Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bar Boulud

I’m in love. There, I said it. Nothing is closer to my heart than homemade charcuterie and now I don’t have to cross the Atlantic to enjoy it. Not only has Bar Boulud brought quality charcuterie to deprived New Yorkers, it has opened up in the restaurant wasteland across from Lincoln Center where a fine meal used to be much harder to find than a ticket to opening night at the Met.

Daniel Boulud has teamed up with the Parisian charcutier Gilles Vérot, and what a dream team they make. Don’t read the critics. The food is superb but the squawking about the room is silly. It is long and narrow, but if you want to eat at a counter you can; if you want sit at a booth you can; and if you want to stand at a bar table you can do that. But you have to get there EARLY unless you have a reservation. It was packed at 6:00 on a recent Wednesday.

Lets get to the terrines. They are displayed in a gorgeous counter next to the wines, and I kept thinking terrines and terroir, terrines and terroir because the best charcuterie comes from specific villages just as wines do. My friend Lisa and I ordered the Dégustation de Charcuterie, a grand tasting accompanied by a selection of seasoned vegetables. I loved all the terrines but my favorites were the Pâté Grand-Merè, a fine country pâté with chicken liver, pork and cognac; Pâtè Grand-Père a coarse country pâtè with foie gras, truffle juice, and port; Lapin de La Garrigue a Provençal pulled rabbit terrine with carrots, zucchini; and my absolute favorite, the famous Fromage de Tête Gilles Verot, his famous head cheese. We also got a bit of his Jambon de Paris and it was outstanding.

The seasoned vegetables were good but the cournichons and exquisite pickled baby onions were even finer. The toasts that came with the charcuterie were great. Ditto the mustards.
I then ordered a salad, a Frisée Lyonnaise-- chicory, chicken liver, poached egg, lardons, and sourdough croutons. That really put me over the top; it was perfectly dressed and each component had a distinctive flavor which is what I look for in a salad.

We ordered a bottle of the Nigel Grüner Veltliner, a good value at $58, and followed it with a glass of the 2005 Cuvee Le Bec by Beckman, a delicious syrah from Santa Barbara county. Daniel Johnnes is the consulting wine director and he’s done a fab job of putting the list together.

Here is my wish: Let’s have a shop that sells this charcuterie. I’d still go to Bar Boulud because I’ve not sampled anything close to the whole menu. But let’s have a shop so we can bring home a terrine to tide us over between pilgrimages to this sacred shrine of charcuterie.

Bar Boulud
1900 Broadway
New York, NY 10023


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