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Bar Boulud - UWS

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Menu is up on menupages.com, but not at Boulud's site. In addition to the charcuterie, an extensive bistro menu - much more traditional French than dB Bistro Moderne.

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I published a review at the Pink Pig today.

 

Maybe my conclusion about the charcuterie is a little cruel, but thinking it over it's certainly honest. I can't imagine what led Ed Levine to these kinds of conclusions, except that there are all kinds of differences between a private tasting for a critic and dinner service for an anonymous guest.

 

It's not that the charcuterie was awful. Indeed, the game pie was good, and up to the standard I'd expect. But as a general proposition, you'd get better in just any French street market or good supermarket, and I'm not just talking about in Paris. I've not visited Gilles Verot's stores, but I've certainly bought charcuterie everywhere from Fauchon to the Saturday morning market in Lille, and these offerings just aren't amazing.

 

As for the rest of the story, I like old-fashioned regional French cooking, but I'm amused that the young, wealthy and fashionable are beating down the doors to eat it here when they wouldn't be caught dead at L'Absinthe. :lol:

 

ETA: You know, it's not that I'd really give the place a bad review if it had just opened as a casual bistro - it's all the fanfare about the wine and charcuterie, then the former is largely absent and the latter largely just okay.

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A. when I was there, no one was young.

 

B. when I was there, everyone was an uptowner.

 

C. it's by a celebrity chef.

 

D. "the young, wealthy and fashionable" have been eating this food for years at Balthazar (take away the charcuterie and the menus are very similar).

 

 

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A. when I was there, no one was young.

 

Not my fault. There were gaggles of young girls, young couples, etc.

 

B. when I was there, everyone was an uptowner.

 

:helpless shrug:

 

C. it's by a celebrity chef.

 

"But put the same dishes, competently prepared, in a modern room with a dining counter... stamp them with a brand name..." - as I said.

 

D. "the young, wealthy and fashionable" have been eating this food for years at Balthazar (take away the charcuterie and the menus are very similar).

 

Now that's a fair point, although I do think Bar Boulud is more heavily cuisine bourgeois than Balthazar/Pastis. There are some significant differences between the menus.

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well, the A through C is definitely true of my visit there. for D i guess i'll have to hoof it over to the pink pig

 

while i liked most of the stuff i tried better than wilf, he is totally right about the fact that so far it's been underwhelming when it comes to the hyped aspects - charcuterie & wine

 

 

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I hadn't looked at the eG thread. Some opinions there with which I can only concur:

 

I felt the rest was fairly average - needing seasoning (lapin and chicken, for example) and just not that great

 

The lapin needed salt and was almost flavorless, while the beef cheek was fine.
Interesting that "large portions" are mentioned for the entrees - I didn't find that. But the place is new, so who knows what tweaking is going on.

 

the wine list is at present miniscule

 

The eGullet discussion is here.

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Nathan, Nux - you both went on the second night it was open, a Tuesday. Reservations required? (Nathan said he had one). I would think the age-group making advance reservations for a new uptown Boulud venture on a mid-week night is going to skew upward somewhat.

 

I was there the following weekend, many people were trying to walk-in (some deciding to wait, others turning away), and the age-range was wide.

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Back to D. - I wanted to check the Balthazar menu before shooting my mouth off. One difference I had in mind was the raw bar, which Bar Boulud does not offer.

 

I also confirmed my recollection that Balthazar has a much more international "comfort" menu: spaghetti carbonara, roast chicken, ravioli, cheeseburgers, cous cous. The weekly specials - lapin a la moutarde, navarin are more like what Bar Boulud is offering every night.

 

But you're right that I should have considered the Balthazar/Pastis school of Frenchness.

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Nathan, Nux - you both went on the second night it was open, a Tuesday. Reservations required? (Nathan said he had one). I would think the age-group making advance reservations for a new uptown Boulud venture on a mid-week night is going to skew upward somewhat.

 

I was there the following weekend, many people were trying to walk-in (some deciding to wait, others turning away), and the age-range was wide.

i believe it was the first night they were serving to the public. no resy - we were walk-ins for the bar. early enough to get seats without wait (a=maybe around 6-6:30pm? we were going to dinner nearby. which i never wrote about but will). the room was full of Boulud's regulars - older, uptown crowd. totally expected.

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I had a 9:00 reservation on that Thursday (it officially opened on Wednesday).

 

I can well believe that the crowd would be somewhat different on other visits.

 

you're right that a lot of the bistro classics at Balthazar are (scheduled) nightly specials...but that's usually what I order there.

 

but places like L'Express have that type of menu too....and tend to attract a young bar-going crowd at 4 a.m.

 

http://www.lexpressnyc.com/

 

plus there's the whole coterie of (often crappy) cheap cookie cutter places in the EV doing that cooking: 26 Seats, Casimir, Flea Market.

 

in the WV, standards like Jarnac and AOC draw a young neighborhood crowd.....which you can assume is also affluent considering WV rents.

 

I thought the navarin was a large portion, especially considering the richness of the dish. my companion's coquilles st. jacque was only a couple (albeit enormous) scallops...but that dish was also $17 and technically not a main.

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I think the portion size might be varying. Count the chunks of lamb.

 

barboulud_navarin.jpg

 

I am happy to stipulate that there are all kinds of inexpensive and casual "French" bistros all over town, and I've been to all the ones you've named. My point, which was perhaps unclear, was the level of excitement about a high profile opening serving that kind of food. Strip away the Boulud brand (we're agreed on that), and serve exactly the same food in an ordinary bistro/restaurant dining room, and the crowd would yawn.

 

Hence my conclusion, it's not just about what's on the plate. The look, the name and the buzz are at least as important.

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