Fulton – The Perfect Neighborhood Joint

I had a really great meal at a totally unsuspecting UES spot recently – y’all need to know about it.

20140608_122059 Fulton is a bright, spacious restaurant on the Upper East side that specializes in fresh seafood. It has a laid back vibe that is nice enough for a brunch with friends but casual enough for a brunch with friends who have kids. It hits that sweet spot of upscale but chill. It’s modern and clubby feeling – like a very updated version of a steak and seafood place.  20140608_124253 Fish burger

An underwhelming name for a fabulous dish. The fish burger is made of halibut and cod, and is bound loosely so it is soft and moist, interspersed with fresh dill and lemon zest.  The patty is made of large, meaty pieces of fish so it’s not mushy or homogeneous. It’s just like eating a light, fresh piece of fish but with a side of lemony, creamy hollandaise. And a soft, fluffy potato bun. And let’s be honest…eating things in burger form is just always a good idea. The accompanying salad is light and fresh (although the golden brown French fries are an even more craveworthy side), and the portion is enough to fill you but no enough to require Pepto Bismol.
20140608_124328 Smoked salmon tartine with roe and cucumbers

THIS is the ideal summer meal. A crispy crostini layered with a thin schmear of creme fraiche, thinly sliced and peeled cucumbers, and velvety smoked salmon. High on the lush texture, low on the smoky taste. It’s topped with briny pearls of salmon roe, taut and shiny with salty flavor. This is simple but well done and I would get it again and again.

20140608_124337 Shrimp and grits

The least inspired of the dishes that we tried. The shrimp are sweet and snappy and the grits are well cooked – creamy and comforting. However, they aren’t seasoned the way that I like shrimp and grits. Not enough butter, not enough garlic, not enough…N’alwins.

20140608_122054 Fulton is such a sleeper hit. It’s the PERFECT neighborhood joint. The prices are fair, the service is friendly and competent, the surroundings are comfortable, and the food is really great. I can’t get over that fish burger..it’s just phenomenal. I could totally come here if I was in the hood or looking for a large, family friendly spot where the food really measures up.

Delicious Bites in the Big Apple and Beyond

SO…

There are a few more honeymoon recaps (I know, we kept eating and staying at hotels…it would be worth it to get divorced and remarried JUST to get a second honeymoon!), but before I continue on, I wanted to let you know a few delicious dishes around town that can’t get lost in the vacay mix!

20140622_134029 Lunch buffet at Thali

This Indian restaurant in New Canaan (where my sister is currently starring as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray!) is legit. I would never think to visit this pseudo Asian-fusion looking restaurant – it looks way to chi-chi and wine oriented to have really authentic Indian food – but wow, is it fantastic. The buffet is actually better than most order-from-the-menu Indian restaurants, and even more impressive, this covers food from all over the gigantic country of India. Feather light, made to order dosas filled with fenugreek scented mashed potatoes. Saag with creamy paneer, soft and spicy Manchurian cauliflower, and smoky, garlicky daal. The service is friendly and helpful and the food…once again…is dangerously delicious.

Wear spandex pants. image (5) Red Farm’s udon noodles with short ribs

This meal was embarrassingly disappointing, but the noodles were a bright spot. I would actually go back just for them. The noodles themselves are thick and chewy, with a wonderfully wheaty taste that is balanced by a sweet, salty sauce that is neither too cloying nor too bland. It’s like the greatest Cantonese lo mein of your youth, but with way better noodles and some light notes of cilantro and sweet sugar snap peas. Plus that beef…wow. So tender and mild that it almost seems like Wagyu – this really is “melt in your mouth.” Its an ideal match for the noodles because it doesn’t totally overwhelm the noodles’ natural taste. Totally memorable.

cheesy garlic bread Cheesy garlic bread at Bistro le Steak

This neighborhood joint is a reliable, if slightly overpriced eatery that is just fine if you are in the neighborhood and want a quick, reliable, tasty bite. However, if you want to really indulge in a guilty pleasure, order the cheesy garlic bread. This stuff is just awesome drunk food served in a sober setting. Garlicky, buttery, parsley flecked bread, toasted until it is crunchy and warm. Then, it’s served on a mild, Gorgonzola fondue that is salty and just funky enough to please blue cheese lovers. It’s super indulgent and although I could easily eat this entire plate, you might want to share it as an appetizer. 

