Went to Bouley last night for the first time and had their Autumn Tasting Menu. My first CH report follows...
Even as we walked in, the autumn theme struck us. The entraceway was filled with apples -- there were 3 baskets full of the fruit lining the entrance as well as a large floor-to-ceiling display along one wall that was filled with apples as well. The smell of apples washed over us as we walked in, giving the place a homey, almost casual feel. This, of course, changed when we sat down in the beautiful lamp- and candle-lit room, with it's romantic red walls and luxurious seating. The room was warm and comfortable and immediately inviting -- it made you feel both regal and pampered without being stuffy or formal.
We ordered the 5 course tasting menu, and for everything but the main course (where we both ordered the lamb), my DC and I ordered different things. Of note, the menu was somewhat different that what is listed on the website (and was priced slightly higher as well). Here goes:
Chef's Canape -- a lovely tomato sorbet served with tomato chunks, tomato-flavored broth, and a tomato gelatin. Several interesting and very complementary textures with intense tomato flavor that was both fresh and refreshing -- and an excellent way to start the meal
Phylo crusted shrimp, Cape Cod baby squid, and scuba dived sea scallop in an ocean herbal broth -- I think this is one of Bouley's signature dishes, and I can understand why. Simply a wonderful combination of seafood. The scallop was the standout -- sweet, tender, extremely fresh, perfectly complemented by the broth
Sashimi Quality Tuna with Shaved Fennel Dressed in Herb Oils and a Spicy Marinade -- a bit standard and boring, but very fresh and delicious nonetheless. The dressed fennel was the best part.
Potato Crusted Rouget -- I can't quite remember how this was plated, but it was simple and somewhat plain, though again very fresh and quite tasty
Wild King Salmon with mung beans and morels -- one of the standout dishes of the night. The fish melted in your mouth, the skin was perfectly crispy, the mushrooms were tender and very flavorful, and the beans and foam added a perfect amount of character to the dish. Delicious!
Colorado Rack of Lamb with fresh ricotta gnocci -- tender lamb served medium rare with some green beans and deliciously soft, light gnocci. The lamb was wonderful, but the ricotta gnocci was the standout in this dish. Of note, they accidentally brought me the lobster by mistake, which I immediately pointed out (though it looked so good I almost asked them to leave it instead). Within one minute, the correct dish was in front of me (making me think they just mixed up tables or something). I'm not sure if this was because of the mixup, but two minutes later, they brought out some fresh whipped potatoes for us to share -- sweet, buttery, and piping hot, they were absolutely delicious. The delivery of the potatos was so subtle and seamless, that if it was to make up for the mistake, it was very classy indeed.
Concord Grape soup - technically to cleanse the palate, but was good enough to have been the dessert course
Hot Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé, Vermont Maple Ice Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Chocolate Sorbet- very choclately, decadent, and delicious, though almost a bit too rich and also somewhat standard
Bluberry Meringue -- this, on the other hand, was not standard, and possibly the single best thing we ate (and this is coming from someone who doesn't like desserts!). I can't remember the details of the dish, but it was unbelievably soft and light, filled with fresh blueberries and accompanied by a delicious ice cream.
The service was incredibly attentive, friendly, and not the slightist overbearing. We also received periodic visits from the bread cart, serving such delicious varieties as apple, pistacchio, black olive, garlic, raisin, and walnut/saffron (we tried many)
All in all, it was a wonderful dining experience. My only complaint, if any, would be that it was not the most *interesting* of meals, with several dishes that were somewhat traditional or even tired, but the food was executed exceptionally well and we enjoyed every minute of it.
My brief trip from Boston also included a visit to Yasuda the night before for the Omakase, which was incredible, but I'll save that for another report...