Famed chef Daniel Boulud controls the New York culinary scene. Every restaurant he’s opened receives famed reviews and has continually transformed a variety of cuisines. While these restaurants aren’t on the same pricing level as the World-Class Daniel, they are still on the relatively expensive side.
Cue Restaurant Week. Lunch deals tend to be the best bang for your buck if you are able to sneak away from work for a few hours. My Mom and I met at 11:45am on a hot Tuesday, walking to Lincoln Center towards Boulud Sud. While there is an outdoor area for the restaurant, adjacent to Bar Boulud, the real entrance to the restaurant is hidden around the corner. The inviting and bright entrance to Boulud Sud stands out against the dull street.
We entered inside to a warm and open space. Large windows line the left side of the wall, allowing for natural light to brighten the room. The high, multi-arched ceilings makes the room feel open and comfortable. Beautiful, bright photographs of Mediterranean scenery line the walls, enhancing the yellow and green color scheme and warm vibe.
We were lead to our seats, right next to the windows. The friendly, smiling waitress came over explaining restaurant week and welcoming us to Boulud Sud. A few moments later, a small basket of bread and olive oil with garlic and pepper was placed in front of us. It started to excite our palates with the complex breads; one with a cheese crust and the other with olives.
My Mom and I have a known restaurant week rule where we must order something different for each course of the meal. She immediately decided to go for the Sardines and Chicken Tagine, while I ordered the Stone-Baked Flatbread and Marrakesh Spiced Flank Steak. Of the three dessert options, we immediately nixed the Ice Cream selection in favor of a Chocolate Sabayon and Lemon-Blueberry Gateau.
The first course arrived, both beautifully presented with generous portions.
The incorporation of yogurt into the flatbread dough allows for it to have a subtle sweetness and unusually light, airy texture. A light puree of zucchini and garlic coats the top half of the bread, acting as a vegetable pesto. Delicate ribbons of yellow and green zucchini lie on the top, adding an element of crunch to the flatbread. In addition, juicy confit tomatoes give off a burst of sweetness. Shaved pieces of pecarino romano adds a tangy, saltiness completing the appetizer.
I moved on to try my Mom’s Sicilian Sardine Escabeche.
Served over a bed of wilted cabbage and caramelized onions, the delicate piece of fish broke apart with one gentle touch of a fork. The bones are cooked down, making the edible to add a crunch. The addition of sweet golden raisins and pine nuts give a light nuttiness to the dish. Kalamata olives and capers add saltiness to the fish and other elements. For something seemingly so simple, the escabeche has an enormous amount of flavor and freshness.
As we devoured the beautiful piece of fish, my mom joked that the sardines were nothing like the ones my dad eats out of a jar regularly. This is the kind of a dish only a master chef can perfect.
Next, it was time to move onto our main course. My mom’s dish tagine arrived in the traditional cooking vessel with a large, triangular dome protecting the chicken inside. The waiter removed the lid, allowing for the aromatic steam to escape and reveal the crispy, yellow chicken and pile of couscous.
The chicken was remarkably tender and juicy after having been slow cooked in the tomato-lemon-curry sauce. The small couscous soaked up the sauce, creating a wonderful flavor and unique texture. A colorful mixture of vegetables, including onion, cauliflower, and green olives, are cooked down with the couscous and meats giving a salty freshness. A variety of cuts of chicken are used in the dish, maximizing all of the uses of the poultry. The lovely crisp skin on the outside adds a crunchiness, while other pieces remain skinless and on the bone.
After gawking over my Mom’s chicken dish, I finally turned to my own, the Marrakesh Spiced Flank Steak with Pearl Couscous and Red Pepper Sauce.
The crunch from the delicate spice rub on the juicy flank steak is the first thing you taste. Next, the African spice combination takes over the palate combining a subtle heat and sweetness. The inside of the steak is a glowing pink color, the perfect medium rare. Red Pepper sauce lends a freshness and tangy element to the steak. The pearl couscous acts as the starch on the dish, giving a break from the large pile of steak. Shaved, raw carrot gives a crunch and freshness, especially when combined with cilantro leaves. This dish is a great Mediterranean spin on the a typical meat dish.
Finally, it was time for dessert. We were both so full, but couldn’t wait for the something sweet to arrive. We started off by digging into the gorgeous chocolate sabayon with dolce ice cream, brownie crumble and ground espresso beans.
Talk about decadence. This dessert hits every high note and never seems to come down. The chocolate sabayon is creamy from the light mousse, rich from the bottom layer of chocolate, and crunchy from the espresso mixture in the middle. The dolce gelato sits on top of brownie crumble, creating a contrast of texture and temperature. The wonderful coffee ganache mixes with the sunflower feuilletine creates a taste similar to a deconstructed higher end nutella. This is everything you want from a chocolate dessert, since it’s rich but balanced.
Next, we moved onto the ‘ligther’ dessert, if that’s even a thing.
You had me at Limonchello Sorbet. I wish that I could keep a big container of this sorbet in my freezer to bring onto my balcony with a big spoon on a hot summer’s day. It’s one of the most refreshing, tangy varieties of an icy treat. The staked cake is equally refreshing and rich, with the tangy goat cheese mousse and the tart blueberry compote. The moist cake sits at the bottom, soaking up all of the flavors from the top layers. The candy crisp on the side. Not only is this dish beautiful, but it’s absolutely delicious and a wonderful alternative for those who don’t enjoy chocolate (and yes, those people exist).
This meal was everything I could have wanted and more. Every dish was simple, but very complex and full of unusual and surprising flavors. The chicken tagine was one of the best dishes I have enjoyed in a very long time, and this is coming from someone who generally avoids chicken. The entire vibe of the restaurant is warm and friendly, allowing for you to escape the hustle of Manhattan for a few hours. Especially during restaurant week, the price was so right. This is easily one of the best restaurant week deals in the city (they offer dinner, as well). You’d be doing yourself a disservice to miss this deal. I can easily see myself coming back to Boulud Sud throughout the year of a sizzling bowl of chicken, no matter the price.
Boulud Sud – 20 West 64th Street – New York, NY
Location: Upper West Side, NY
Perfect For: Date Night, Outdoor Seating, Impressing Foodies
Reservations: Recommended via OpenTable
Favorite Dishes: Chicken Tagine, Sardine Escabeche, Marrakesh Spiced Flank Steak, Chocolate Sabayon