Spanish and N.African...very reasonably priced, nice service...
Caravan is good for brunch, though i'd give the edge to the Modern Pantry...never been to Smiths of Smithfields because they play deafening techno, which is not what i want during a Sunday brunch/hangover :)
Randall and Aubin is brunchable...they have an absurdly cheap oysters/champagne special: 7 and a half pounds for six oysters *and* a glass of champagne (only certain hours, so check website)...however, as good as R&A's oysters are, Wright Bros is my new oyster fav (the Borough Market location is quite fun and woodsy, but will be mobbed on weekends)...
Looking forward to hearing your impressions of London on your next trip.
It sounds more to me as if there is an invasion of French cuisine rather than things t ypical of New York. :-) I lived most of my life north of NYC and Balthazar, as already noted, is a fun place for breakfast or brunch - always too noisy but that's part of the fun. Boulud seems to be everywhere these days and if he can maintain the quality, why not?
I've always found it interesting how owners of something must research what will appeal when they do move to another country. Pret A Manger was a flop, as I remember, in NYC, but here in London it's always popular.