My boyfriend took me to Cafe Ruhlmann for Valentine's Day. He knows nothing about restaurants but saw it on my bookmarked list of restaurants to try.
The service was amazing and the restaurant was gorgeous and huge. Dinner was excellent but not mind-blowing. Everything was well executed and the quality was amazing but there was nothing about it that blew me away. We shared the steamed mussels in white wine and cream for an appetizer. It came with amazing fries and everything was topped by a course sea salt and parsley. It tasted great but was very predictable and a bit oily. For dinner, he got the beef Wellington (he loved the beef but found out that he didn't like pate and found that it "infected" the bread-y coating so it was a waste). I've never seen beef wellington up close before but was surprised that the coating looked so much like a hard roll.
I was going to get the bouillabase (or however you spell it). The waiter told me that it was VERY fennel-y and got very mixed reviews and suggested an alternative. I went with his suggestion- pan-seared cod with mussels, clams, and scallop in a white wine and cream sauce. The seafood was all cooked perfect and the sauce, while good, was a bit bland. Plus, it started to separate out so you could see the oil blobbing around some of the solids in the sauce. That bugged me. Another thing that bothered me- and I admit that this is just me being fussy- was the quantity. It was one of the smallest pieces of fish I've ever been served. I know that it came with other seafood but I would have liked a bit more. We got a side of broccolini which was perfectly steamed and covered in pine nuts. It was very good but I kept wanting some other flavor in it- maybe butter or lemon?
Everything was perfectly cooked but there was nothing that made it stand out from any other good French restaurant. I guess I thought that a chef with Delouvrier's background would bring something with more flare and that disappointed me.
So, the ambience and service make it wonderful but, food-wise, Le Bouchon's just as good- and a lot cheaper.