I had a fairly-good-minus meal at Bouley during lunch. Part of that assessment reflects average dining room assistance, but the predominant part of that assessment reflects a sense that the restaurant is just "making do" with respect to cuisine that somehow lacks what the old Bouley on Duane Street harbored :( Still, relative to other NY restaurants, Bouley would be among the restaurants with better cuisine.
There are two lunch tasting menus -- a $45 prix fixe I ordered, which offered three savory courses and a dessert, and the shorter $35 alternative. The a la carte dish prices are not inexpensive for the entrees, which were in the $30-40 range for lunch. The total with tax and tips for our party of two was slightly under $200.
-- Amuses was a small glass cup containing different layers of refreshing tastes against the darkness of mackerel. The layers were, from the bottom: (1) basil/avocado mousse, (2) mackerel/cucumber/apple, (3) yuzu gelee, (4) wasabi/cucumber sorbet, and (5) apple foam. This was accompanied by a very small deep-fried sweet spring roll containing sweet kernels of baby corn. This item was one of the stronger amuses I have sampled at Bouley, for the different layers worked well together despite their apparent complexity when described.
Our dining party began with glasses of champagne -- Louis Roederer Brut ($14). There was a half-bottle of Laurent-Perrier Brut at $45 that was not unreasonably priced, but I preferred the stronger taste of the Louis Roederer. I also considered a possible 1/2 bottle of a recent Pascal Jolivet Pouilly Fume at only $29.
-- Sashimi of Blue Fin Tuna with Shaved Fennel, Dressed in Herb Oils and Spicy Marinade
This dish was disappointing, although I still subject Bouley's dishes to some expectations on my own part and this conclusion should perhaps be taken in that context. The tuna was in medium-sized cubes, and assembled into a circular shape in the middle of the plate. It was quite emolient. A soy-based saucing was utilized, with some juliennes of cucumber and celeri below the tuna. Also, in addition to sprigs of herbs surrounding the tuna, there were a number of mini cubes of two types of gelee -- (1) a red colored gelee that likely included some type of citrus, and (2) a clear gelee that was more neutral-tasting in comparison. They didn't really have a role.
-- Wild WA State King Salmon with Tangerine, Clementines, Mandarines and Blood Orange in a Parsley Root Sauce
This was perhaps the best dish of the meal. The salmon was quite fatty in intrinsic texture, and was presented in a round shape. The citrus was not a bad pairing for the salmon. However, one did not need three different and different-colored significant sauces in this dish. First, there was a green sauce that did not match the dish. Second, a yellow-colored, buttery sauce that did go with the salmon well. Third, a burgundy-colored, citrus (perhaps red grapefruit and/or blood orange) saucing that was alright with the salmon. I would have been happy with the yellow saucing on its own. Of course, Bouley has a tendency to include some version of the green sauce in a number of dishes, so its appearance was not completely unexpected.
-- Organic Loin of New Zealand Venison with Black Trumpets, Seasoned Cortland Apples cooked in red wine, Salsify and baby brussel sprouts
Two medallions arrived, rare as I ordered. The outside of the medallions had something applied to them that I wasn't sure about (possibly diced up, marinated black trumpets or some vegetable?). The apple/red wine combination tasted too much like apple sauce, and was quite mushy in texture. The juliennes of black trumpets were good, having a nice oiliness to them. The salsify puree was so-so, and lacked the butteriness and richness of Bouley's very nice potatoes puree. The baby brussel sprouts were a nice component to the dish, which was fairly good.
I ordered a glass of Australian Shiraz to accompany the dish (2002 Marquis Philips, sp, Shiraz, SE Australia, at $15). The wine was a bit stark for my tastes, but most diners might have found it appropriate for the venison.
-- Chilled Blood Orange Soup with yoghurt Sorbet and Compari Sugar (pre-dessert)
I didn't meaningfully sample this dish. The yoghurt sorbet was average, although the pink sprinkles of compari sugar topping the sorbet looked kind of cute.
-- Raspberry Cloud with Yoghurt Caramel Crisp, Rose Petal Ice Cream, Amaretto Toffee Sauce and Apricot Anglaise
I was disappointed by the sourness of the raspberry central component of this dish, which did not have the lightness one might infer from the "cloud" reference in the dish name. The apricot at the bottom of the dish was also a bit sour for my tastes. The rose petal ice cream was alright, although I found the texture of the ice cream a bit too smooth.
I generally like rose/raspberry combinations, including Lorain's rose petal ice cream with berry dish. However, the Bouley raspberry cloud left something to be desire.
Mignardises included a rose macaron, as one might find at Lucas-Carton or at Pierre Herme's store. Unfortunately, this rose macaron at Bouley was not as well-executed as the others mentioned.
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