Then again, you might not. That would make me like you more. 

The Surprisingly Delicious Il Mulino

I try never to listen to reviews. I don’t trust them because one man’s Dos Caminos is another man’s Taco Bell – and who is to say which one that man prefers.

Sometimes this gets me into trouble. Sometimes, it’s a draw. And sometimes, it lads me into a wonderful meal for which my expectations were really low.

Such was my delightful experience at the uptown Il Mulino.

Il Mulino is a veritable institution in the west village. It’s slightly easier to get a reservation there than its inspiration, Rao’s. It’s a club to which everyone belongs, as long as you come in with a reservation, which will likely be on the very early or somewhat late side.

Hey, I could be down with some prosecco at 6pm.

The vibe and atmosphere is old school elegance - break out your Birkin bags, and no ripped jeans, gents. The lighting is so low that even we, four young and healthy people, had to break out our iPhone flashlights. But you won’t read your menu for the first few minutes that you are there anyway.

First, you will order a bottle of wine from the rather small and overpriced list – how can you not? It’s such a celebratory feeling being ushered to your tiny, lamp lit table by a tuxedoed Italian man who spouts nothing but compliments, bella this and prego that….you need to drink to keep that buzz going!

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Then, you will receive a chunk of parmesan from a large wheel. It’s nutty, salty, and a little sweet.

Then, there is the spicy hard salami.

Then there is the zucchini, oily and addictive.

Don’t forget the mussels bruschetta, where the mussels are a little blah but the crostini is downright fabulous. Tart, juicy, sweet, and a little earthy. Just a hint of garlic. Sorry for the lack of photos – toldja that the restaurant was insanely dark!

I wish I got a photo of the overflowing bread baskets. Yes, multiple. Spicy, crispy foccacia, fresh doughy tomato foccacia, wheat country bread, and garlic bread so cheesy, savory, and delicious that it must be baked with pure crack cocaine.

Yeah, it’s that tasty.

Only then do you get to look at the impossible-to-decipher-in-this-darkness menu.

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Porcini ravioli

Keep your oysters and other aphrodisiacs. This is the sexiest dish that I ave ever eaten. It’s swimming in a creamy, truffle inflected sauce. It’s firm but pillowy and light on the inside, with cheesy, woodsy, meaty porcini mushrooms. The pasta is tender and the serving is gigantic – easily enough for 2 light eaters. It’s rich and heavy in the most wonderful way. It’s almost heady with all of those mushrooms and cream. It’s intoxicating. 

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Chicken alla Romana

The most shocking of the night, because it tastes so home cooked. If you told me that your nonna was back there cooking it, I would believe you in a heartbeat. The most tender chicken in a lemony, almost velvety sauce with capers, mushrooms and artichoke hearts. The chicken reaches that magical point of fall apart tender but not yet mushy. It’s so bright and comforting – it’s really tasty in every way. It doesn’t come with a side dish, but get some more of the garlic bread to sop up that wonderful sauce. Trust me, you will want it all.

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Veal Milanese

A lighter option to veal Parmigiano. Thin, wonderfully tender veal that is so soft and sweet that my fiance announced that it must have been smuggled into the country, because he had never tasted veal like this. It has a crunchy, thin breading that isn’t at all soggy and is well seasoned with salt and dried oregano. It’s covered with fresh tomatoes that are so sweet and juicy that it reminds me that the crap I have been eating all winter is finally giving way to spring and summer fruit. I would order this again, but would also like to try the much more sinful Parmigiano version.

