Over the course of more than one visit to Cafe Boulud, I have noticed less than acceptable service for a restaurant of its nature. Here are some examples:
-- One time I visited around 8 pm on a Sunday night, the restaurant had literally no sommelier on duty. I asked the maitre d' (or similar level position) whether there was no sommelier even if I waited, and he said there was NO sommelier that night. The gentleman offered to help me, but, frankly, my own assessments with respect to wine exceeded his in quality.
-- On the same occasion, I found the service inattentive, and the wait for the receipt of menus too lengthy.
-- Also, I noticed that there were no dish descriptions when items were brought to the table. The dishes were just plomped down. The only exception were the amuses, served on a spoon as usual of course.
-- Recently, I revisited. The menus again took a long time to arrive, and the service was again inattentive. Many of the people who brought the dishes to our table were literally buspeople, instead of chef de rang or other dining room team members. While that is not unusual in NY, there was no attempt to even describe the dishes again.
-- There did not appear to be particular attention paid to not overcharging clients. I bought a $8.50 full bottle of Pellegrino at the bar, after the bar person assured me the bottle would be transferred to my table. First, when I got to my table, I noticed that the dining room team member had not transferred it and in fact was attempting to pitch me a new bottle. I had to alert her to the situation, suggesting lack of coordination between the bar and the room. Second, at the end of the meal I noticed that the Pellegrino had been charged to me a second time. I had to bring that to the attention of the dining room team.
-- Finally, I did not appreciate the continual waits I have to endure even after I arrive at the time of my reservation. Cafe Boulud and Babbo are particularly poor in this respect. :)