I have been having some exceptional meals lately. The other night, H(usband) was invited to a dinner at Bouley to honor a long-serving colleague and I got to go too!!!
The company was superb; we were with some really convivial folks, but the food and the setting were pretty great too. There were a few glitches, though, which I’ll get to.
We walked into the restaurant through a small entryway that was covered - wall to ceiling - with small niches. Sitting in each one was a fresh apple. Their scent was unmistakable and mostly very pleasant. In the apples' defense, it WAS nearing the end of the week.
The dining room was stunning with its golden vaulted ceilings, gilded candelabras and heavily draped windows and framed art.
Look at this picture. Our table was the one at the end, in front of the window with planters filled with fresh gorgeous flowers. One clever diner in our group actually asked for the attractive, but view-blocking, candelabra to be removed, so that the folks across the table were visible. Wise move.
There were many servers per table, which I love. I appreciate the choreography of plates being set down at the same time. Plus there was not even a hint that any plate would be removed before all had finished - my number one pet peeve.
I started a trend (at our table, at least) by ordering an apple martini with green apple purée, vodka and apple liqueur. Delicious and potent.
We were served an amuse, beautifully presented in a martini glass. It was a thick purée of chilled melon soup, with a moist and flavorful chunk of smoked trout hiding on the bottom of the glass, topped with crème fraiche and a green apple purée.
The smoked trout was a revelation served with the melon soup. The soup soothed the salty taste and rough texture of the fish and the crème fraiche and green apple purée added richness and a hint of tartness to the whole machination. Really special.
What was NOT special, however, was WHEN the amuse was served. We had barely looked at our menus when the (many) servers came through with these potentially clumsy delicate glasses that needed to be placed down just so. It meant menus had to be gotten out of the way quickly and held on one’s lap, WHILE we lapped up what was in the glass. Very strange.
I’m trying to remember if most little tastes from the kitchen are sent out BEFORE one orders. Whatever...I have never had the experience of whisking my menu off the table so something could be served. And THIS was Bouley.
My starter included an organic
H’s North Carolina Pink Shrimp, Cape Cod Sea Scallops, Sweet Maine Princess Crab, Point Judith Calamari in an Ocean Herbal Broth was gorgeous.
with “early rhubarb, English peas, chervil sauce, parsnip cloud”. The more than ample amount of lobster was moist and fresh, but I neglected to grab some of the rhubarb. Darn!
I ordered my
I love flan, so the Amaretto Flan was a real winner. Just firm enough to hold a beautiful shape, but still smooth and luscious without a hint of rubbery-ness. Oh, and the flavor! What is a warmer and more delicious flavor than Amaretto? (Nothing!) And it went perfectly with the (melting) ice creams – one, maple syrup flavored and the other, a white coffee mousse amaretto ice cream with a hint of the toasty kernel of the almond.
purée with menus on our laps! Who cares if the duck wasn’t quacking (well, I did actually) and the ice cream wasn’t frozen and there was a huge gap in the service at the end? BUT the cooking was spectacular, and, in the end, that’s what came across.
THIS was a REAL buttery pound cake that leaves traces of its major ingredient all over your hands as you cut a piece. AND it was packed in a nifty cellophane bag with a sticky seal that actually worked.