Cafe Boulud

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photo courtesy of the Cafe Boulud website
Last July while in San Diego for work, I had the privlidge to eat at a restaurant called El Bizcocho. The chef, Gavin Kaysen, had just been named to the list of 2007’s Best New Chefs by Food and Wine magazine. I’ve been talking about the meal ever since.

So I was very happy to read that Chef Kaysen moved to New York to take over the helm at Daniel Boulud’s Upper East Side restaurant, Cafe Boulud.

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Chef Kaysen was a busy guy between my meal at El Bizcocho and last weekend’s visit to Cafe Boulud. He was the USA’s representative in the Bocuse D’Or, the international olympics of cooking. He appeared on the Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef.” And he was named “Rising Star Chef of 2008” by the James Beard Foundation.

And also? He’s only 29.

Our dinner at Cafe Boulud lived up to and surpassed every expectation.

First we chose from a selection of fresh baked breads, which included olive, pumpkin seed, raisin and mini baguette. They were all fantastic.

As I tried hard to not fill up on bread, the waiter brought out an amouse bouche of Salmon Tartre.

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The salmon was mixed with dill, topped with a teeny crouton and served on a dollop of dijon mustard sauce.
We split appetizers and I’m still not entirely sure which I liked better. The first was House Made Spaghetti Nero served with sweet rock shrimp, baby fennel and cherry tomatoes.

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Each strand of spaghetti was exactly half white, half black. I honestly have no idea how they did this, but the look was stunning. It was like eating a tuxedo.

The other appetiser was from the market specials menu. The dish was an Heirloom Tomato Terrine, an incredibly unique spin on the caprse salad.

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The tomatoes were layered in a terrine with a heart of buffalo mozzarella. The dish was served with feta cheese, wild arugula, a basil sauce, a drizzle of fifty-year old Balsamic Vinegar and fromage blanc sorbet. Yes you read that right. Cheese sorbet. Incredible.

The main courses had a tough act to follow. They followed it with no difficulty whatsoever.

First came Seared Black Bass “A La Normandie.”

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The bass was served with baby leeks, Bouchot mussels, potatoes, tomato concasse, and fine herb salad. It was cooked perfectly and I finished what was left of my bread by sopping up the savory broth.

The other selection was a market special, Vermont Baby Lamb Five Ways.

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The plate was a whimsical exploration of lamb in five different preperations. There was a tiny lamb pot pie, a lamb sausage served on paella rice in a silver-dollar-sized cast iron pan, lamb chops served over a lamb that kind of had the texture of pulled-pork and finally lamb served on stewed peppers, fava beans and spinach with a natural jus.

After all of that food, dessert was a requirement. The dish was called “Composition of Summer Corn.”

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It featured a quenelle of corn ice cream served atop a corn mousse layered with chocolate mousse. In the center was a crispy corn bread sandwich with a corn creme in the center. The dish was topped with carmel corn. My belt was loosened and the plate was licked clean.

And I even got to add to my signed plate collection!

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