• Bouley (New York)

As if the romance of France can capture us all, David Bouley was born in the USA but inspired by French cuisine.  Opened in 1987, Bouley may seem old fashioned and nostalgic, but its food has managed to keep up to the fashion whilst retaining the je ne sais quoi that is quintessentially French.

Walking through the streets of TriBeCa on a cold morning, we were pleased to finally find the little living room reception of David’s famous restaurant.  We were soon seated at a round table at the front and ordered wine before the dining delights began.

I was magnetised to Napa Valley chardonnay on this holiday, so ordered as such.  It was a Carneros, California, 2010 by Crosby Roamann.  Its bouquet was very fruity with a creaminess coming through as it opened to become oak.  The taste was dry with a creamy finish held without being overpowering, flat on acid but with an orange tang and lime.

The waiter joked with my brother and I which perhaps showed a mis-translation of Australian sarcasm.  What will be the vegetarian degustation?  Well, it will be lamb, chicken, beef…  Not funny.  My brother allergic to nuts had the same treatment.  It is not nice when waiters treat you like an idiot with the things you care about most.

The food, on the other hand, was exceptional.  It began with a tomato soup with crème and almond.  It was chilled and the texture was of a watered down puree.  The almond crème sat on the bottom.  The wine became tangier.

This was served with a thin oiled biscuit topped with triple milk cheese and black truffle.  The cheese resembled a thick dollop of cream like a savoury crème Catalan.  It was outstanding with the truffle: elegant, crisp, crunchy.

Our silverware was changed prior to the next course; a green soup described as a chlorophyll blast with garlic foam.  The soup was lightly whipped, warming and flavoursome.  Buckwheat seeds gave an extra edge.

“This is absolutely superb,” commented my mother.

“Exactly want you like, a bowl of green,” replied my father.

Taking specialisation to a new level, was the bread trolley, with a man whose sole purpose was making, cutting and serving bread.  There were many varieties. The dried fruit bread was served warm.  I also enjoyed one like a crunchy mini baguette.  Later I tried the pistachio and hazelnut.  It had a thin crust and was fluffy inside, soft and warm.

Assorted wild forest mushrooms were served with garlic and black truffle.  Whilst other restaurants had given vegetarian food flavour through salt, Bouley seemed to compensate with truffle.  Fine by me.  Slippery pine mushrooms were seasoned with salt, pepper and truffle.  The flavours were lovely with the soft garlic foam against the strong truffle.  The wine became more orange with the earthiness of this dish.  I felt the respect for the produce in this meal.

The next dish brought a new take on a child’s least favourite vegetable – Brussel sprouts.  They were served with gnocchi, potato puree, a compte cloud (also flavoured with truffle) and mushroom foam.  The gnocchi was tiny and soft.  The dish was a rich combination.  The Brussel sprouts held their own against the other flavours.  It was an exceptionally well made dish.

Dessert began with a coconut soup with pineapple, a very creamy amaretto ice-cream and a tangy and sweet passionfruit sorbet.

Chocolate soufflé was served with chocolate mousse and coffee ice-cream.  This smelt delightful and was decadent with the coffee and mousse; rich in flavour, light in texture.  Biscuit crumbs were like a buttery shortbread on the base.  The soufflé itself was heavy, hot and moist inside with a firm crust.

It was a very nice meal, it even made up for all the bad ones I had had.  The décor is pompous and formal old world.  The food matches this with a rich decadence that was even a challenge for me, forcing a slowly placed lunch reminiscent of old times.

163 Duane St
New York 10013
(212) 964-2525

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