Up Front With Martin B. Deutsch
Boulud at His Best Near Lincoln Center
November 17, 2016 -- The next Restaurant Week in New York is scheduled for late January. If you're already making a list of restaurants to sample, may I suggest Boulud Sud?

As you may know, Boulud Sud is part of the growing array of fine dining spots created by French-born Daniel Boulud. The chef and entrepreneur has restaurants in nine other major cities around the world, but Boulud, originally from Lyon, seems most at home in New York.

He's been in the Big Apple for 35 years and the just-released 2017 Zagat Guide confirms Boulud's primacy in New York. All of his places rank near the top of Zagat's choicest tables in town.

It was last summer's edition of Restaurant Week when a friend and I sampled the special lunch menu at Boulud Sud. It is one of Boulud's trio of spots, including Bar Boulud and Épicerie Boulud, situated at the edge of Manhattan's Lincoln Center complex on the Upper West Side. All three share generous outdoor space, a commodity New Yorkers crave as much as fine food.

Given the favorable weather, we opted for outdoor seating. We found the wicker chairs somewhat low and hard, a problem quickly solved when a server loped off and returned in under a minute with two extremely comfortable seat cushions. Protected from the sun by the table umbrella, as well as nearby buildings and clouds, it was quite pleasant until the sun shifted and it got hotter.

The restaurant itself, which sports floor-to-ceiling windows, vaulted ceilings and a spacious Mid-Century Modern interior design, provides an equally airy and relaxing indoor dining option. That'll be what you'll experience if you try Boulud Sud in January.

As long-time veterans of Restaurant Week dining in the Big Apple, my lunch companion and I this time around experienced a different, and welcome, aspect of the promotion. Our three-course lunch ($29) was characterized by liberal portions. In the past, both the lunch and dinner offerings on special Restaurant Week menus around town were often minimal. Not so at Boulud Sud.

The servings of Norwegian smoked salmon appetizers, quite frankly the best I ever had, were incredibly generous. The excellent main course of seared tuna was more than I could handle. And I was barely able to dispose of a peach and nectarine crostata for dessert. It wasn't just large, it was so tasty that it could have been freshly baked in France.

Opened in 2011, Boulud Sud is known for its Mediterranean menu. Dishes emphasize fish and vegetables enhanced by regional spices and seasonings. Offerings find their inspiration everywhere from Boulud's home region in the South of France to the coast of North Africa.

As is the case with many Restaurant Week promotions, we got an abbreviated (but representative) taste of Boulud Sud's larger, year-round menu at a very reasonable price. The $29 three-course lunch was $42 during dinner hours.

This time around, you could choose from five appetizers. Two, chilled gazpacho and fattoush salad, were available without a price supplement. The others, including Gambas Al Ajillo (shrimp) and Octopus a la Plancha, commanded a surcharge. The main courses, sans supplement, were our seared tuna, a ratatouille and a grilled lamb burger. Sweet corn agnolotti pasta and chicken tagine were available at an extra charge. Desserts included the aforementioned crostata and chocolate biscotti (my companion's choice) as well as gelato and house-made crème glacee. There was a supplement for the Grapefruit Givre or the Tiramisu Cube.

Our meal included several kinds of breads, most notably two delicious variations, with either olives or parmesan. Service, provided by multiple staffers, was friendly and easygoing as befits an outdoor environment.

Boulud Sud even offered a special Restaurant Week Cocktail (a riff on a Tom Collins for $11) and a very attractively priced bottle of wine at $29. Its regularly priced wine list is impressive and wines by the glass cost $11 to $19. My companion had a draught Ballast Point pale ale ($11). Draught ($9 to $11) and bottled ($9 to $12) beer are always on offer at Boulud Sud.

Getting a reservation during the summer and winter Restaurant Week promotions in New York can be challenging. That's true even though Restaurant Week is something of a misnomer. Both the summer and winter varieties span two weeks each. We scored our Boulud Sud reservations through Open Table, the online service.

For $29 (plus tax and tips), I believe we got a true sense of Boulud Sud's dining experience, both the ambiance and service. And even with the abbreviated menu, I think we got a good overview of the kitchen's variety and depth.

As with his other New York outposts, Daniel Boulud is doing it right at Boulud Sud. If you happen to be in New York outside the upcoming winter Restaurant Week, spend a few dollars more and enjoy the experience then, too.

This column is Copyright © 2016 by Martin B. Deutsch. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Martin B. Deutsch. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.