Il Mulino gets an unfair rap as overly pricey and subpar. It was absolutely fair for the amount and quality of food that we got. The servers asked us if we wanted appetizers or dessert but did NOT push us. We were not rushed, pressured to upgrade our wine selection. or made to feel in any way that we were less than because we only ordered entrees. We were even gifted some fig grappa at the end to entice us to return. The service was efficient, warm, and genuine. It was an excellent meal, and though not a cheap one, a fairly priced one.

So even though I don’t  follow reviews, you should follow mine. For that time when you don’t  have to pinch pennies, Il Mulino is too delish to miss!

Amaranth – Lunchtime Bargains for Millionaires

What’s the last time that you ate at a restaurant that was so obviously shi-shi that you felt weird taking pictures?

For me, it was last week. I have taken pictures from Paris to Tokyo and never blinked twice, but this was a little different.

It was ladies-who-lunch different.

We wandered into Amaranth because we were starving and it was in front of our eyes. When we arrived at noon it was empty but an hour later, the place was packed to the rafters. It’s a standard brassiere – small tables shrouded in white, a mirrored bar, and servers who are efficient but not overly friendly.

It’s the clientele that gives this joint its bite. Women dressed from head to toe in Hermes. Men wearing smoking jackets and riotous scarves. Children with the latest ipads and dogs with rainboots that cost as much as my wedding gown.

You can imagine why I didnt’ want to be conspicuous in my Target shirt and Ross purse.

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Bread

Fresh, hot, soft – served with mild and fruity olive oil. Not exactly reinventing the wheel here, but tasty nonetheless.

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Lentilles au vianigrette

Delicious. Al dente and meaty with that grassy, earthy taste that only lentils have. They are mixed with a sharp, shallot-laced vinaigrette that brightens the dish. This is a classic dish in France, and though it would be better here if they added some salty, crispy lardons, it is still a very serviceable rendition.

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Omelette with salad and fries.

The quintessential French lunch. This version is perhaps a bit overcooked on the bottom – a true French omelette never has even a hint of brown – but the feta is wonderfully creamy and smooth and the onions are cooked to a soft, sweet jam. The salad alongside is lightly dressed in a vinaigrette similar to the lentils and the accompanying frites are a little salty but crispy, hot, and fresh.

This meal has some missteps, but its reliable if you are in the neighborhood. It’s overpriced to me, but, then, if I was buying the clothing that these women were wearing, I would think that this lunch was a steal, too. And then I might feel okay taking some pictures with flash.

Well, I would still be shopping the outlets for those designer duds. So maybe not.

Decadent Desserts at Payard

When I happened upon Payard with some of my friends last weekend, I could have just walked right by and gotten some frozen yogurt down the block.

Fro yo is healthy, it’s tasty, and it’s cheap.

But then you would have had to check my body for foreign hosts because there is of course no way in HELL that I would ever pass up pastries for frozen yogurt.

Francois Payard isn’t just some flash in the pan. He is the man who created perhaps the world’s most sought after flourless chocolate cake, the man who brought fine French pastries to the masses before cronuts were even a twinkle in a rat’s eye, and the man who would not let a rent dispute shutter his much-loved cafe.

The newer version of his eponymous restaurant and bakery is sleek and bright, with a friendly, casual atmosphere that belies its pedigree. We dined there with a family with kids,a couple on a date, and our rag-tag foursome – it’s really one size fits all.

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Macarons

Sadly, these don’t measure up to my favorite macarons or even those at Francois’s more casual outlet, FPB. These must have been made in the morning and are a little dried out and chewy – not the airy, crackly, rich confections that I prefer. However, the flavor is dead on. The passion fruit chocolate is fruit forward and tangy with smooth, creamy chocolate ganache in between the cookies. I would try these once more, but only if they were freshly made.

