Let’s bow down to Daniel Boulud’s genius. None of his New York restaurants have ever failed. Even at the flagship Daniel, which some people find stodgy, he has managed to keep it just enough up-to-date to remain popular and relevant.
More remarkably, he did this without ever abandoning his French roots, during many years when his cuisine was not exactly fashionable. Even that Italophile and Fracophobe Frank Bruni never gave him a bad review.
Boulud renovates his restaurants after a decade or so. Both Daniel and Café Boulud went under the knife at around their tenth anniversaries. This summer, it was db bistro moderne’s turn. I’m sure it was still doing decent business, but after a dozen years it was Boulud’s most off-the-radar restaurant. It was time.
My two previous meals there were in 2004 and 2006, so I don’t recall the original very well. The interior has been totally redone by Jeffrey Beers International in mirrors and dark paneling (see Eater.com for photos). They’ve added a bar, which the original db bistro lacked. Most of the tables have tablecloths. It looks a bit corporate, but very much in Boulud’s style, and appropriate for a neighborhood that sees a lot of hotel and commercial traffic. Boulud was never the sawdust and heavy metal type.