The first time I ate at Bouley was in 1996. My mother in-law took my husband (fiancée at that time) and me for dinner to celebrate our graduating Graduate School from Columbia.
The experience for me was beyond divine. Even though it was almost 12 years ago, I still remember being delighted by every course we were served! Little did I know at that time that Bouley would close down that very year. I’ve never forgotten that meal. I really think it was one of the best meals I have ever had….in my entire life!
So, after 12 long years of Bouley having closed, reopened, moved locations and so on, I finally went back to try it one more time. This time I went for lunch. They have a great pre-fix deal for lunch for $48.
Here is some of what I ate.
PORCINI FLAN DUNGENESS CRAB
I started with the Porcini Flan, Dungeness Crab, Black Truffle Dashi. This dish was outstanding. The crab just melted in my mouth and the combination of the mushrooms and dashi was to die for. This dish had so many layers of subtle flavors to it – I tasted something different in every bite. Everything about this dish was superb.
I had the Roasted Rouget for my next course. This dish really did nothing for me. The fish was very fresh and roasted to perfection but I found the bed of sauces it was on to be unimpressive. It really did nothing for the dish. I guess I expected more.
This was the Pennsylvania All Natural Chicken Baked in Buttermilk. The chicken was very tender but it was a little underdone and the vegetables and sauce it came with did nothing for the dish. It didn’t have the depth I expected from it.
The next course was a Fresh Washington State Black Cod with Organic Buckwheat, Sunchoke Cloud and Black Onion Powder. I thought this dish was horrible! I did not like it at all. It sounded like an interesting dish and came highly recommended, but once I tried it I just could not get through it. It was one of those semi-cooked, quivery , jellyish kind of dishes that I personally just do not like. I have to say that when the staff saw that I didn’t like my dish they immediately offered to bring me something else. They were really very gracious.
This Lime Sorbet with Finely sliced Pineapple was a palate cleanser that was brought to us right before dessert. This dish really jolts your taste buds and wakes you up. I thought it was very good but I couldn’t eat more than a few bites of it as it was very strong. It served it purpose really well!
HOT VALRHONA CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE
The Hot Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé Vermont Maple Ice Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sorbet was beyond divine. This was the best chocolate soufflé cake that I have ever had. The ice creams that accompanied it were unbelievable too. So fresh, so beautifully flavored – it was a perfect way to end our meal.
I have to say that overall I was disappointed with this meal. The two outstanding things I ate were the Crab-Porcini mushroom flan and the dessert. The rest of the meal was just okay. I would go back again though. Bouley is such a charming place, with impeccable service and grace. I really enjoyed the experience and parts of the meal were outstanding. It’s hard to judge a place like Bouley based on just one meal and one menu. I still believe that Chef David Bouley can recreate the magic that I experienced 12 years ago and I am willing to go back and try.
MY RATINGS FOR THIS MEAL
Overall experience: ☆☆☆1/2
I recommend: Porcini Flan, Dungeness Crab,Hot Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé
(All ratings are out of a possible 5 stars. Each establishment is individually rated based on my experience of that particular meal. Ratings are also based on my expectations of quality of food, value for money, service, ambiance and overall experience)