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Tarte Dulce de Leche

Oh, so THIS is why the man is a living legend. Buttery, nutty crust that reminds me of an especially rich, refined version of those addictive almond cookies at Chinese restaurants. It’s covered in gooey caramel that is more like buttery toffee and less like the rather bitter, burnt stuff that sometimes passes as caramel. Atop THAT is whipped cream so light and fluffy that it seems like a health food. It’s fragrant and lightly flecked with vanilla beans…perfect with a couple of crunchy candied almonds on top. This is elegant, varied in texture, and delicious.

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Geroge V

A grown up Milky Way candy bar. Dark, sticky, rich, dense. Creamy, chocolatey, shiny, and moist. Decadent in every way, but I could only eat about 2 bites before I cried uncle. This is all chocolate and caramel, with just a hint of nuttiness at the very end of the bite.  This is incredibly rich and heavy. Just the way I like ‘em.

Come here for some wonderful, elegant desserts, but get them to go. The service is worse than bad. It’s scattered, uniformed, and very sloowwww. However, the desserts are really special. I would get them for any dinner party or elegant event. I could probably wreck one of those tarts all on my own, but I’m not supposed to admit that, right?

So glad that I never choose the fro yo.

Texas de Brazil and Maoz – My Favorite Salad Bars!

Really quickly: 2 different restaurants that I am loving:

1. Maoz
20140330_122755 This casual, counter service import from Amsterdam has some killer French Fries, well spiced shawarma, and the make-your-own falafel sandwich or salad of your DREAMS. A killer salad bar with cumin scented carots, tangy cabbage salad, tabbouleh, roasted cauliflower, and a litany of sauces. Creamy tahini, cooling yogurt, garlic sauce so potent that it might make or break you night, hot sauce so potent and fiery that it makes your toes curl. Herby, bright broccoli and fresh cilantro laden salsa. Don’t forget the inexpensive but delicious hummus and babaganoush you can add to your salad bar. And, of course, the fried eggplant, with silky innards and a crispy shell.

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The falafel sandwich starts like this…

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and should end like this, covered in pickles, sauces, and vegetables from the salad bar. It’s all included (one trip only, except for more sauce), so don’t worry. The falafel is piping hot, fragrant with cumin and parsley, an served in a fluffy pita with crisp romaine. This inexpensive place ain’t Israel, but it surely feds the yen when I am stateside.

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2. Texas de Brazil

Remember I said I had been to a Brazilian steakhouse? Well, I am now obsessed with them and this is the best one I have been to by FAR! Modern, clean (though, truth be told, a little “mall chic”) decor, extremely well informed waitstaff, and the food is about 19 times better that the other place. A smaller but better curated salad bar filled with imported cheeses, all varieteis of spicy peppers, a soup of the day, creamy pottaoes gratin, and a host of other items. Don’t miss those tiny red peeppers that are spicy enough to rip off your top layer of lip skin or the creamy, sweet poatoao salad – almost as good as Hawaiian potato salad!

20140329_194033 The meat here is even better than the salad bar. Tender lamb chops, garlicky sausage, and the flavorful, perfectly medium rare house cut ribeye are standouts. Avoid the pork products, but everything else is commendable. And don’t miss the mini chicken Parmesan that comes around on skewers towards the end of the meal.

 I am never going to fit into my wedding gown, am I?

 

Dessert Scavenger Hunt

Let’s play a little guessing game today.

Here is a spot that is insanely expensive and was featured in a movie.

20140329_212534 It usually has a very long line and a rather surly front of house staff (though the servers are often excellent).

If you come here on a rainy night, your chances are MUCH better of getting in sooner than later.

There is no liquor menu and if you come here for the savory food, then congratulations, you are the only one who has done that…ever.

20140329_212550 (1) There are a ton of impostor Tiffany lamps and wacky things for sale as you wait – thinks like purses with eyeballs and Troll hair and muffin tins that look like jeans (so you can bake “muffin tops”…get it?).

The main event often looks like this:

20140329_213835 The best hot fudge ever…sorry Eddie’s. With soft vanilla ice cream and cake so dense and rich that it feels like a tiny bomb in your stomach.

