In praise of Bouley - large group celebratory lunch
I felt the need to write in about a lunch I had at Bouley this past week.
My family had a special occasion to celebrate and I earnestly searched for a "fine dining" restaurant that would seat up to 14 people for lunch in their main dining room. In general I feel that the "special" rooms various restaurants have end up feeling too corporate, or they charge you extra for a "special menu" which is not special or they just don't want the business.
I have family in the restaurant business and I understand that groups can be a problem. I specifically called for mid-week lunch in an effort to find somewhere that could accommodate us.
THANK YOU BOULEY!
The only top rated restaurant in Manhattan that was willing to seat us in the main dining room with the normal tasting menu. We had two tables right next to each other as they did not have one that was large enough for all of us.
Secondly, they could not have been more gracious to our two tables. Now I know people are going to cringe, but I brought 11 seventeen year old girls to lunch with me. Yes you heard me. :)
Granted they are polite, considerate - no loud voices, no cell phones, and appropriately attired, young ladies but even so, I wasn't sure how we would be received. Remember I was the only one able to drink so they were making no money on alcohol, usually a big help to the restaurants bottom line. We had two tables right in the front of the main dining room. Two of the girls were late, as they got lost downtown. and still we received excellent treatment ect ....
Also, we had two with serious nut allergies. The restaurant took it very seriously and they were able to enjoy the meal with us.
This was the first "tasting menu" many of the girls had experienced and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Everybody seemed happy and interested in the various courses, swapping plates and trying each others meals which liked to see.
The food, to be honest, I wasn't that focused on the food. I was concentrating on the girls. My food was very good. Some courses better than others. I hadn't eaten at Bouley in years and years so I can't even compare it to the "old" Bouley. They gave me a free second glass of wine, (different than the rhone white I ordered and very very good) and each table a free "extra" desert which as you can imagine was a big hit with the teenagers.
One thing I did notice was that during bread service they gave us at least 4 different types of bread. Everyone had a different favorite. I did read somewhere that they serve the butter too cold and hard which was true but not something that ruins a lunch for me. I loved the asparagus and one of my fish courses was a real standout. The beef cheeks got raves too. I've learned that for me great food is only part of the equation and that being treated well, good service and a beautiful room do make a difference.
The room is stunning. the pictures do not do it justice. Also, the chairs are very comfortable. Great for men, people who need back support, etc
For the record the girls loved the downstairs red rooms, which they had scoped out while visiting the bathroom, and they thought it would be the perfect place for a rehearsal dinner or special celebration. I concurred. I actually think you could use their "party room" and still have a lovely experience.
163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013
I'm glad you enjoyed Bouley. If you have a similar occasion in the future, Tocqueville will also accommodate up to 14 guests in the main dining room for lunch with no menu restrictions. Our party was seated together in a long table, and the food, service, and atmosphere were comparable to Bouley.
So glad you all had a great time! My sister, my mother and I had a terrific Mother's Day late lunch downstairs in the newly refurbished "Red Room", and had a wonderful time. The room is stunning! The food and service (I agree with you food is only one component of a truly special meal), as always, were flawless!