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The chef Daniel Bolud

Cuisine: Gastronomic French with a modern American twist.

Visit: September 2012

Price: Very high (Eating at a three Michelin restaurant in New York has its price).

Atmosphere: Classy, sophisticated and high-end. You better dress up for this occasion. Jacket and tie are required. Daniel has been occupying the top dining spot place in New York for many years and its clientelle is top-notch. There are two areas to eat there. A more casual room right next to the bar and an elegant, expensive looking main dining room. We ate at the more relaxed bar area as it also felt a bit younger and is much easier to book than a table at the main dining room. The food is same though.

The elegant interior at Daniel

Food: Playful, innovative and not too bold. I was quite surprised by the underplayed intensity of flavours in all dishes I ordered. The American palate usually craves something bolder, saltier, fattier and sometimes even creamier, but the chef Daniel Bolud took a slightly European approach in his recipes at his flagship restaurant Daniel.

Starting with a seasonal dish of the QUARTET OF ECKERTON HILL FARM HEIRLOOM TOMATOES I expected to test the chef’s cooking art to see what he can do with one vegetable – the tomato. And a test it was. I was served a chilled tomato soup, an eggplant and tomato sorbet, yellow tomato coulis salad and a basil pistou confit with Brunet cheese. All creative and interesting, but not very tasty for my palate. For some reason I found the dish quite boring.

Four tomato variations

My partner was more lucky as he started with MAINE PEEKYTOE CRAB SALAD served with pickled spicebush berries, celery shavings and walnut oil. The delicate crab meat was rolled in a thin slice of cucumber and drizzled with walnut oil which elegantly matched the crab and balanced its seafood rustic nature. The veggies added crisp and refreshing zing. In this dish the chef’s excellent balancing skill had sparkled. If I see it on the menu next time, I would not think twice and ordered this Crab Salad.

MAINE PEEKYTOE CRAB SALAD

Moving to the main courses with SLOW BAKED THINLY SLICED STRIPED BASS topped with a cucumber daikon salad, lump fish caviar and wild spearmint-kaffir lime gremolata, I learned that my choice was unfortunate once again. The flavours of the partially cooked fish did not integrate well with the fresh cucumber daikon salad, although both were very good. the combination of ingredients in this dish just did not charm my palate at all.

Slowly baked striped bass carpaccio

On the other hand, my partner’s DUO OF ELYSIAN FIELD LAMB CHOPS served with with roasted fennel and arugula salad was delicious. The confit ribs were glazed with fig balsamic and the lamb’s meaty nature worked very well with Tarbais bean purée.

During this first and so far the last dining experience at the famous Daniel restaurant in New York I have learned that I need to know what the chef’s strengths are so I can choose wisely and enjoy the meal as I could have if I had ordered the right dishes.

The cheese selection is quite interesting as most of the cheese is local or at least comes from the US. It was good, but not as the cheese at Gotham Bar and Grill I had just a night ago.

Drinks: You can have a cocktail or a glass of wine at the bar before or after your dinner. It is a vibrant spot with an elegant atmosphere. The wine list at Daniel is outstanding. You will find treasures from the old as well as the new world vineyards. We went for a glass of Champagne and a bottle of red Burgundy – Chambolle Musigni 2007 1er Cru from Bertheau. The French Pinot Noir was a perfect compromise to match our dishes ranging from fish to meat. It was elegant and well-balanced so one could drink it also on its own.

Opening hours: Dinner: Mon-Thu 5:30PM-11PM, Fri-Sat 5:30PM-11PM, closed on Sunday; Lunch only for private events.

Address: 60 East 65th Street  New York, NY 10065, USA

Contact: +1 (212) 288-0033

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A wide smile, brisk movements and a loquacious temperament would never reveal that a sommelier working at one of the top French restaurants in New York where he is talking every night to myriad of customers was once a shy boy who wanted to be a chef.

 André Compreyre is a sommelier (wine waiter) at Bouley, a two Michelin star restaurant located in Tribecca, recently the most fashionable area in Manhattan.

Bouley restaurant New York-map

Inspiration

He has always had a close relationship with food. André said: ”My grandmother’s cooking meant a lot to me as I learned to appreciate what to put into my mouth.” Later on, when he was studying at hotelier school in France, his teacher Guy Blandin (the best sommelier in France in 1964) recommend him to continue his course as a sommelier and here his big story started.

Reaching the stars

He worked in two Michelin star restaurants in France and at Le Gavroche in London. 15 years ago he decided to move to the US where he reached the stars as he was employed by Alain Ducasse at his Essex-House in New York, followed by a French top-restaurant Daniel, Les Halles and finally Bouley aspiring for its third Michelin star.

Different times

Today most of the aspiring sommeliers would have dreamt to work in places like this. But times have changed. Andrew said: “At that time there was no work for a sommelier unless you went to a two or three Michelin star restaurant, it was a new profession.

Wiser customers

Not only the situation for sommeliers has changed, but also the customers are different. He said: ”These days consumers are more knowledgeable about wines and trust us more. We are not any more the bad guys trying to sell them expensive wines. Instead, they see we try to respond to their needs.”

Wine favourites

What is the most popular wine the most customers prefer? André frowned for the first time during our interview as he went on with his discernible French accent: ”I think it is Sauvignon Blanc as it is quite consistent and not like a Chardonnay which changes depending on a producer. For me, personally, it depends on the food I am having it with. Moreover, I appreciate wines which have a message to deliver through their history, producer and uniqueness.”

Throughout his splendid career he has learned that there are two kinds of customers. Those who know what they want and you do not discuss it with them. The second group, his favourite, are the regular guests whose taste he knows so well, that they give him a free hand to bring him what he finds enchanting to their palate.

After our two hours’ conversation he disclosed: “I am lucky as I am working as what is my passion.” It is easy to agree with him. The work of a sommelier became to be appreciated by many diners. André added:”Guests come to a recognised restaurant for good food and you can double the pleasure with wine.”

MY NOTE:

I met André at a cosy basement of Bouley. I was very thankful as I just met him the previous night when he recommended to us a great bottle of Bordeaux to accompany our delicious dinner. My inquisitiveness encouraged me to ask him for an interview and here is the result.

NEW WINE BAR IN TRIBECA: Andre with David Bouley recently opened a new wine bar with a traditional ambiance. It is called “By the Ounce”.

ADDRESS: By the ounce wine & cheese bar 
120 West Broadway 
NY, NY 10013

PICTURE source: Andre Compreyre

MAP source: Google maps

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