Fourth of July weekend with my girlfriend’s family in Maine meant two guarantees: One, I could get in some much needed beach time, and two, I would get to eat delicious fresh lobster. Little did I know that this trip would also score me an invite to Daniel Boulud’s newest Manhattan restaurant, Boulud Sud, for this past Saturday night. The weekend was record breakingly hot, which meant there was no need to leave the apartment, unless, of course, there was a delicious meal to be had.
The journey to the West side of the city was quick and painless. Emily and I managed to have great subway timing which got us across town quickly and meant we didn’t have to sweat profusely on the subway platforms. We made it to our host, Greg’s, apartment an hour before dinner for champagne and hors d’oeuvres. Having never seen Central Park from above in person, I must say I never realized how massive it was until I saw it from the 24th floor of a Central Park West apartment. With a glass of Veuve Clicquot in hand, I spent the next hour conversing with Greg, Emily, and two others joining us. Greg had sailed around the world a few years ago, literally, with Justin and Sam, the other two guests of the night, having joined him for part of it, and this, as well as the recent onslaught of food trucks in the city, drove much of the conversation. We dined on caviar and creme fraiche on rye toast, as well as slices of dry salami, and smoked salmon with dill on toast. After consuming as many of all three as I could while trying to remain “civilized” and “adult,” we then headed around the corner and into Boulud Sud.
The vibe inside the restaurant was energetic. We walked past the bar to our table toward the center of the room and I scanned the room for famous faces. Sadly no celbrity sightings tonight, despite word that the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Martha Stewart had been recently. I looked to my right and noticed that an opening into the kitchen lined the entire length of the restaurant wall. It was so cool to see the many chefs at work cooking their specialties right in front of you, providing additional pressure to not make mistakes. I turned back to the group in time to realize that they were handing me the wine list, essentially putting me in charge of the wine for the night. I took on the task and we enjoyed a bottle of Italian white with appetizers and California red with entrees. Both were good, although I am no connoisseur and based much of the decision on price.
The menu consisted of 3 sections, From the Ocean, Garden, and Farm. Each section additionally was divided into “For the Table,” Appetizers, and Entrees. We asked about the difference between the first two and were told, “For the Table” options were smaller portions meant to get some food on the table quickly. We were also served bread with olive oil and garlic. I could tell the olive oil was high quality just by the look of it and it was amazing. It made me truly miss studying abroad in Rome. We decided as a group to get a few “For the Table” options to share, as well as each get an appetizer and entree.
This was turning into quite a feast as all of the plates came out. I was able to try Grilled Blue Shrimp, Sea Urchin and Crab Tartine, and Falafel and Hummus. All were amazing but my favorite, however, was the Crispy Artichokes alla Romana that I snuck two of that came with a wonderful aioli sauce.
Next came the appetizers: I ordered the Charred Squid, which came stuffed with Chorizo, Swiss Chard, and Tapenade. I also tried a bite of Emily’s Gazpacho Andalou. The squid was amazing, but gone quickly, leaving room (somehow) for the next course. I’ve never been a fan of the idea of cold soup because for some reason it just seems like a weird concept to me that I would never be in the mood for, but with the temperature hotter than Hades, I understood the appeal on Saturday. It was refreshing, but I was content with just the one bite.
I didn’t want to stick too much to one aspect of the menu, switching to the “From the Farm” section for my entree. I managed to maintain the char theme, however, electing to go with the Charred Wagyu. It came on a bed of crushed fava beans, but the beef itself was the true star. Cooked perfectly, each bite was tender and juicy. I managed to get a bite of Pancetta wrapped Quail which was good, as well as Grilled Beef Short Rib. If I ever make it back here, the short rib would be my entree of choice. The one bite left me wanting so much more.
Greg had also ordered a side of Olive Oil Crushed Potatoes as a side, for everyone to try. These were so fantastic and I could have had the entire side order to myself. He had tried them the last time he ate here and said they were a must. I could not agree more. After cleaning our plates, which as you may have learned by now, is sooo rare for me, I decided to momentarily forget how much food I had already consumed so that I could order dessert.
Knowing the type of food Boulud makes, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that the dessert menu was filled with options just as fancy as the rest of the menu. While I could make the argument that many of the best desserts are often the simplest, I was not disappointed in the least by the Cassata. I also did not have much of an idea what would show up in front of me when I ordered (Emily’s came literally IN a grapefruit) but when the menu reads “Cassata: Chocolate Sacher, Ricotta-Cardamom Mousse, Candied Fruits, Coffee Gelato.” If you tell me you’d know it was what is pictured below, then kudos to you. I just saw chocolate, and gelato and said sure, why not?
When dessert was cleared, I had to face the sad realization that the dinner I was looking forward to so much had finally come to an end, and I had the pains of an overly stuffed stomach to remind me of this. I sadly only managed to get two pictures of the food because I didn’t want to be rude and whip out my phone every five seconds but I assure you it all looked as good as it tasted. The plates were all elegant and the presentation was clean and polished. If you are dying to see more images, their website has plenty to get your mouth watering. I would definitely recommend Boulud Sud in a heartbeat, although it can be pricey, so I was extremely thankful to not even get a glimpse at the bill. I don’t even want to speculate. Which leads me to my next question: I wonder when my parents are next visiting?
P.S. The business card has a very “hip new restaurant” feel to it. Very matchy matchy with their website. Eh, B+