Open the door into Bouley and you will be greeted with a wall full of deliciously looking apples (they are real apples, by the way). Make your way towards the hostess stand and you will be welcomed by a maitre'd, complete with a native French accent. C'est tres authentiqueBouley is a romantic restaurant, a very romantic restaurant.

Pumpkin soup, roasted chestnut, pine nuts

Carpaccio of kampachi, blue fin tuna, amber jack, truffles

Tomato coulis

Our server Syed deserves the award for Server of the Year at Bouley. He was extremely attentive, friendly, and yet professional. We chatted and when he found out we were from Chicago, he must have told the kitchen about it because lo and behold, we received 3 complimentary courses in addition to our 5-course tasting menu for lunch. Needless to say, we were stuffed by the end of the meal. The food was excellently executed and delicate that we were extremely grateful for Bouley's generosity. Sometimes when going for a multiple course meal, not every dish might be executed as well as the others but it wasn't the case during our experience at Bouley.

Treasures of wild mushroom

Roasted black cod, pistachio miso paste, aromatic ginger, black garlic powder

When Syed saw that we had our camera with us, he suggested that he help us take a picture, once before lunch and once again after lunch. For the shot before lunch, he was trying to help us get the perfect shot from the perfect angle. When the kitchen staff arrived at the table with our amuse bouche, Syed told the kitchen staff "Hold on, I'm trying to take a picture", and to which the kitchen staff just stood there while holding our plates and waiting for Syed to perfect his photographic shot of T and I. It was quite hilarious especially when the kitchen staff joked about Syed, "He thinks he's a good photographer but he's not".

Poached egg, celery, white truffle, cheese stick

Long island duck, pomme puree, kumquat, honey truffle

Kobe beef cheek, kale, potato gnocchi, ricotta sauce

We ordered wine and the charming French sommelier (yes, with an authentic French accent) was extremely helpful in articulating the wine recommendations based on our preference for types of wines. He recommended the very special French Chardonnay and to which I said that I'm not a big fan of Chardonnay. He calmly said in his French accent, This is not like your typical California Chardonnay. I was deciding between the French Chardonnay and German Riesling and finally decided on the Chardonnay but the sommelier still very kindly let me taste the Riesling when he brought out my Chardonnay.

Lychee sorbet, honey tangerine, crispy honey comb

Toasted bulgur wheat ice-cream

April 2012 marks Syed's 10-year employment with Bouley. I think this is a reflection of Bouley as a very well-run place since in the service industry, it is very common to have a high turn over rate of staff. As we got up from our table to leave after our excellent leisure lunch, Syed walked us out to the entrance and told us about the ancient ceiling and door fixtures used at Bouley. The very old wooden door leading to the dining room was brought in from Paris, we were told.

Hot caramelized Anjou pears, French vanilla and lemon verbena ice-cream

Cheese plate with shaved cheese bouquet at the center

Chocolate mousse cake

Petit fours

Bouley is deserving of it's 1 Michelin Star that's for sure. Their 5-course lunch menu for $55 (weekdays + weekends) is a very good deal that no one should miss. We only wished we had the chance of meeting Chef David Bouley in person but after dessert we were told that he had just left the kitchen for the farmers market (an everyday routine where he sources for fresh ingredients).

163 Duane St
New York, NY 10013

2012 1-Michelin Star Award
2011 1-Michelin Star Award
2010 1-Michelin Star Award
2008 2-Michelin Star Award
2007 2-Michelin Star Award
2006 2-Michelin Star Award
2000 James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef
1991 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant

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