Saturday, May 28, 2011

Go West, Young Man; Upper West, That Is

The Upper West Side is not someplace I normally trek to for dinner. It's far from our apartment on the lower east side and…it's the Upper West Side. I mean, not to sound snooty or anything, and there is a Jacques Torres chocolate up that way, but...

This past week I was up that way so I got to try the new Daniel Boulud restaurant
Boulud Sud…twice. My first visit was a walk-in and the second visit was because I liked it so much that first time I wanted to bring Significant Eater there for our "date" night.

Early in the week three of us were in a bit of a hurry (on our way to an Elvis Costello show), so after we found our first choice (Lincoln) closed for a private event, we decided to give Boulud Sud a try. Sitting at the bar, we limited ourselves to the appetizer and small plate portions of the menu - and a degree in menu deciphering is practically a necessity here as in many places around town, what with their small plates from the sea, appetizers from the earth and mains from outer space. But with a little help from our bartender, he of the shaken Negroni, we plowed through six or seven or eight dishes without a problem.

Sicilian sardine escabeche was delicious, just the right amount of sweet and sour to compete with the sardines. The stuffed squid was simply some of the most tender squid I've tasted in quite some time. The standout for me though, amongst the seafood small plate/apps was the sea urchin and crab tartine, simply because it was sea urchin and crab, poised on a "seaweed toast" if my memory serves me correctly.

From the earthy and meaty parts of the menu, fried artichokes were served with an aioli that had the 3 of us scraping the bowl. Rabbit porchetta was, as one of our trio suggested, the best way to use rabbit, and served alongside were strips of white and green asparagus. And the vitello tonnato wasn't a bad way to use vitello either. Since socca was not available on its own (though it accompanies a couple of the dishes), I had to order a side of panisse, the lovely fried chickpea flour cake also from the south of France. Four or five hulking panisse were stacked on the plate, ready to be dipped into their accompanying sauce. Think of a french fry - these were better.

Returning with Significant Eater a mere 3 nights later, this time a table was in order. Although we did take a peek at Lincoln and here we are from the outside looking in...

A frizzy bottle of Txakolina was our preferred drink, even though it was a bit overpriced at $55. And since I'm by no means a wine expert, I can only say that the $55 gets you drunker if you have cocktails than the bottle of wine manages to do; I mean, if that's what you're drinking for.

Back to the food. Our excellent waiter Tim (and DB really does trump up the service when he opens a new place; there was more floor staff than I've seen in a long time) suggested we'd love the cheese and olive small plate and we did...

Whipped ricotta topped with sumac and oregano vied with the grilled Manouri cheese and tomato confit for my fave of the trio, while SE scarfed down the duo of tapenades in the middle.

Since one of the first questions SE asked me was whether we'd be able to have something I'd already tried, I scoffed and again ordered the stuffed squid…

It was still stuffed with chorizo, swiss chard and Valencian rice, and still good. As was this shrimp dish, full of briny flavor and smoky from the grill...

So that we'd make sure to get our fair share of veggies, we also ordered a Salade Tropezienne

Consisting of shaved fennel and celery atop a puree of artichoke, the salade was perfectly dressed and topped with some fried artichoke for crunch. Not your everyday salad, but I'd eat one every day if I could.

Finally, for an entrée, we split a main course, the Za'atar baked cod…

The fish was cooked just right, barely translucent in the middle, and it was served alongside mussels and a light vegetable fricassee. And not to be outdone, Sig Eater ordered the panisse, since she was jealous that I'd had them and she hadn’t. They were just as good as the last time.

Dessert was another splitsville; we had the Cassata. A traditional Sicilian dessert, this was an excellent interpretation composed of a chocolate sacher enrobed by house-made coffee gelato and a light ricotta mousse flavored with cardamom. There's a great picture on the website, if you'd like to take a look-see.

A couple of things to note; the bread basket is lovely, and refilled as soon as it approaches emptiness. That's a nice touch. A not-so-nice touch is that the prices went up right between my first and second visit. Within 3 days, every menu item that we ordered (except for the dessert, which at $13 may already be causing some double takes) was either a dollar or two more, generally two. Maybe that's because everything was so reasonable to begin with? Whatever the reason, be prepared…you can sit at the bar and probably eat pretty nicely (fill up on bread!) for $50. But at a table, with a bottle of wine, expect to go a lot higher. Maybe it's a good thing Boulud Sud is on the Upper West Side and not in our neck of the woods.

No comments:

Post a Comment