When Daniel Boulud moved into the neighborhood, and over the past couple of years has transformed that key stretch of Broadway, right across from Lincoln Center's main plaza, into something like Boulud Boulevard, with three different restaurants wrapping around 64th Street: the charcuterie-centric Bar Boulud, the casual cafe Epicerie Boulud, and his newish Mediterranee delight, Boulud Sud. Time was, and not so long ago, it was counter-intuitively difficult to get a decent meal right around Lincoln Center. Yes, you could spend a fortune for some first-rate Chinese at Shun Lee, or grab an ok burger at O'Neal's (Balloon), but for the most part it was mediocre-to-worse food at prices that pained.
We've already had great meals at Bar Boulud (the Degustation de Charcuterie sampler is one of our favorite snacks on the Upper West Side), but last week we finally made it to Boulud Sud, which opened early this summer to critical acclaim and much neighborhood swooning over Boulud's and Executive Chef Aaron Chambers' ability coax such wonderfully bright and clean Mediterranean-inspired flavors from everything that came out of the kitchen. We sat at the bar–the place was booked solid–and sampled a few dishes from around the Boulud Sud menu, and hit total winners each time.
For example, the Boulud Sud Charred Squid: buttery soft, redolent with the sea, stuffed with spicy chorizo, accompanied by an intense tapenade. Perfect. The Boulud Sud duel Tabouleh bowls were also excellent, both the "Classic Bulger" concoction as well as the "Zaatar Cauliflower" variety. Such simple-looking dishes; such wonderful explosions of flavor. And our Rabbit Porchetta might have been the best of all, a thick circle, brilliantly balanced between the bunny meat, the asparagus, the fat, the basil, that was dense enough to be almost a meal.
The room at Boulud Sud is lovely, punctuated by several Vic Muniz pieces, but walk-ins (or, at least, walk-ins like us) can be treated with something less than a warm welcome. In fact, there was a certain chilliness to the proceedings, and Boulud Sud is not an inexpensive restaurant, and the haughtiness made us less excited about returning. Where we are excited about returning–and, in fact, have stopped by many times since it opened last spring–is Chef Daniel Boulud's quick-bite paradise, the bright and lively Epicerie Boulud. With its wide-open frontage, outdoor cafe tables, indoor stand-up counters, beverages of all description, and a huge range of snacks and treats both sweet and savory, Epicerie Boulud is the type of place that every neighborhood needs.
There are many ways to enjoy Epicerie Boulud. There's a long counter filled with Chef Daniel Boulud's chacuterie, to eat right there or bring home to share, as well as a number of carefully selected cheeses via the great Saxelby Cheesemongers. There's also a full-blown patisserie here at Epicerie Boulud, with all the expected goodies–croissants and fancy cakes and eclairs and tarts and such–as well some terrific macaroons (the best is the chocolate) and, somewhat more rare, spectacularly rich and gooey squares of pate de fruit.
Epicerie Boulud also features a lovely little marble-topped bar where you can sip a beer or some wine and munch on several hot lunch-y items such as a Spicy Merguez Sandwich, a Banh Mi, and the excellent DBGB Dog with sauteed onion mustard and 299 relish. Then in the evening, the Epicerie Boulud folks break out a Jamon Iberico and crates of oysters arrive for your casual slurping pleasure. Epicerie Boulud also sells (very freshly) pre-made sandwiches and salads and soups, ouefs for breakfast, AND there's a gelato stand as well, which we can assure you sells scoops as creamy and full-flavored as you'd except from a Daniel Boulud production. Bon appetite indeed. Thanks, Chef.
Boulud Sud and Epicerie Boulud details
Boulud Sud is located on 64th Street, just east of Broadway, and is open for lunch on Monday through Saturday from 12:00 noon to 2:30 p.m., and on Sunday until 3:00; and for dinner on Monday to Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and on Sunday until 10:00 p.m.
Epicerie Boulud is located on the corner of 64th Street and Broadway and is open on Mondays from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., on Tuesday through Friday until 11:00 p.m., on Saturday from 8:00 until 11:00 p.m., until 10:00 p.m. on Sunday. For lots more information and a look at both the Boulud Sud menu and the Epicerie Boulud menu, please see the Boulud empire website, here.