The whipped cream is piled high and sweet.

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The Can’t Say No Sundae  might be even better. Same ice cream, same whipped cream, same hot fudge, so substantial and rich that it hardens against the cold ice cream, but this time…there are fresh bananas. And peanut butter pie. Smooth, nutty, creamy peanut butter pie.

I wouldn’t kick it out of bed for eating crackers.

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Frozen white hot chocolate.

The piece de resistance. The most vanilla-scented, smooth, purely milky taste in the world. It’s not too thick or too watery – you can drink it with a spoon. It’s mild enough for a baby to enjoy and tasty enough for 4 adults to fight over the last sip. It’s the best parts of white chocolate (sweet, buttery, rich) with none of the bad parts (waxy, overly sweet, plastic-y).

And it comes showered in edible glitter.

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Of course, this joint is Serendipity 3. It’s overdone, it’s overpriced, and they make you order at least $8.50 worth of food per person, so you are sure to over-eat and get a stomach ache. But, I have to say…for nostalgia or maybe even just for taste…it’s damned good and fun.

Skillet o’ Cake at David Burke Fishtail

So, this weekend, I made some awesome Mexican corn dip, ate the best deviled egg of my life, and had some kick ass Chinese food at my bridal shower (spoiler alert – Congee Bowery has not only an awesome private room but some of the juiciest pork dumplings in town).

But this isn’t about any of those piddly stories.

This is about the most whimsical things that I ate this weekend.

This is about Fishtail’s Skillet of Cake.

Fishtail is David Burke’s elegant UES restaurant. It’s loud and upscale, just like all of his places, but it has a casual bar in the front area. You can sit there and have a beer or sit at one of the high booths with your friends and order this expensive, indulgent, childhood kickback dessert. I didn’t even take any pictures of the interior because the bar area is really just the standard picture of a nice UES restaurant bar.

Little did I know what I was in for.

They call it a can o’ cake, but it’s really a skillet. You order it in the large size for 4 people and then it takes about 20 minutes to make.

IMG_20140131_212835_904 Don’t worry, while you wait, you get to lick the beaters, just like at Grandma’s house. The cake batter is dark and chocolatey, whith a smooth texture. It’s so fun to sit in this fancy restaurant and lick cake batter off of the beaters. And, of course, eavesdrop on all of the second dates going on at the bar.
IMG_20140131_215406_039 When the cake is ready, it comes to you on a small side table. A warm skillet of brownie cake, homemade vanilla ice cream, a can of whipped cream, hot fudge, and puffed rice. Let the server divvy up the cake and give you the works.  IMG_20140131_215611_771 This is pretty much a souped-up version of a brownie sundae. It’s all warm, soft, dark chocolate cake, airy whipped cream, and some of the finest vanilla ice cream in recent memory. That ice cream is homemade and it’s really something else. It has a caramelly, buttery note that made me think that there was bourbon int here somewhere. The server swears that it’s just vanilla, but let’s be honest – there is obviously some addictive substance in there that they aren’t telling us about. And that’s okay – as long as they keep this on the menu, they can be as secretive as they want. The cake is reminiscent of Duncan Hines in the best way possible – it’s soft and warm – just like you remember. This is totally nostalgic. It’s expensive to be sure, but what a fun way to cap off an adult night on Manhattan’s UES. Plus, if you split it between four people, it’s only about $10 a person after tax. I have spent more than that on adult desserts that aren’t as whimsical or tasty.

And they surely don’t come with a side of raw batter to enjoy!

NYC’s Best Lazy Buffets

I happen to love a good buffet. The hedonistic, gluttonous, slightly(more than slightly?) trashy experience of eating mountains of sushi, prime rib, eggs Benedict, and “gelato” until your stomach is distended and the clock has turned from AM to PM.

But…there is something a  little better than the standard buffet, which also includes lines, sneeze guards, and less than optimally heated food.

That would be the lazy person’s buffet.

