Bar Boulud follows the key themes of Daniel's cooking: fine French food set in a relaxed bistro like environment with an emphasis on charcuterie including his famous pates, terrines and sausages. Indeed, we started our meal with a shared charcuterie board where both the rabbit terrine (pulled rabbit, carrot, courgette and herbs) and lamb pate (slow cooked spiced leg of lamb, aubergine and seet potato) were of exceptional quality, amongst the best we've ever tasted.
A trip to a Boulud restaurant wouldn't be complete without a famous sausage. We chose a Boudin blanc to share - a white pork sausage without the blood. This was served with a white truffle mash, cooked apple and a reduction. The sausage had an almost pate like texture and a fork combining all components of the dish balanced perfectly and again provided for a first class dish.
Following this, we received a small bonus. Having seen calves head on the menu posted at the front door but not on the table menu, a casual enquiry led to the staff treating us to a tasting sample of the terrine. Huge texture and huge taste, it's definitely worth giving this a go for calves head newbies like us.
Fot the starters - yes everything till now was a pre-starter - we ordered a Petite Aioli that was a beautifully presented plate of shrimp, muscles, clams and olive oil poached cod together with quali egg, dipping veg and breadsticks. My starter was the warm white and green asparagus with crispy egg which was a visual as well as a gustatory treat. All the ingredients were super fresh, super tasty and cooked to perfection. The crispy egg cut into just oozed over the asparagus and added a new dimension to a classic dish.
On the subject of wine, the wine list is dominated by Burgundy and Rhone wines being the territories of Daniel Boulud's home; Bordeaux, our normal drinking hunting ground is pretty much absent altogether from the on-line wine list but had a page though at the table. Now, with good Burgundies able to make class Bordeaux look cheap in comparison, what to do in a restaurant which includes a substantial mark up? Bizarrely, while checking out the Bordeaux page thinking that the best value would likely be had instead from a new world wine (which was to be my next destination), I spotted a Chateau Latour 1994 for £226. Okay, sure, £226 for a bottle of wine is not the obvious choice for a casual Friday lunch but this is a first growth wine in a restaurant at a price I would more normally expect to see in a shop. In fact, acccording to wine-searcher the cheapest I can source it on-line is from Fine & Rare Wines at £214 a bottle ex VAT (£251 after). Did Bar Boulud forget to put the '1' in front of the 226; I didn't know and I didn't care and I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth so what the hell, we ordered a bottle. 1994 might have been a journeyman vintage but Latour just doesn't produce bad wine and this was simply awesome. Michael Broadbent described the wine as 'unbalanced' with a 'hard finish' but it simply wasn't the case with the bottle we drank. In a nutshell, buy it while stocks last or before Bar Boulud read this blog and realise they've mispriced it.