French: Bouley

Eating Out


Continuing my habit of ordering the prix fixe menu at various Michelin restaurants, I recently had the Spring Lunch Menu at Bouley.  For $36, you get four courses and various extras.  I had passed by the restaurant numerous times, but it always looked a little too fancy for lil’ old me.  But if I can handle the prix fixe, so can you.

We were first presented with an amuse bouche of gazpacho with cucumber/celery sorbet:

I love for savory sorbets, and this one didn’t disappoint – it was light, refreshing and complemented the gazpacho nicely.

For my first course, I had the South of France Jumbo White Asparagus with Roasted Local Pencil Asparagus, Spring Garden Herbs, Basil Dressing In a Comté Cloud:

If there’s one way I like to eat vegetables, it’s covered in cheese, on top of cheese and crusted with cheese (for good measure).  But seriously folks, the asparagus was perfectly done, not too overcooked or soggy.  The comté clouds were mmm’ mmm’ good – soft custard pillows of the mild and sweet cow’s milk cheese.

Another first course option was the Sashimi Quality Big Eye Tuna with Marinated Cucumber, Spicy Radish, Yuzu-Miso Dressing and Meyer Lemon Terrine:

I didn’t try this, as my eating buddy guarded her plate quite closely (just kidding!) but I’m guessing from her clean plate that it was superb.

For the second course, I had the Porcini Flan with Dungeness Crab and Black Truffle Dashi (first picture).  There are so many things right with that name, let me count them:

  1. Porcini
  2. Flan
  3. Dungeness Crab
  4. Truffle

So you can see why I had to order it.  When the dish was placed in front of me, I admit it wasn’t what I thought.  I had expected a porcini-flavored flan; instead it was more of a rich mushroom broth with large pieces of crab and porcini custard on the bottom.  It was really delicious, and I found myself digging at the bottom of the copper terrine by the end.

Another second course option was the Spring Garlic and Almond Soup with Parsley Root, Parsley Purée and Roasted Black Trumpet Mushrooms:

This soup emphasized the almond more than the garlic, and according to its eater, was quite delicious – another member of the clean plate club.

For the entree course, I had the Organic Long Island Duckling Roasted with Chamomile Honey, Balinese Pepper, Chinese Mustard Cabbage, Bok Choy and Baby Flat Spinach with Buckwheat:

The duck was medium-rare, my preparation of choice. It was tender, sweet, juicy and had just the right amount of fat and skin.  I’m not sure what the yellow mash was on the left, but I’m guessing it’s the Balinese pepper.  It was a little too sweet and soft for my taste.

Another second course option was the Chatham Skate Steamed with Exotic Fruit Gribiche, Mango, Papaya, Capers, Homemade Pickles, Passion Fruit, Celery and Kumquat Purée.

With all of the entrees, the chef sent out chive mashed potatoes – that were so scrumptious in their simplicity that I was squeegeeing the bottom of the dish with my spoon.

The wait staff was also extremely diligent about keeping our bread plates full –  here I have a rosemary baguette and apple raisin bread.

The fourth course was dessert – but before it came out, we had a pre-dessert courtesy of the chef, as a palate cleanser.   We had the Beaujolais Poached Spring Rhubarb with Fresh Raspberries, Cherry Tomato and Rhubarb Granité, with Greek Yogurt Olive Oil Sorbet:

This was the second savory sorbet of the day (the first being the cucumber/celery).  The sorbet was creamy and the very light olive oil taste was a good combo with the tart rhubarb.

I ordered coffee to accompany my dessert, which was pretty standard:

However, the sugar selection that came with the coffee (below left) was pretty awesome.  In addition to the standard brown sugar and white sugar cubes,  the tray had sugar chips. I tried them all, for the sake of research.

We also got a second pre-dessert (below right), a tray of sesame crunch squares, passion fruit and coconut rum truffles, raspberry and coconut tuiles, raspberry and passion fruit macarons, strawberry and passion pates de fruits, and chocolate cookies.

By now we’ve had the pre-dessert and the pre-pre-dessert. For THE dessert, I had the Hot Caramelized Anjou Pear with Valrhona Chocolate, Biscuit Breton, Hot Toffee Sauce, and Rosemary and Tahitian Vanilla Ice Creams:

The bittersweet chocolate kept the dish from being too cloyingly sweet, while the rosemary ice cream was the third sorbet/ice cream in this meal – yum!

One of my eating buddies, going a more savory route, had the Selection of French, Italian and Domestic Cheeses:

The meal ends there, but the yumminess didn’t – on the way out, the hostess gave each of us a lemon tea cake from the Bouley bakery – deeelish!

Bouley’s service is impeccable – it is one of those restaurants that presents each course to all diners at a table simultaneously – in my case, I was dining with 3 others, so 4 waiters would serve us at a time. Fancy.  They also described each course in detail; I’m a sucker for food descriptions.   Finally, if you have any food allergies – not to worry, before we ordered, the waiter asked if any of us had any allergies and was very understanding of our requests.

If you’ve been meaning to try Bouley but were wary of the dent in your wallet, I’d definitely recommend the prix fixe lunch.

$36 Prix Fixe lunch menu – totally worth it!

163 Duane St. (at Hudson)

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  • Reply
    August 2, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Yum. I love prix fixe at fancy places!

  • Reply
    Charlene @ Sweetchic
    August 2, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Holy moly, all this for LUNCH?! It looks amazing…

  • Reply
    Mrs. Hot Cocoa
    August 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I clearly need to go eating with you. Alternatively, please send all free additional courses my way in the future.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    What a thorough and amazing review! I've been wanting to go for some time now and now it's instantly jumped up my list. Prix Fixe lunch is the way to go indeed! 🙂

  • Reply
    Ali @ His Birdie's Nest
    August 2, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Um yum! I have to admit that first picture did not look tasty, but after I read what was in it, I was ALL IN!

  • Reply
    Jina of JAC Beauty
    August 3, 2010 at 2:18 am

    I catch skates all the time but it's so intimidating & I'm afraid to clean them so I never bring them home…. but that skate filet looks yum!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2010 at 2:59 am

    @Jina, Whoa you catch skate? That's pretty cool!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Wow. I continue to be impressed by your descriptions and that FOOD. OMG. amazing.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    holy shit that was lunch? it sounds amazing, and looks beautiful! i love bouley.

  • Reply
    August 8, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    That asparagus looks DIVINE! mmm

  • Reply
    Kristin ~ Bien Living Design
    August 27, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Wow, I am seriously impressed at the price for the amount and quality of the food! Another one to add to the list…

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