New York, NY 10023
Daniel Boulud's new dining spot opened the first full week in January. Located directly across the street from Lincoln Center, the location alone means it is and will be a popular place, particularly considering the lack of fine dining competition in the neighborhood.
This cafe/bistro is in fact not a wine bar as originally promoted. Currently the front desk will not permit guests to congregate around the so called wine bar - a strange edict if there ever was one. With the place overflowing with people wanting to taste Daniel's Lyon-style menu, the entrance area including the front seating area has become as crowded as a subway platform at 5:30 pm. And without a glass of wine in hand the waiting crowd became unruly rather rapidly. Clearly the front desk (while quite professional) is currently overwhelmed and quite frazzled. They need to find a quick fix, or it will fix itself as people tire of this inadequate arrangement.
Part of the current problem appears to be overbooking, waiters struggling with getting checks to customers and credit card receipts back to customers, and the slow clearing and re-setting of tables. Undoubtedly an opening week problem that is hopefully to improve.
The menu does not disappoint in providing a rather long list of traditional French cafe/bistro fare with a heavy Lyon regional focus. Prices are rather high for what is generally considered simple food and even with the Euro at 1.50 to the US Dollar, one could probably eat the same meal for less in France.
The food itself is fine - nothing spectacular as one has come to expect at Daniel's dining places. Nothing is really off, but then again nothing seemed to blow us away. The list of pates is interesting and the pates are quite well made. The classic escargots are fine, but nothing out of the ordinary. The "coq a vin" was also acceptable, but we have had better. The "boudin blanc" - a real test of the French Bistro- was moist and tasty, but the singular sausage on a large plate with minimal accompaniments looked lonesome and quite inadequate as a $27 main course.
The wine list is focused on French moderately priced and middle of the road wines. Like the food, nothing unpleasing but nothing spectacular in selection or pricing.
We passed on desert as the waiting customers began overwhelming the seating area in front assigned to "twos", and it became uncomfortable to remain seated while hungry people stood hovering over our table waiting to be seated.
Reviewing any dining place during the first week is always tricky. Even the best places struggle getting out of the starting blocks. However, a place with Boulud in its name that struggles as badly as Bar Boulud did on our first visit is unexpected.
Bar Boulud - Acceptable