About a week ago, I went to one of the best restaurants I have ever been to. If it takes second place, it is only to Locanda la Pieve in Semproniano, Italy, where we delighted in a 4 course meal. But that’s Italy. It’s a whole different category. Before I get too sidetracked with tales of raspberry semifredo (did I mention the stuffed zucchini blossoms?), I need to refocus.
This place was Boulud Sud, Daniel Boulud’s restaurant near Lincoln Center, specializing in innovative Mediterranean cuisine.
To start, they handed us a basket of garlic and cheese bread with a small dish of olive oil, pepper and a slice of garlic. The bread was deliciously tender and soft, melting in your mouth, with a delightfully crispy crust that was made by the flavorful cheese.
For a drink, I ordered a Shirley Temple that had just the perfect amount of cherry syrup and just the right about of soda to make a sweet but refreshing drink.
The first appetizer we ordered were fried artichokes, that came with a Nipatella Aioli. Nipatella is a flavorful herb from Europe and complimented the artichokes perfectly. The artichokes were hot and crispy, wonderfully juicy and tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. Next, my sister and I split the tuna tartare. Taking a bite was like eating silk. It was such good quality fish that it melted on your tongue, the freshness almost overwhelming. It was served atop a green sauce with herbs and a crispy slice of bread with smooth, flavorful olive tapenade.
There was a lentil soup with lamb sausage that had a creamy broth and tender lentils, served with a cheese cracker that was perfect for dipping. We had a delicious dish of succulent roasted mushrooms and potatoes. It was topped off by a poached egg, the golden inside leaking out over the vegetables appealingly.
There were long homemade potato chips sprinkled with za’atar and served with a creamy caviar dip. Those were an example of elevated classic fare that is served at Boulud Sud.
For my main dish, I ordered steak. The steak was perfectly cooked, tender and pink but not raw, with a crisp sear on the outside. The meat was simple– sprinkled with salt and pepper to allow the other flavors on the plate shine through– an excellent choice. The steak rested atop a light balsamic sauce. This was outlined by a thin line of porcini puree, the distinct mushroom flavor worked well with the meaty steak. There was a little roasted mushroom and onion on the edge resting in puree… the mushroom was a tad cold. However, this was made up for by the sweet potato dish in the middle. There were paper-thin layers of sweet potato layered like phillo dough with a sprinkling of cheese, crisped and it tasted heavenly. Next to it was a roulade of raddichio, seperatable with a knife and crunchy and flavorful.
My dad ordered a whole grilled fish with lemon and herbs that was shiny inside. It was served atop rice that was long and light with pistachio.
My sister got a delicious roasted salmon filet, rare and pink. It was served with a beautiful surrounding of baby beets and microgreens. A waiter then poured a sweet blood orange sauce around the fish– it was perhaps the most beautiful dish of the night.
We had a ravioli, the dough light and thin, stuffed with creamed white truffle. It sounds too rich, but it was surprisingly light and flavorful, perfectly complemented by a light sage sauce.
Dessert, however, is where the restaurant is most famous and where I experienced possibly the best dessert I ever had.
We first had a caramel lava cake, with melting caramel inside the moist cake, topped with chopped walnuts, thin apple carpaccio and a light whipped cream, surrounded by salted caramel.
Now, though, I will move on to the best thing of the night, a mind blowing dessert that rocked my world. It is not rich, nor chocolatey, nor fattening. Its base is grapefruit, but you will see soon how very special it is.
A bowl is brought to you. The bowl is filled with ice chips and preserved rose petals, creating a flowery aroma. In the bowl is a hollowed out frozen grapefruit, with no fruit inside remaining. Inside this grapefruit “bowl” is an incredibly refreshing and smooth grapefruit sorbet. There is also pieces of fresh grapefruit, and a crunch made of halvah, the Israeli sesame candy. Then, there are light cubes of rose flavored Turkish Delight, flowery and light gelatin candies that taste fairy like and heavenly.
Then, there is a crunchy brulee shell, closing off the delicacies. Atop this sugar top is a fluffy, cotton-candy like spun halvah concoction. The sorbet is smooth and refreshing, and the grapefruit is fresh and chilled.
The rose candies are surprisingly delicious, melting in your mouth with sweet floral taste. The surprising combination of sesame and grapefruit works perfectly, the nuttiness rounding out the sour taste of grapefruit.
It is an unexpected, incredible dessert that you could eat a million times over.
I highly recommend Boulud Sud for its perfect food, impeccable service and beautiful modern atmosphere.
Address: 20 W 64th St.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Service: Excellent and formal
Atmosphere: gorgeous, modern dining room with moderate noise and an open kitchen.
Recommended: Tuna tartare, fried artichokes, mushrooms and onions with poached egg, lentil soup, grilled or salt baked whole fish, steak, salmon with blood orange, white truffle ravioli, caramel molton lava cake, grapefruit givre.