Saturday, April 16, 2011
Heralded West Side Eatery Falls Short
So it's no surprise that his casual dining spot, Bar Boulud on Manhattan's West Side near Lincoln Center attracts huge crowds of devotees.
Getting a reservation at this joint takes patience and persistence.
But we planned ahead and snagged a pre-theater reservation for our recent trip to the city and our visit to Lincoln Center for Stephen Sondheim's legendary musical, Company.
Bar Boloud is a long narrow space that sits next to a favorite eatery of ours, Fiorello's.
A curved wall arches into a ceiling that creates a tunnel-like environment. Booths line one side of the narrow space while a long bar takes up the other side. One wall is composed almost entirely of pebbles encased in a stern wire grid and the lighting is strategically designed to highlight the structure and surfaces. The kitchen appears to be in the basement as all food is brought up a rear flight of stairs.
We allowed ourselves plenty of time for dinner before the show and our reservation was promptly honored as we were hastily ushered to a booth about midway through the tunnel.
It was busy, very busy -- a spring Saturday evening in the city with numerous concerts and events scheduled at Lincoln Center.
No one at the restaurant (not the hostess nor the manager nor the waiter nor any of the servers) ever introduced himself or herself to us.
The waiter neither bothered to say "hello" nor to identify himself. He got right down to business and wanted to know what we were ordering.
Well, we wanted drinks first. And, we wanted to take our time.
The martinis can be described in two words: skimpy and ordinary.
The potato and spring garlic soup was thin and unremarkable.
The steak portion of the steak frittes was dry and the fries were uninspired. In fact, at our table for four not one person rated his or her entree (priced from $26 to $33) to be extraordinary in any way. These included both meat and fish dishes (beet salad, trout, white sausage).
If you look over the menu, everything sounds absolutely wonderful.
So, maybe we simply didn't make the right choices. But our waiter offered us absolutely no guidance and even disappeared for quite a stretch.
I will say that the chocolate dessert concoction (which we all shared) was rich and memorable.
Your tab here will add up quickly. In addition to the entree, soup or salad will run you anywhere from $11 to $17 and dessert will set you back $9 to $12. And I haven't included the adult beverages -- always more expensive in an environment such as this. Yes, there is a $42 three-course, pre-theater menu, but none of the three entrees there appealed to us.
OK, forget the dishes for a moment. In the end, it was the lack of hospitality that disappointed us the most.
Hey, we were in New York. We didn't necessarily expect everyone to be warm and fuzzy. But we know of some very busy diners that are friendlier than this place.