Where the endless food is just brought to you. You don’t even need to get up from your chair. Expandomatic pants are all that’s needed.

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Churrascaria Plataforma

Have you ever been to a Brazilian steakhouse? Because if not – and you eat meat – you have been missing one of life’s greatest pleasures. A pleasure that starts with cheesy, puffy yuca rolls, like doughy gougeres. That progresses to a massive salad bar filled with vegetables, pasta,  spicy bean stew, and other items. A pleasure that reaches its savory climax in the parade of meats. Servers come to your table and slice you different cuts of freshly roasted meats – as much as you can handle. Literally – you have a little token that you make red when you want to stop eating, but as long as it’s green…you keep getting fed. And this stuff ain’t hot dog meat, either. We are talking smoky pork chorizo, garlicky rubbed steak, salty and wonderfully rare prime rib, Parmesan crusted juicy pork chops, and every kind of rib you can imagine. Don’t forget the bottomless mashed potatoes, fried bananas, and french fries. And don’t forget to come early…you can stay as long as you want and with food this tasty and at a price this reasonable-you will want to eat as much as you can.

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Moti Mahal Delux

This New Delhi export makes the UES the best brunch neighborhood in town. For just $15, you get intricately flavored, delicately balanced Indian food – as much as you can handle, and then some. Pungent bhel poori, creamy tikka masala, buttery dahl, fragrant saag paneer, fresh naan…and the menu changes every weekend. If you gett he brunch special, you get what the Michelin-recommended chefs want to make that day. And if they would eat it themselves, why wouldn’t you eat it? The food is not heavy or salty – it’s complex in flavor and texture, and is highly recommended for the most discerning Indian food connoisseurs (not that I’m discerning, but I have had a lot of tandoori in my life…just saying). Do NOT miss out on the gulab jamun for dessert – the yeastiest, warmest, softest doughnut I have had in  many a moon. As added bonuses, service is excellent and the menu is very vegetarian friendly.

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Mish Mosh at Sugar and Plumm

Not a buffet, but it might as well be…do you SEE the size of this thing? Vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, potato chips, gummy bears, chocolate candies, whipped cream, blondies, and chocolate sauce…and a spoon.

Or 2 spoons if you want it to be more of a meal with loved ones and less of an ode to lactose tolerance and gluttony.

Whatever floats your boat.

It isn’t cheap, but it is insanely decadent (LOVE those salty chips!), and where else can you go at 9 PM and see an entire menu filled with desserts, fit for an out-of-town guest (for those times when a diner just won’t cut it)? It’s over the top, but then, that’s just what buffets are.

Especially lazy person’s buffets.

I’ll meet you at the table.

Moti Mahal Delux on Urbanspoon

Cafe Boulud – Practically Perfect in Every Way

You know those times when you meet up with a couple of friends for a casual dinner, then one bottle of prosecco later decide to go all out and scrap the relaxed plans to dine at a Michelin starred chef’s intimate bistro?

I didn’t know those times till last weekend.

Now I do know those times. And spontaneity plus foie gras equal my best dining experience in many moons.

In fact…it might have been a perfect meal. 

IMG_20131011_202954_942 When we made a last minute reservation at 8:30 on a Friday night at Cafe Boulud, we didn’t know what to expect. Wouls it be overly stuffy or filled with octogenarians? Would it be super casual and not really deserving of the Boulud name?

It was both and neither. It was casual enough to wear nice jeans but still demanded a button down jacket or an elegant blouse. It was filled with people mostly in their 60s, but the vibe was anything but stoic. It was bustling and humming and all the people there, regardless of age, looked like they were enjoying the best time of their lives.

Just one bite of the food, and you will see why.

