Cafe Boulud on the UES is the casual version of Daniel. But that’s kind of like saying a debutante ball is the casual version of a wedding - it’s still not very casual. When you arrive at this French restaurant, someone will call you “monsieur” or “mademoiselle,” you’ll see a room of people wearing sport jackets, and you may even encounter a server carrying a single black truffle in a case we can only describe as the glass with the rose from Beauty And The Beast. The French food here, like foie gras and buttery striploin, is all classic and expertly-prepared. But, between the plating, the bunker-esque dining room, and stiff formality of it all, Cafe Boulud feels distinctly stuck in ‘90s gastronomy culture. Come to Cafe Boulud if you have a lot of money to spend on Wednesday night dinners near Central Park - there’s pretty much no other reason to eat here.
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Fancy though it may be, Eleven Madison Park is surprisingly lively. But make no mistake, this is fine dining at its most serious.
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