Tag Archives: prix fix

Cafe Boulud: 20 E. 76th st. New York, NY

Standard

Having been to a wonderful meal at Cafe Boulud in the past, I was really excited to see them on the  list for NYC Restaurant week . For $25, you get a 3 course prix fix meal at a restaurant that is normally rather astronomically priced. My grandmother lives right around the corner which makes it an ideal spot for a family get together. I’d made a reservation for 6 people a week prior, and called the morning of our lunch to change it to 7 people. I was given a rather odd response of, “We don’t take parties larger than 6 people. Did you already invite the 7th?” When I explained that it was a family gathering and we’d all be coming, she still said it wasn’t something they do. I went on further to say that we are a very petite family and didn’t mind squishing a bit, she went to ask the manager and finally came back with an ‘ok’.

When we arrived and were seated, the bread tray with 3 choices was brought around. The butter roll, the plain roll and sourdough bread. I decided to try all 3 of them and it’s a good thing because It’s basically what ended up making me feel full by the end of our meal. The breads were very good, but nothing to write home about. Next, an amuse-bouche of fried truffle/risotto balls were given to us. Though they were crispy, warm and melty, I couldn’t taste the truffle at all, and they were pretty unremarkable.

I shared all 3 courses with my boyfriend so that we could taste more of what they were offering. We started with the arugula salad with quince and bacon, as well as the fluke carpaccio with jalapeno. The salad was a bit over-dressed for my liking, and it was pretty boring. Just because it’s unique to use quince on top, does not make this interesting enough to win any prizes. The fluke, however, was marvelous. The flavoring of fennel and hot peppers brightened the dish and awakened the mild fish. This was the most noteworthy dish of the day.

For our first entrée we shared the winter squash ravioli with pecans, brown butter and sage. It was sweet and rich, but honestly, I didn’t think it was any more gourmet than the frozen ravioli you can buy from Fresh Direct. Our other entrée, the grouper, was a complete disaster. When I order fish at a high-end restaurant, I expect it to be exquisitely cooked and seasoned. This piece was so over-salted that it was a disaster. Did the chef accidentally spill the salt on top? The collard greens that came with it were also over-seasoned, not to mention cooked into to a soggy pile of mush. It was really kind of awful. I could not eat it and informed the waitress as such. What a disappointment.

The dessert course, as is often the case, redeemed the meal’s shortcomings. We were given a molten chocolate cake for the middle of the table (presumably because of my fish-complaint) and it was delicious. Crusty outer layer and hot, melty, rich interior. A perfect scoop of vanilla bean ice cream sat alongside it making for a lovely presentation. I will never tire of molten chocolate for dessert, passe as it may be. We also shared the chocolate mousse with pear compote and hazelnut ice cream. It came enrobed in a dark chocolate ganache layer and the inside was creamy and decadent, with the pears as a lovely unexpected touch. Finally, I moved on to the butterscotch gateaux with marscapone and devil’s food. YUM. It had little crispy bits on the cake and it was impossible to not finish it in 30 seconds flat. By then, even though we were totally stuffed but the waiter came by with little buckets of mini Madeleines and we managed to make a little bit more tummy space for them. Worth every confectioner’s sugar topped bite.

Overall, this meal was a let down. My expectations were high, true, but that’s because I’ve had such great experiences there in the past. I feel that the patrons who order from the restaurant week menu  do not really get a fair representation of what Boulud can do. Not only was the food only so-so, the portions were so itsy bitsy tiny that if I hadn’t indulged in all 3 types of bread and all of the extra desserts, I would have left still feeling very hungry. That’s not the way it should be at all! At their regular prices, this may be my last visit to Cafe Boulud.

Lure Fishbar: 142 Mercer St. New York, NY

Standard

After my CD release gig at the Bitter End (shameless plug: http://www.cdbaby.com/careyyaruss2) Gabriel and I decided to go celebrate with a cocktail and some seafood at Lure. I’d been there a few times for their $1 oyster happy hour, but never for anything else. We arrived to a full restaurant and were seated in a quiet, corner booth relatively quickly- just as soon as they could clear and re-set the table for us. No one gave us weirdo looks when we decided to sit on the same side next to each other. I often prefer ‘next to’ instead of ‘across from’, and I appreciated that they had actually set the table that way for us.

It was a pleasant surprise to see that they were participating in restaurant week- my favorite NYC ‘holiday’ (which has apparently been extended into restaurant SUMMER and is continuing through the beginning of September!!! OH HAPPY NEWS!) where 3 course lunches are $25 and 3 course dinners are $35 at a ton of the city’s restaurants. Since it was late and we didn’t want to stuff ourselves, we decided to order drinks, one prix fixe meal to share and a side of garlic spinach.

I had a strawberry/basil martini and it was STRONG. Then again, I was drinking on a mostly empty stomach. I intended to wait until I’d eaten a little bit before having a second sip. It was so delicious though, that I continued sipping on it before the food arrived. I can safely say that one cocktail was plenty for me.

We started with a raw bar sampler which included 2 each of shrimp, blue point oysters and kumamoto oysters. All were succulent and with a squeeze of lemon hardly needed any of the vinaigrette or cocktail sauce that sat next to them on the platter. There was also a tartar sauce flavored with lemon and horseradish that was tasty, but I skipped it so as to taste the purity of the fresh seafood. Our main course was the sushi sampler, 8 pieces of sushi and one salmon/avocado roll. I have to comment on the awesome ginger that came with this. It wasn’t the standard ginger, but a little bit thicker cut, fresher, and much more flavorful than most. We finished all of it before we even finished the sushi- which was also excellent. The spinach was a great accompaniment to our meal- even though It didn’t really go with it. We wanted a little something green and it was garlickylicious and cooked perfectly- not at all soggy or buttery, just fresh and wonderful.

For dessert we had the warm chocolate cake with salted caramel ice cream and popcorn brittle. Now I personally don’t care at all that little, plain, round, warm, melty, chocolate cakes are no longer considered hip or cool enough to be at fine restaurants. Apparently, they are oh-so 90’s ,but as far as I’m concerned, that is just snobby bullshit. It’s a perfectly delicious piece of heaven. How can that possibly go out of style? I guess they add the trendy salted caramel ice cream as a more current touch, and it certainly was tasty- but as far as I’m concerned, warm, melty, chocolate things are always fine by me, with or without of-the-moment ice creams. Aside our cake sat the most decadent piece of dark chocolate, with ‘congratulations’ written on the top. Our waitress was rather awesome and sweet- giving me a big, heart-felt congratulations and asking me about my music. I was really touched that she was interested. How thoughtful is my awesome boyfriend to have mentioned to the waitress that it was a special night for me? Very very sweet. Just like my yummy dessert.

 *photos courtesy of Gabriel Sanders. http://www.magicsandbox.com/enter/Magic_Sandbox.html (except for 
the one of both of us that our lovely waitress took)