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Current thoughts on Boulud restaurants?

Curious what the local 'hounds think about the various Daniel Boulud restaurants? What are the must hits? Any must avoids? I'm interested across price points and settings. I loved my dinner at Bar Boulud last year -- atmosphere, service and food were all excellent.

Thanks for any insight!

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  1. Daniel -- only if they know you

    Cafe Boulud -- excellent (but pricy)

    db Bistro Moderne -- better than it has to be, but hit-or-miss

    Bar Boulud -- love it

    Boulud Sud -- very good (although I personally am suspicious of that kind of food)

    DBGB -- It was pretty good when it opened, but I've heard it's become horrible (which isn't surprising, given that the Boulud organization seemed from the start to be contemptuous of DBGB's downtown/uptown-going-downtown crowd).

    1. I have always had good experiences at Bar Boulud, love the "Cubano" at Epicerie, have not been impressed by DBGD, cannot comment on the rest.

      1. i was at db bistro moderne yesterday for lunch. Actually had a great lunch. I was impressed by the restaurant week lunch menu (normally RW doesn't do much for me). Better than I've had at other locales in recent memory. Service was spot on and the pace of the meal was perfect. However I think much of that was due to the slightly late-ish rez time. When we arrived at 12:45 place was out-of-this world PACKED but the crowd was starting to thin.
        Cafe Boulud: always great
        Bar Boulud: also great.
        DBGB: not to great.

        1. -- Bar Boulud...never been a fan...have been several times after the opera and while i like the charcuterie i found the cooked dishes and even the salads to be overrated.

          -- Boulud Sud...love it...my fav for before/after Lincoln Center music

          -- DBGB...i go often but only for oysters (always topnotch) and drinks at the bar

          1. My 2 cents..

            In the last two weeks I've been to DBGB and DB bistro moderne.

            DBGB for lunch... Honestly.. I'm not going back.. The burger was good (Frenchy Burger) but the bread was stale and old, the mussels were good but they dropped four empty plates one on top of each other in the middle of our table without saying a word when they served them. We thought they forgot some clean plates they were bringing somewhere and they would come back to pick them up. We then realized they give you four plates so that when you filled the first with your shells you can use the second, etc filling the whole table with plates full of shells... Seriously? You can't change the plate full of shells of someone who is eating the mussels while he eat? Desserts were nothing to write home about too..

            DB bistro moderne, one of the best dinner I had in the last few months! The tomato tarte tatin was great, escargot and fois gras too. Then we all enjoyed our main courses a lot, especially the DB burger.. Maybe the coq au vin was the only entree we didn't wow about, but everything else was spotless.. Dessert were great too..

            1. This is so interesting, thanks everyone! I think db Bistro Moderne or Boulud Sud will be next on my hit list. Cheers!

              4 Replies
              1. re: TorontoJo

                I probably go to Daniel twice a year, so I'm certainly not a regular, and I've always had a stellar experience. It remains in the top 10 of NY restaurants for me. Cafe Boulud is almost as good, and less formal.
                I find Bar Boulud to be decent, particularly for the sausages and charcuterie, but rather overpriced for what you get.
                DB Bistro Moderne is a really good straight-forward bistro.
                Boulud Sud just gets on my nerves. First class airplane food served in a VIP-lounge setting.

                1. re: strangemd

                  re: Boulud Sud, if you know of an airline that serves a perfect salt-baked loup de mer, i need to change my frequent flyer miles :)

                  1. re: Simon

                    I don't deny their competence. But I find the place soulless. Perhaps it's an emotional response.

                2. re: TorontoJo

                  Have eaten at Boulud Sud three times in the last three months and it is by far my favorite of the chain. We were sold on Bar Boulud before scoring a reservation around the corner and now we are converts. The space is spare without being cold - the service is spot on and the food is delicious. GREAT!

                3. Bar Boulud: I go here for brunch before maintenee operas at the Met. In the price range I think it's best restaurant in the immediate Lincoln Center area (note: I said *in the price range*), fairly priced, excellent service.

                  Epicerie Boulud: Some things here are extremely pricy, others are quite reasonable, like their salads (easily among the best salads to go); good coffee; best yogurt parfait. When I worked at Lincoln Center I spent way too much money there.

                  DBGB: I hear tons of negative comments here, but last time I went (November 2011) I just didn't see it. First, service was really great. I changed my party size from three to four 30 minutes before the reservation and then four to five when I got to the restaurant. It was a packed night but they never hesitated to make it work without any kind of comment -- that's more than I can say about a lot of other restaurants. Food was by no means outstanding or unique, but there was nothing wrong with it and I liked the eclectic menu. They also have a pretty decent bar. I think it's a good place for a medium sized group with unadventurous eaters.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: von_levi

                    Raw bar platters at DBGB are actually very good, as is the baked alaska. The rest of the food is hit or miss.

                    1. re: The Cookbook Addict

                      The baked Alaska deserves a shout out. It's also a huge portion -- enough for 4 or 5 people to split.

                  2. Daniel: overpriced, boring, old-fashioned, stuffy

                    Cafe Boulud: inventive, fun, casual, excellent

                    DBGB Bar Area: overpriced, tiny portions, overhyped

                    DBGB Dining Room: excellent for the price, fun, hearty rustic fare.

                    Bistro Moderne: Mostly well-priced, love the chicken oyster fricasee, burger still a classic (skip the extra truffle supplements if available, not needed and honestly just blows the balance of the sandwich)

                    1. Bar Boulud has the absolutely best frisee salad. All of the usual stuff plus chicken livers. To me it is a perfect pre-theater main course.
                      Still trying to get into Boulud Sud pre-LC

                      1. I've had some good meals in the dining room at DBGB. Some of the snausages are hit-or-miss, but the proper entrées have been better than I expected / feared. And the omelette norvégienne / baked alaska and soufflé were delicious. Never tried the burgers or sundaes.

                        My last dinner at db was surprisingly mediocre with a distinctly unappealing coq au vin. I haven't been back since. Ai Fiori isn't that far away...

                        1. Daniel is consistently stellar, even when you are not a "regular". We go 1-2x/year and are never disappointed in cuisine or in service. For those who say it's stuffy, you most likely come in with that preconceived notion, perhaps due to its location. For us, we're always anticipating the next visit.

                          DBGB - Agreed. Good when opened, maybe not as good now. The burgers are good but not sensational. (In fact, I'd take JG Melon's any day.) But, for a downtown vibe, I suppose it fits the bill.

                          Cafe Boulud - Fabulous! Had dinner there again a few weeks ago and the food was (still) spot-on. This is not quite an "event" place but a perfect choice for good service and well-executed food. Notably, I had a RW meal that at one point and it was not very good. Go for the real thing.

                          Bar Boulud - We enjoyed the cheese and wine (to be expected.) Were not smitten with other offerings but would give it another shot.