After watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations Food Porn 2 (awesome show) episode I needed to go to Bar Boulud. I never had true charcuterie and I wanted to have it at its best. Anthony Bourdain said that he thought Daniel Boulud should be arrested (or rewarded) for his restaurant Bar Boulud being so out of place in America. When was Head Cheese being served or eaten in America? Also, one of the cooks at the restaurant I work at (Uproot in Warren, NJ) used to work at Bar Boulud and he highly recommended that I should go. After weeks of waiting, finally the day arrived.
It was a beautiful day in NYC and I arrived at Bar Boulud at about 12:10 for a 12:30 lunch reservation. We were greeted by a friendly hostess. We were going to be sat at a table that was very close to the table next to it. I was fine with this, but my dad wanted to have more room so we waited an extra few more minutes to get a different table that was more excluded. My dad and I sat at the bar, while we were waiting. I was looking at all of the terrines, bacons, confits, and other charcuterie. All of the charcuterie had golden, clear aspic layered on the terrines to protect them from oxidation. We were seated, the table was in the front corner of the room. I wanted to look into the restaurant to see the food coming out of the kitchen and my dad wanted to be looking outside so we were happy with our seats. We were seated and asked if we would like anything to drink. I ordered a sparkling hibiscus lemonade. At first I thought the lemonade was too tart and I really did not taste any hibiscus. I was pretty disappointed with my drink, but then when I mixed it around the tartness subsided and the drink was very refreshing, but still no herbal flavors of the hibiscus.
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Sorry I do not know how to post pictures on Chowhound.
For my first course I got a fromage de Tete, or also known as head cheese. Head cheese is the meat of the head (cheek, ear, brain, sweet bread, etc.). Most people would consider this dish gross, but I think it is awesome. For people that are squeamish towards cheek, ear, brain, etc. don't be. First off if you are going to kill the animal, in respect you have to use every single part of the animal. Also, what is the difference between eating breasts or cheeks? They are just different parts of the body. But most importantly Offal tastes so good. It is delicious. Now back to the head cheese. The Head Cheese was extremely tender. It was served with whole grain mustard, whole grain bread, cornichons (baby pickles), pickled baby cipollini onions, and frisee. The mustard added a much needed acid to cut the richness of the luscious head meat. I thought the bread was cut to thick and it overpowered the headcheese's texture and flavor. The whole dish also seemed not to be salted enough. If they sprinkled some fleur de sel on top of the terrine I believe it would have elevated the dish to a whole new level. Overall I liked the dish a lot, but I think it could have been better with a little more salt and thinner bread.
In the beginning of the meal it seemed as if the server was not caring about my table because a kid was there, but this quickly changed once she found out I was a "foodie" and that I met Daniel at the Bocuse D'or, which I have a post about. Meeting Daniel was insane. It was awesome. I showed my server a picture of me and Daniel together. She said that Daniel is usually in house once a week and she wished that he was here today to greet me and that Daniel himself was very friendly and easy to talk to.
Between courses, and before the first course, we were served bread. A sliced baguette with rich, creamy butter was luxurious and rustic. I got a chocolate croissant which was light and flaky with intense dark chocolate chips. My dad got a cinnamon roll with walnuts and raisins, which he said was delicious, buttery and earthy.
Next me and my dad's main courses arrived. I got a Boudin Blanc with potato puree, truffles, apples, and a pork demi glace. The sausage itself was very moist and delicious. The potato puree was extremely rich, but a little bitter which was different, but fine. The sauce was magnificent. It was the essence of pork with lots of roasted flavors. The apples added a nice acid and freshness to the dish . The only think that I did not like about the dish was how I tasted ZERO truffles. One of my pet peeves is when in the menu description it states truffles, but then there is no truffle taste. This happens a lot, even at great restaurants. When restaurants have cheap truffle dishes you know there has to be minimal amounts of the stuff because it is so expensive. I think that when restaurants serve truffles they should almost go overboard on them (and price them higher) so the customer gets the full experience and truly understands how truffles taste. I know they do this at The French Laundry and Per Se. Thomas Keller said that when he serves truffles and foie gras he always gives more than is needed because he wants his customers to be blown away buy the powers of these magnificent ingredients. My dad got swordfish with roasted corn, rapini, haricot vert, and julienned carrots. My dad absolutely loved the dish. His dish was very beautiful to look at. He had no complaints.
For dessert I got gâteau basque. This was a custard cake with brandied cherries and creme anglaise. Since there was almond flour in the custard cake, the whole dish had a comforting flavor of an amaretto cookie. The custard was luxuriously rich, but not too sweet. The cherries cut through the fat and the sugar because of the alcoholic notes that were packed into the cherry itself. I loved the dish immensely.
After the food I asked if I could get a tour of the kitchen and they allowed me to. The manager escorted me down and introduced me with the corporate chef and the chef de cuisine. The kitchen was much smaller than Del Posto's kitchen which was gigantic, but bigger than Uproot which is where I work at. Everything was running smoothly, it was an organized chaos. There were lots of cooks in a small cramp area. The whole experience was great and I wish to come back to Bar Boulud and try some blood sausage (which was not on the menu at the time). Thanks for reading. Please ask any questions you wish.
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019
85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011
1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023
Nice report! I think that if you go back, you need to get the full charcuterie board to get the entire experience of Bar Boulud. I like the head cheese just fine, but my favorites on the board are the pâté grand-mère and a pâté grand-père. The grand-mère is pork with chicken liver and cognac; the grand-père is truffled foie gras with duck liver. I also really like the saucisson (dry sausage).
1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023