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Friday, March 8, 2013

Boulud Sud

Daniel Boulud may be a French chef, but the focus of his Boulud Sud is Mediterranean.  I would say it's more "inspired" rather than smack you in the face with a bunch of chickpeas kind of Mediterranean and this subtlety only makes it seem more high end.

We started by getting a whole slew of things to share: the octopus à la plancha, lamb terrine, Mediterranean mezze, ricotta with tapenade, crispy artichokes with aioli, and jamon iberico.  I'm exhausted just writing that out.  Though we were only six people and we had entrees on the way, we finished off all of the apps without much effort, a testament to how good they were.  The octopus, ricotta, and artichokes went first as they were the clear table favorites.  With a sauce or dip on every plate, I was in absolute heaven, swishing my bread across every dish to soak up as much flavor as possible.

Plenty of the dishes include cous cous, chickpeas, yogurt, and I could get several of those flavors by ordering the chicken tagine for my entree.  The tagine, a ceramic pot with a cone-shaped lid, is pretty much the cooking vessel of Morocco where Boulud pulls many flavors.  Somehow, the chicken skin managed to stay crispy while sitting in the sauce for an extended period of time.  It may have been one of the simpler dishes on the menu, but it was so well executed that I was very happy with my choice.

We ordered two different chocolaty desserts and they were good and fine, but the stunner was the grapefruit givré.  Givré means "frosted" in French and in the case of this dessert, references the mass atop the puff of white atop the hollowed out grapefruit that looked like snow and tasted like sugar feathers.  I couldn't tell you what was inside the grapefruit.  There was something gummied, some fluff, some sugar.  Other than the grapefruit peel used only as the dessert's vessel, I had no idea what I was eating but I liked it.

Boulud Sud may have a famous chef, but it is far from trendy.  They draw a large pre-theater crowd in the early evening but as it grows later, it becomes a who's who of Upper West Side society.  I saw media magnates, Ben Stiller, and Fran Drescher dining (separately) while I was there.  I am neither a West Sider nor a member of society, but I'm always game to pretend.

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