Inside the return of the iconic NYC restaurant, Café Boulud

By Tori Latham 14 December, 2023
cafe boulud new york

Café Boulud pays homage to the restaurant that Daniel Boulud’s grandparents opened over a century ago outside Lyon

Twenty-five years after first opening, Café Boulud is undergoing something of a metamorphosis.

The iconic New York City restaurant from Daniel Boulud reopens in a new location on Friday, with a refreshed menu and design to match. Despite overseeing the Michelin two-starred Daniel and a host of other spots around the world, Café Boulud holds a special place in the namesake chef’s heart, as it’s an homage to the restaurant that his grandparents opened more than a century ago outside Lyon, France.

cafe boulud new york
Chefs Romain Paumier, Daniel Boulud, and Katalina Diaz. Photo by Café Boulud

“Creating a new home for Café Boulud has been my focus and priority for the last year,” Boulud said in a statement. “The restaurant will be a vibrant celebration of my French roots and love for New York from our inspired cuisine and warm hospitality to a beautifully designed space and lively atmosphere.”

Earlier this month, during a conversation at the chef’s private restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Residences in New York City, Boulud broke down the menu for Robb Report. Four different sections provide myriad options for diners: La Saison is focused on “very seasonal and market-driven” dishes, like grilled salmon with citrus, cilantro, crudités, and spicy avocado dressing, or roasted Pennsylvania duck with persimmon jam, endive, and monk peppercorn duck jus. La Tradition contains classic French dishes that “people like to revisit and appreciate,” the chef said. This winter, that includes glazed sweetbread with ginger jus, cauliflower, toasted oats, and purslane, as well as black sea bass wrapped in crispy potatoes, leek fondue, and red wine sauce.

Café Boulud new york
Glazed Sweetbread. Photo by Café Boulud

Elsewhere, the Le Potager vegetarian section features a curried rainbow tart with shallot compote and Pecorino Romano, alongside a beet ravioli with sheep ricotta, pine nuts, and preserved lemon. And the Le Voyage dishes will spotlight different cuisines of the world, beginning with Thailand via peekytoe crab soup with pickled ginger flower, coriander, and chili oil, and roasted pork tenderloin with crispy belly, sweet potato, kale, charred onion, and red Thai curry jus.

Desserts, meanwhile, take inspiration from the same four discrete concepts. A molten chocolate cake with salted caramel and mint-lemongrass ice cream is an updated spin on a French classic. A baked mont blanc with chestnut ice cream, ginger sorbet, vermicelli, and Swiss meringue screams wintertime. And Thai flavours come across in Nam Kang Sai, with combava-infused pineapple, Thai basil granite, red bean jellies, and condensed milk foam.

Café Boulud new york
Baked Mont Blanc with chestnut ice cream, ginger sorbet, and Swiss meringue. Photo by Café Boulud

As for the design, Jeffrey Beers International has modernised original features like black-and-white-tiled floors and vaulted ceilings by pairing them with mirrored panels, green-velvet banquettes, and polished stone. Boulud’s deep connection to the New York City art world is also on display, with European works showcased throughout.

Next year, Café Boulud will be accompanied in the same building by Maison Barnes, which will include a bar, a dining salon, a speakeasy, and more, all with an emphasis on classic French cooking. For now, though, the updated restaurant should be more than enough for Boulud fans.

This story was first published on Robb Report USA. Featured photo by Café Boulud