Sunday, March 27, 2011

London, England - Bar Boulud

Daniel Boulud, the three Michelin star chef, has finally made it over to the other side of the pond, and opened his first restaurant abroad in the brand new Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge. The restaurant is very much a scene right now and is serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea. I had lunch there two days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The front entrance
The interior design is said to be a modern interpretation of a wine cellar and the designer, Adam Tihany, used classic materials such as oak wood floors, leather banquettes, and a zinc-topped bar with a cork panel facade. The restaurant is divided into two dining rooms: a front room, which benefits from nice natural light from the front windows, as well as a back room with a wide open working kitchen whose long glass counter displays charcuterie and cheese. Tables are fairly close together and the menu is every bit french bistro fare. The waitstaff were very accommodating and attentive.
An open kitchen in the back dining room
There is a daily prix fixe menu with two and three course offerings, as well as a daily specials menu too. There is also quite an extensive list of charcuterie (many pates and foie gras), sausages and fish, including oysters, shrimp, mussels and a caviar selection. Salads, soups and house signature dishes round out the offerings, though the favorites here seem to be the three different NY hamburgers with french fries, each with different ingredients such as confit pork belly and BBQ pulled pork.
The daily prix fixe lunch menu
We ordered a very traditional coq au vin with chicken legs on the bone, mushrooms, bacon, onions, a red wine glaze and short spaetzle noodles.  It was a very flavorful dish and the chicken was cooked to tender perfection, nearly falling off the bone. We also ordered a croque monsieur consisting of ham, gruyere and béchamel sauce drowned in melted cheese on top. The croque monsieur was also very well done, though caloric guilt got the better of me and so I just couldn't bring myself to eat the entire thing.
A traditional Coq au Vin

Croque Monsieur

Yankee burger with cheese

For dessert there is a nice cheese selection, ice cream and sorbets, traditional french madelines and some cakes, a few of which were a classic french cake with brandied cherries, a chocolate tart with peanuts and salted caramel and an amaretto soufflé with praline and passion fruit ice cream. 

The lunch crowd consisted of nearly all affluent women of leisure who live in the area, so your Upper East Side ladies who lunch equivalent that you would find at Bar Boulud in NYC. There were also a few groupings of businessmen and I happened to sit next to the former Prime Minister of Pakistan. I hear that the evening cocktail and dinner crowd is trendy and younger. Overall I had a very positive experience at Bar Boulud and would recommend it highly if you are looking for classic French bistro fare done well.
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