Daniel Bouloud has built an empire of restaurants based on the reputation of the original Daniels. The flagship restaurant now resides in an impressive, large dining room with some art deco touches in an upper East Side location. Lighting in the evening is very low, which may be atmospheric but is not conducive to food photos. Three courses costs USD 105, a six course tasting menu USD 185.
The hefty wine list included choices such as JJ Prum Kabinett 2007 at USD 90 compared to a shop price of around USD 29, the sublime Guigal La Mouline 1996 at USD 650 for a wine that will cost you around USD 350 to buy, and Saintsbury Carneros 2006 USD 55 for a wine that you can buy for around USD 29 in the shops.
Of the wide variety of breads I tried sourdough, olive and rosemary, three seed roll, garlic focaccia, baguette and walnut and raisin. They were apparently made in the kitchen’s own bakery (17/20). Nibbles of golden beet salad, beetroot mousse and salmon cured with beet juice with chive aioli were pleasant though not particularly exciting, and rather oddly served with an oyster, which seemed to me a peculiar thing to serve alongside beetroot (15/20).
I tried the Jerusalem artichoke soup, a dish I loved on my first visit here. Perhaps it was just my memory but it did not seem to have the intensity of flavour that so impressed me on my first visit. The soup is poured over salsify custard, hazelnuts and a quail and foie gras ballotine, which add a luxurious balance to the earthy artichoke flavour (17/20).
Peekytoe Maine crab salad was served with celery, walnut oil and Granny Smith sauce. This has a lovely fresh flavour, the crab fresh and its accompaniments having natural affinity with the shellfish (18/20). Black sea bass was served with a Syrah sauce, leek royale and pommes Lyonaisse. The fish was cooked carefully, the potatoes had good texture and the sauce worked nicely with the sea bass; seasoning was also well judged (18/20).
I had beef, which was black Angus prepared in two ways. Short rib was braised in red wine and served with a parsnip and potato gratin. Rib-eye was seared and served with black trumpet mushrooms and Gorgonzola cream. The beef in both cases had excellent taste and was carefully cooked, and although the accompaniments sound rather over-complicated the flavours worked well together (18/20).
Citrus biscuit with pink grapefruit was served with lemon confit and mandarin sorbet. This was an appropriately refreshing dessert after the richness of the beef, the lemon well balanced and the ice cream having smooth texture (18/20).
The service was smooth and efficient all evening, despite the sheer size of the dining room. Overall I found this meal very enjoyable, if a fraction less so than my first meal here. It is not achieving the summit of French cooking in my view, but is certainly a fine experience. It was also nice to see Daniel Bouloud actually in this evening, chatting to some guests.
I made only cursory notes on a meal in February 2002. Along with Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud is the most talented chef I have encountered in America. A Jerusalem artichoke soup I had there was pure 3 Michelin star level, and while not everything hits those heights, the standard of cooking here is extremely high, justifying the admittedly steep prices.