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Bouley at Lunch Time

December 16, 2011

Don’t you love it when you discover a good deal?  A few months ago, I heard about Bouley‘s lunch tasting menu from a number of people simultaneously.  The lunch prixe fix fluctuate and currently costs $55, consisting of a 5 course meal with excellent choices in an elegant environment.  What more can you ask for in a city where a mediocre meal at any restaurant can run you upwards of $50 or more?

Last weekend, when YS came for a visit from Boston, we chose to open a weekend of culinary adventure with lunch at Bouley’s.  It has been over 3 years since TC and I had saw YS and we had a lot of catching up to do so a leisurely meal was the perfect setting.  Walking into the foyer of Bouley, our senses were pleasantly greeted by an embrace of warm apples and spices.  The entire room was lined by apples, one next to another, basking in the morning sun.  I was a little reluctant to go on inside to start the meal but my stomach won by crying just a little louder.

The three of us have such similar tastes that we all ended up with the exact dishes from the tasting menu.  A little bowl of butternut squash with chestnut and pine nuts to start the meal.  It was subtly sweet, one last bite of autumn.

The carpaccio of tuna, kampachi and amber jack looked like thin sheets of silk among a bed of tomato and pesto.  The fish was so tender and refreshing with hints of sweetness.

Next was a dish that I had been looking forward to since first hearing about this meal.  The porcini flan came in a copper vessel with its own little lid.  Lifting the dome revealed a fragrant steamy bowl of incredibly light flan topped with puree of porcini mushroom and studded with large chunks of dungeness crab.  The flan quivered a little as I brought each spoonful to my mouth and melted as soon as it hit my tongue.  I really wished the bowl was endless.

Before our main course, a server dropped by our table with a cart of bread.  Can you believe it that Bouley has a cart just for bread?  They were all made in house and we had a choice of 8 to select from.  I went with the fig and honey and boy, there is nothing like fresh bread.

The last savory course was a roasted Long Island duck glazed with white truffle honey.  While I usually shy away from sweet accompaniments with my meats, the honey added just the right amount of sweetness.  Even though I would have preferred for it to be cooked just a slight bit under, the dish was still quite delicious.

A refreshing melon soup with fresh ricotta sorbet helped cleanse our palate and get it in shape for the actual dessert.

Finally, the grand finale – a delicate Valrhona chocolate souffle with white chocolate coffee cream and chocolate sorbet.  I will tell you a secret – I have never had a chocolate souffle until that day and yes, I have missed out.  This was a wonderful composition in opposites: the souffle light in texture but so dark in flavor; the sorbet cold while the souffle hot and molten in the center.  My only regret was not saving enough room to completely devour the dish.

We lingered a little longer and our waiter was more than happy to oblige.  As we were leaving, we were each given a little surprise from the chef.  Peeking inside the little white bag, we found a dense loaf of pound cake drizzled with lemon syrup, perfect for breakfast the next day.  Now, wasn’t that a great deal?

Bouley | 163 Duane Street, New York, NY 10013 | http://www.davidbouley.com

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