Bar Boulud : Charcuterie vs. other Entrees What is better?
I have previously been to Bar Boulud and had a delicious meal, so I was very excited to come back. This time around I went with some of my friends to try to show them that charcuterie, like headcheese, actually tastes good.
Following a visit to Williams & Sonoma to watch James Tracey, the Chef at Craft, make a beautiful Roast Chicken we arrived at Bar Boulud anticipating fantastic food, and all in all it delivered.
For the first course we were presented with a stunning selection of hand-made artisanal pastries, which ranged from decadent, buttery croissants to comforting cinnamon rolls reminiscing of your childhood. Yes, I know I am still a kid, but the sweet smell of cinnamon and butter is already implanted in my memories.
The chocolate croissant was great - the light flaky croissant and rich, dark pieces of chocolate complemented each other wonderfully.
Pate Grand-Mere is a fine country pate of chicken liver, pork, cognac, and spices, which is made by grinding up all of the meat and cooking it slowly in a terrine mold (This is what the American Meatloaf was derived from).
The texture of the pate was incredibly smooth and unctuous, which was balanced out by the acidic and bitter garnishes (frisse, cornichons, pickled pearl onions, whole grain mustard).
Taste-wise the pate was a joy to eat and it won over 1/2 of my friends.
The Croque Madame is Chef Daniel Boulud's interpretation of the simple ham and cheese sandwich - his version is by far the best I ever had. The exterior of the sandwich was nice and crispy, and when you cut through it the gruyere cheese oozed out beautifully. The ham itself was of a great quality and would have been enjoyed on it's own, yet it was enhanced by it's accompaniments. This sandwich, garnished with a perfectly fried egg was the climax of the meal. It was incredible.
Fromage de Tete
Head cheese is the meat of the head (cheek, ear, brain, sweet bread, etc.) that is cooked and layered in a terrine with aspic. Some 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 an animal, in respect you have to use every single part of the animal to honor it's life. 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. When cooked properly it completely outshines the "accepted cuts" of meat.
Now back to the head cheese. It was served with whole grain mustard, whole grain bread, cornichons (baby pickles), pickled baby pearl onions, and frisse. The mustard added a much needed acid to cut the richness of the luscious head meat. I thought the bread was cut a little too thick and it overpowered the headcheese's texture and flavor. 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 loved the dish, but I think it could have been slightly better with a little more salt and thinner bread.
2 Scoops of Ice Cream, Almond Sable
Because of my delicious dessert the last time I was at Bar Boulud I was expecting great things, however this dessert was a failure. The chocolate vanilla swirl was not appealing, I have had much better from a carton in my freezer. The almond sable cookies were bland, and were not even served on one of my friend's plate. How can you forget a main component of a dish? The only part of the dish that was pleasant was the pear and licorice ice cream, which I did enjoy a lot.
Service was very, very good. When you are asking yourself when did my water get refilled, and when did they replenish our bread you know the servers are professionals.
Over two meals at Bar Boulud I have come to realize that main courses at Bar Boulud are better than the charcuterie. The boudin blanc from my last meal and the croque madame of this meal were both excellent dishes that out shined the charcuterie I ordered. I still have not tried the blood sausage, why is it not on the brunch menu!!!
Have i just not oredered the better options of the charcuterie side of the menu? I went for brunch so some a good portion of the charcuterie is not available to order.
1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023
Bold statement to make based only upon two meals, isn't it? I say you need to go back and order the degustation de charcuterie! The bigger one with all 3 pates and the non-pork charcuterie and the saucisson sec and the ham and the head cheese.