Quick note: Use the sommelier. We had an excellent experience, where we were recommended a few excellent wines in a range of prices so we didn’t feel embarrassed or bad about our lack of knowledge or how much we wanted to spend. Bravo! IMG_20131011_203559_471 Truffle arancini

A tasty amuse bouche to start the evening. Piping hot risotto balls, with a thin breadcrumbed crust and a wonderfully al dente risotto interior. Nothing mushy here – individual grains of rice blended with salty cheese and the heady, aromatic flavor of truffles. This is a fantastic way to start the evening because it enlivens all of your senses – you hear the crunch of the breadcrumbs, you see the golden-brown balls, you you smell that unmistakable truffle, you feel the warmth of the ball, and you taste…heaven. These were a touch on the salty side, but if you are like me and like that – you are in for a treat!

IMG_20131011_205754_820 Bread

So worthwhile – don’t take just one slice. The savory, pleasantly briny rosemary olive, the sweet cranberry walnut, and the whimsical pumpkin bread are all winners. The pumpkin bread is a total sleeper hit – who would expect a piece of bread to taste SO MUCH like grandma’s punkin pie? Slather it with the sweet butter on the table and you might just want to order more of this and cancel your first course.

But, please, don’t do that.  IMG_20131011_210648_119 Veloute de champignon with warm barley, wild mushrooms, and parsley cream

After she tasted this, my dining companion actually looked at me dumbfounded and said “I couldn’t believe it when you ordered soup. But now, I get it.”

She ended up almost stabbing me with the butter knife to get the last of the soup.

This is picture perfect. A balance of earthy, creamy, warming, and light enough for a first dish. The barley is nubbly and textured in the smooth, deep,  rustic soup. It tastes wild and out there, but the presentation is totally refined. The parsley cream is cool and airy next to the dense soup,  adding a touch of freshness to the dish. if you thought you liked soup, you have to get this. If you think you don’t like soup, get this.

Then admit you were wrong.

cafe boulud foie via

Seared foie gras with almond beignets, seckel pear, and tonka bean

The best foie gras I have eaten in NYC. No question. Seared with such a thick, caramelized, salty sweet crust that it almost stands apart from the interior. And, oh, that interior. That liquidy, buttery, meaty, delicate, otherworldly interior. The accompaniments are lovely here – sweet and complimentary – but this is all about that seared lobe of foie. Unforgettable. Unimprovable. Literally perfect in every. Single. Way. 

IMG_20131011_213257_815 Duck breast with brussels sprouts

So well cooked. This duck eats like a steak – it’s served in a hearty portion and thick, meaty slices. It’s very mild and tender enough to cut with your butter knife. The skin is crisp and sticky sweet, but not so hard that you can’t bite it. The meat is unbelievably juice and fulfilling – you need to really be a carnivore to love this. The sprouts are crispy and caramelized, but this is really all about the duck.
IMG_20131011_213312_359 Crispy polenta

What the hell have I been making all of these years? These bites are so crispy, creamy, airy, buttery, corny, tasty WONDERFUL that the name polenta just seems disrespectful. Especially when smothered in garlicky, onion-y jam. I mean come on…this is one of the best bites of the night. How come they aren’t called ”so tasty that once you take a bite, you will forget about the government shutdown” bites? 

IMG_20131011_221154_322 Chocolate mousse with coffee ice cream

More fudge than mousse, this is a chocolate desert that really makes you sit up and pay attention. It’s halfway between low and high brow. It’s creamy and smooth like the chocolate bars or your youth, but has a pleasant bitter edge and creamy coffee ice cream that keeps it from venturing into saccharin territory. It’s an uncomplicated and comforting end to a luxurious meal.  IMG_20131011_221220_980 Oh no, wait…this is the end.

These warm, lemony madeleines that are just like the ones in Palm Beach.

That is to say, perfect.

How many times did I say the word “perfect” in this review? Too many? No, too few. Too few times to describe the expert, unobtrusive yet always alert service. Too few to explain the depth of flavor in every dish. Too few to relate the way the warm, bubbly atmosphere infected our table and made for a truly fun and delicious time. Too few times to relate how the price is SO fair for the service and food that you get.

It really was a pretty damn perfect meal. 

Café Boulud on Urbanspoon