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Bouley: Wow, what a mediocrity!

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Bouley: Wow, what a mediocrity!

newsjoke | Mar 23, 2003 12:00 AM

So, I went to Bouley tonight hoping to re-experience the wonderful meal I had there about 13 years or so ago (before he got sidetracked with the overpriced and underdelivering Bouley Bakery and Danube), and all I can say is: man, were my hopes ever dashed!

Of the things I sampled (there were four of us dining), the only truly delicious thing I had was the first course of my tasting menu, which the waiter told us was their signature dish: "Phyllo Crusted Florida Shrimp, Cape Cod Baby Squid, Scuba Dived Sea Scallop and Sweet Maryland Crabmeat in an Ocean Herbal Broth." This really was fabulous, thanks to a green "broth" that I'd guess was basically made up of butter and some nice complimentary flavorings.

Now for the letdowns:

My second course, "The Return from Chiang Mai: Chilled Maine Lobster, Mango, Fresh Artichoke and Serrano Ham Served with a Passion Fruit, Fresh Coconut and Kaffir Lime Dressing," while quite impressive looking, was virtually flavorless.

The "Farm Raised Squab" was among the least appealing squabs I've ever had, paling in comparison to Jean Georges's version.

The Kobe beef was virtually flavorless.

The venison was WAY overcooked, and also rather flavorless.

On the brighter side, the rack of lamb (which one of my tablemates had and I didn't sample), did look quite good, and he (my tablemate) said it WAS good, as was (according to a different tablemate) the delicious-looking appetizer called: "Panache of Three Salads: Roasted Foie Gras with Quince Purée, Fricassee of Porcini, Hen of the Woods and Shiitake Mushrooms, Satay of Scuba Dived Sea Scallops and Florida Shrimp with Fresh Bay Leaf Sauce".

The chocolate souffle dessert, too, was nice. Although the souffle itself was kind-of "mini-sized," it did come with a delicious assortment of small scoops of ice cream/gelato. A lemon dessert of some kind (I don't remember what it was called) was, I suppose, okay if you love lemon, but certainly wouldn't bring someone who was "lemon neutral" into "the lemon fold". Also, prior to the dessert, they served some very nice "palate cleansing" sorbets and coffee-flavored ices. The after-dinner petit fours, though, with the possible exception of a very decent chocolate truffle were-- for an establishment of this supposed caliber-- almost amazingly bland and sub-par.

The service was quite efficient; no complaints there.

Overall, then, the food was a HUGE letdown although, for what it's worth, the placed was priced a bit less than I expected, with the tasting menu at $75 (vs. $118 the last time I was at the far superior Jean Georges, although Jean Georges served several more courses), and the (non tasting menu) appetizers at around $20, with the entrees in the mid-$30s. I would definitely NOT recommend this place.

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