Note: This is a review under Chef Bertrand Chemel, who has since left the restaurant. Click here for a review under his replacement, Gavin Kaysen.
A friend has just celebrated her 45th birthday. For the occasion, I decided to take her to Café Boulud, the three-star sibling of Daniel Boulud’s four-star flagship, Daniel. I’ve heard great things about Café Boulud over the years, but Andrew Carmellini, the chef de cuisine to whom it owes its reputation, jumped ship recently to open A Voce, leaving the kitchen in the hands of Bertrand Chemel.
We weren’t blown away. One can never go too far wrong with seared foie gras ($26), but there was nothing distinguished about the preparation. Peking Duck ($36) was likewise competent, and an ample portion, but wasn’t special. My friend had a similar reaction to sweetbreads ($19) and hangar steak ($34). Her cheese course ($21) was one of the comparative bargains.
One server offered a special dessert, but moments later another server told us it was unavailable. The strawberry grati ($13) was just fine, although quickly forgotten.
On the plus side, I was impressed to see that the wine list had a full page of white wine selections under $60, and another full page with reds under $60. I’ve been to plenty of restaurants less ambitious than Café Boulud where the choices under $60 were few and far between.
With so much more to choose from on the menu, I hesitate to say that Café Boulud is coasting, but both of us found the cooking uninspired, given the price point.
Café Boulud (20 E. 76th St. between Fifth & Madison Avenues, Upper East Side)