Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bouley, NYC

Bouley, 9/22/2014, $55/5 Courses Lunch, French
Bouley has undergone a renovation recently. I was eager to see what Chef Bouley did to this classic place. The carpet and upholstery are new although still remains in the same color system of soft light brown and yellow. The raised floral bed was removed to make room for a few more tables. Instead, floral arrangements are used to display the flowers. The ambiance is still elegant, nice and striking. We decided to have the 5-Course Luncheon Tasting Menu for $55.

Amuse Bouche

1.Tomato and Strawberry Soup, Served with cucumber, tomato granitée, soy ice cream and fennel flower.

Chilled strawberries were at the bottom, pickled cucumber was used for another layer and then tomato granitée was placed as the top layer. It offered a very refreshing taste, perfect for a palate opener. To make the dish looks visually more presentable, an adorable Fennel flower was sitting on the top. It reminded me of the flowers usage at San Pau in Spain.

2.Kudzu Bread, Served with potato and cheese purée and topped with truffles.

Potato purée was so smooth and French cow cheese Langres was not so strong but just enough to render the “cheesy” flavor. Kudzu is also called “Japanese Arrowroot”. It’s called gé gēn in Chinese and is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs in Chinese medicine. Most important, it is a very healthy product and is one type of gluten-free starch thickener. The making of Kudzu bread would take more than two days of work. It involved fermenting of Kudzu root with yeast and sugar for two days. Then, bake the dough into bread. It was a very time-consuming process. Since this item is an Amuse Bouche, it was served with a bite size. I wouldn’t mind to have more bites of it.

Among all the Michelin Starred restaurants that I have visited in NYC, Bouley offers the best selections and quality breads. If you are a gourmet bread fan, you need to starve yourself for a day before you dine in Bouley. The varieties of bread include apricot pistachio, walnut saffron, apple raisin rolls, cinnamon raisin, roasted garlic, roasted onion, rosemary olive, sour dough baguette, sour dough olive etc. To compare with other internationally well-known starred restaurants that I have visited, Bouley is only next to El Raco da can Fabes in Spain in terms of the varieties and quality of bread. Bouley’s breads are all truly gourmet, I would be happy if I just eat Bouley’s bread only. However, I have to refrain myself from eating too much bread when dining in this restaurant because I need to save some stomach room for the good food.

1st Course – Lobster Paté, Lobster Meat, Artichoke Heart and Parsley.

I was going to order “Blini of Scottish Smoked Salmon” from the menu. But, I was offered “Lobster Paté” as a substitute because its kitchen ran out of Smoked Salmon. I had no complaint about the substitute. It was lobster meat slightly seasoned with paprika and mixed with artichoke hearts and parsley, wrapped in Serrano ham, and served with sauce made of tamarind and roasted red pepper purée and passion fruit sauce. The quality and taste of this dish is so perfect and well balanced that a similar dish of “Octopus Pastrami” that I had recently at Batard lost some luster in comparison.

2nd Course - Porcini Flan, Golden Princess crab, black truffle dashi.

I have always been very fond of this dish. Over the years I have chosen this dish nine out of ten times whenever I dined at Bouley. It had a thin layer of egg custard at the bottom. Egg custard was cooked to perfect, tender and smooth. Then, topped with two different types of crabs, left side was Princess Crab and right side was Alaskan crab. Both types of crab meat taste fresh and tender. On top of crab meat was chopped Porcini mushroom. The taste was fabulous, the preparation was perfect.

3rd Course A - Organic Long Island Duck, Organic Golden Nevada Dates, Hudson Valley Hand Milled Polenta.

Only duck breast was used in this dish. It was prepared according to my instruction of “medium rare”. It was served with wheat berries, duck prosciutto, Japanese turnip. Sauce had a strong taste of date. Mashed potato was served as a side dish. The potatoes were from NY update Finger Lake region. The mashed potatoes were so tasty that it virtually melted in your mouth.

3rd Course B - Slow Braised Kobe Style Beef Cheeks, Blue Kale Gnocchi.

My sister had Kobe Beef Cheeks. It was braised with red wine and adequately seasoned. It was sumptuous and juicy, definitely had a better quality than other types of beef. Kale gnocchi had s slight taste of kale. The mashed potatoes were also served as a side dish. It was another perfect dish.

4th Course - Chilled Coconut Soup, Pineapple granite, 10 exotic fruit sorbet, amaretto ice cream

This course was served as a palate cleanser before the formal desert. Amaretto ice cream had it refreshing almond and liqueur taste and 10 exotic fruit sorbet was wonderful. I could taste the flavor of passion fruit, pineapple, lemon and lime.

5th Course - Hot Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé, White Coffee Cloud, Coffee Ice Cream, Chocolate Mousse
Both I and my sister ordered chocolate plate. Chocolate Mousse was baked with right timing, a bit soft in the center and smooth. I loved the white coffee cloud, with a strong coffee flavor and a bit of vanilla but without the bitter taste on the tongue. This course probably gave me so much caffeine enabling me to go on with good pace for the rest of the day.

Petit Four – multiple flavor of bite-size of candies, including tea flavored chocolate, sesame cracker,
Earl Gray tea flavored chocolate truffle and hazelnut flavored chocolate truffle. They were all visually presentable and palatably superb. 

There are quite a few Michelin starred restaurants in NYC offer prix-fixed lunch; most of them are the 3-course type. Bouley’s 5-course lunch stands out in terms of ultra-attentive services, quality, quantity, variety and value. I am eager to find out any other Michelin starred restaurants offer better valued lunch.   

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