Where Daniel Boulud is concerned, The Restaurant Dieter may not demur. His husband is so passionate about the chef that no new venture can be ignored for long. Not surprisingly, another recent trip to New York landed us at Boulud Sud on the Upper West Side, the French master’s foray into Mediterranean cooking.
And what a trip it was: The restaurant touts foods from France’s Côte d’Azur to Spain, Italy, Greece, North Africa and Turkey. If the food isn’t to your taste, well at least there’s the geography lesson to consider.
Fortunately, the food lives up to Boulud’s high standards.
The menu divides the dishes based on where they come from: De La Ferme (the farm), De La Mer (the sea) and Du Jardin (the garden). There are appetizers, plates to share, mains and side dishes. In fact, the garden menu is a bounty of vegetable dishes; a vegetarian or even a vegan could do rather well here.
Seeing as this was a Boulud enterprise, the server was knowledgeable, pleasant and helpful. He pointed out several diet-friendly dishes, mostly from the fish main courses. His timing was excellent, for it allowed us to move past danger territory.
Moments before, the bread basket had arrived with a garlic foccacia and buttery flat bread that reminded one of Indian paratha rather than a more typical pita-style flatbread. It was crispy, chewy, yeasty and buttery all at the same time. And that was plain, served with nothing. Imagine it served with Boulud Sud’s hummus or babaganoush. It could easily have been our entire dinner and a diet disaster.
Instead, a serviceable classic Greek salad arrived for me (dressing and feta on the side, of course) and delicately fried artichoke hearts, Roman style, for my spouse. I tasted a piece of one with a dab of aioli — just enough to know that I was better off with the salad. It consisted of tender and small whole romaine leaves from the middle of the heat, fat heirloom tomato chunks, kalamata olives, shaved red onion, seeded cucumber and peproncini.
As a main, I ordered an appetizer portion of grilled blue shrimp and two of the vegetable side dishes, which are large enough to share. The shrimp came head on and with the smoky bouquet of the grill. They rested on a subtle watercress puree and pungent grilled chicory.
The real highlights were the vegetables. Broccoli rabe with a pleasantly bitter edge was charred and tossed with pepperoncini, topped crispy shallots. Tucked among tiny roasted beets were dollops of a lucious, thick Greek-style yogurt infused with a dust of finely chopped pistachio.
Sometimes, you have to just admit your spouse is right.
|Roast beet with pistachio yogurt|