Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day One Ninety Eight - Luncheon Recap - Cafe Boulud

Cafe Boulud is one of those Upper East Side landmarks. It is the sort of place that if you ask me, people still dress to go to. At the lunchtime hour, it is a nice mix of business men, "the ladies who lunch," older neighborhood ladies and gents, an occasional tourist here and there, and then everyone else. It truly is one of those places you walk in and feel that you are in a proper dining room, one stands up just a little bit straighter as they walk through the door. The simple beige dining room with spare artwork and minimalist furniture is meant to focus the diner's attention on the cuisine and focus it does.

The lunch menu is divided into four categories : la tradition or classic French cuisine; la saison, seasonal fare; le potager, the vegetable garden; and lastly le voyage, international influences. These four categories make up Daniel Boulud's specific culinary point of view. The last portion of the menu is dedicated to an extended restaurant week special, three courses for $24.07 at lunchtime, such a great deal right? Unfortunately though the restaurant week selections I don't feel completely showcased the chef's creativity to its fullest, always a tough thing when deciding to do a restaurant week deal!

So what did I have?

I was completely enamored with the section of the menu dedicated to "le potager," and decided to stick with the fresh, local, seasonal side of things. Each of the dishes clearly paid homage to the ingredients that one would find in their vegetable garden right now. I imagine if I went back in the winter months, I would instead find dishes with turnips and other root veggies. However since it is August and there is so much fresh produce that is just at its peak, that was not the case.

For my first course, I had their version of tomato gazpacho which was composed of a fresh and vibrant tomato broth that was poured over one tomato water ravioli with burrata cheese and basil oil topped with a homemade sourdough crostini. It was light, refreshing and truly magnificent. Then I had an appetizer portion of their Jersey Corn Agnolotti which came served with small slivers of green zucchini, chanterelle mushrooms, a few steamed garlic cloves, and pecorino romano. It was served in a really light caramelized onion broth. So flavorful and light were these agnolotti, they just melted in your mouth. A fantastic meal and not at all too heavy in the middle of the day.

Certainly a nice way to have lunch on this sunny Thursday afternoon. Check back tomorrow for this week's GCF.

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