Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New Café Boulud (Lunch)

I've written about Café Boulud a total of four times on Food Junkie Chronicles. No other restaurant, besides Splendido, holds that kind of record (FYI I have five posts on Splendido). Now that Splendido is *sadly* shuttered, Café Boulud (Twitter: @CafeBouludTO, Facebook: Café Boulud Toronto & d|bar) will soon take over as "the most blogged restaurant" on Food Junkie Chronicles because I got this lunch post up now plus a dinner post scheduled soon (that post will be fairly long since it'll combine my three dinners there).

In any case, all this clearly indicates one thing, that I'm a big supporter of Café Boulud. I was already a fan of the "old" Café Boulud - I had countless meals there with my friends and family - and not surprisingly, I'm now an even bigger fan of the "new" Café Boulud ever since its "transformation" last September.

Located at the Four Seasons Hotel, the new Café Boulud features a stylish redesign by London-based designer Martin Brudnizki. The ribbed wraparound banquets upholstered in jaguar green and the 1950s-shaped chairs in ruched leather mixes classic with contemporary. The dining room is elegant and sophisticated, yet warm and inviting.

If this doesn't scream "French brasserie" I don't know what does. I love the retro-modern look of this dining bar counter which is constructed in wood panels painted in a high gloss lacquer and topped with marble. It features a bronze and glass gantry, and eight leather bar stools.

Café Boulud's new menu highlights both bistro classics and contemporary dishes inspired by Chef Daniel Boulud's family growing up in Lyon. Deeply rooted in French tradition, the menu was created in collaboration by Chef Boulud and Chef de Cuisine Sylvain Assié.

My friend and I went for lunch two Saturdays ago to celebrate his birthday. It was my first time ever having lunch at Café Boulud and this visit marks my fourth time at the new Café Boulud.

When you're at the restaurant, whether it's for lunch or dinner, make sure you start off with a cocktail! My favourite cocktail there is the Led Zeppelin with tequila, amaro nonino, aperol and lime. It's so delicious! Cocktails I also enjoy includes Watermelon Smash, Elderflower Fizz and Sazerac.

Gin, jack rudy special batch tonic, lemon
St. germain, chambord, lemon, prosecco

4 oysters, 2 shrimps, 2 clams, 4 mussels, tuna tartare

We added half lobster for $18.

What a terrific way to start lunch. Everything was remarkably fresh and delightful. A standout in this seafood plate was the mussels immersed in a nice saffron sauce. The one thing I didn't enjoy much was the tuna tartare. It was under-seasoned and bland.

Anchovies with red pepper on toast

I love anchovies so this was my first pick from the menu. The initial bite caught me by surprise since it was pretty salty, but after the second bite then the third bite, all the ingredients came together really well. Maybe my taste bites had to adjust to the saltiness of the preserved anchovies but either way, this simple appetizer was quite delicious.

Prime angus beef, pickled condiments, mustard egg dressing, romaine
Unlike the hand-cut steak tartare offered on the dinner menu, this version at lunch is pre-seasoned rather than seasoned table side. I much prefer the one at dinner because you get to choose your desired level of seasoning: mild, medium or hot. This one was sadly under-seasoned, which is why I chose to have it on the romaine lettuce each time because the mustard and the capers really helped to give the tartare some kick and flavour.

More cocktails...

Vermouth, olive
Tequila, amaro nonino, aperol, lime

Sauce béarnaise, pommes frites, gem lettuce, shallot dressing
The steak, which was finished with flawless grill marks, was cooked perfectly. Absolutely no complaints. The pomme frites were thoroughly seasoned and highly addictive (dip them in the bearnaise sauce!) If your entree doesn't come with fries I highly recommend you order it as a side.

Romesco sauce, red onion, broccoli rabe, tomato, pepper and almonds
This was good but not great. For an entree that's $38 I expected more. I don't know exactly more of what but just more in general. When the plate was placed in front of me I was already disappointed, perhaps due to the small portion of the sea bass or lack of visual appeal compared to the other plates. For example, one of my favourite dishes on the dinner menu is the Quenelle de Brochet. When you see the dish, it makes you go "wow". It also tastes absolutely delicious and it's priced at $29. Again, I'm not saying that this sea bass was not good but it certainly did not leave a lasting impression.

Molten chocolate cake, maple-black cherry ice cream

All the molten! A textbook molten chocolate cake. Terrific execution with wonderful chocolate goodness. Yum!

The madeleines are not on the menu but I always ask for them. I cannot leave Cafe Boulud without these dainty, freshly-baked cakes.You know what's good? Dipping them in the chocolate from the molten chocolate cake! You're welcome.

Stay tuned for my next Café Boulud post where I will combine my three dinners there into one giant write-up!

Related Posts:

Café Boulud - Four Seasons Hotel Toronto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato