I was sorry to read of Jim's disappointment with his recent lunch at Cafe Boulud while there to experience the $20 special.
Jim mentioned, "The only unsurcharged entrees were chicken and ravioli. Nobody gets pasta at a French place...." I hope you didn't miss Andrew Carmellini's ravioli, which I dream about (at any price!)! Andrew (who honed his pasta-making skills in Italy at San Domenico) makes some of the best pasta in NYC -- which might be a little counter-intuitive to order at a restaurant bearing the name of a Frenchman, but then again, the restaurant's well-known "Le Voyage" menu also features the dishes of a different region of the world every month, from Vietnam to the American South.
And I was surprised to read that you "couldn't find a decent wine for under $50." The restaurant's Web site (which can be accessed via www.danielnyc.com) confirmed my recollection that there are lots to be had in that price range -- the site indicates that "over 50% are priced between $30 and $80," and start at a mere $22/bottle. I usually get wines by the glass there (they offer 20+) so that every glass complements whatever I'm eating; and the Web site confirms that wines start at $7/glass.
In any case, sorry to learn of your experience, but thanks nonetheless for the heads-up of this amazing $20 lunch special at Cafe Boulud -- I'm calling to make my reservation today!