Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lunch | Bouchon Bakery

After a long day of trekking through the city for macarons to celebrate Macaron Day in NYC, Marcus and I made a final stop at Bouchon Bakery over at the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. Bouchon Bakery was on the list of 2011 Macaron Day NYC participants, but by the time we got there, I overheard the servers saying that they were out of free macarons. Marcus and I had hit the ending point of the macaron euphoria, so luckily not all was lost. We just wanted some real food in our stomachs before the sugar settled in nicely to cause stomachaches of the ages.

Another tidbit to add to the background of why eating here was quite significant -- the two of us have our trip to San Francisco planned for May 19 through May 25. That being said, we've had our hearts set on finding a way to nab a table at The French Laundry, Thomas Keller's well-renowned flagship restaurant in Yountville, California. Per the restaurant's reservation policy, reservations can be made two months in advance to the calendar day, so we had to start calling on March 19 to attempt to get a table. We had no such luck that Saturday afternoon--even after 30 straight minutes of hardcore dialing by myself, Marcus, and Lisa (only to get a damned busy signal), the mâitre d' informed us, to our pitiful dismay, all tables were taken. Repeat the same situation on March 20 (this very day), so imagine how disappointed and bummed we were, after only two days of trying, with a remaining four chances left. After all, we were planning our whole vacation around this impossible dinner. So as a consolation (however desperate and sad), I made a comment as we sat down on the third floor elegant makeshift bistro that is Bouchon Bakery, pointing out this may be the closest we'll ever get to Chef Keller and The French Laundry. Marcus was determined and didn't really appreciate my sarcastic comment. Little did I know that Marcus's ingenuity would score us lunch reservations the next afternoon for a table for two on May 21 (more to share in the next couple months), so I was really biting my tongue then.

I didn't want anything too heavy, especially after having so many macarons that afternoon, so I opted for the tartine of roast beef with pickled vegetables, Bordelaise mayonnaise-aioli, and melted cheddar over a heavy slice of bread (which I believe to be a variation of French sourdough). I can't seem to find the official menu item description, but that's as precise as I can recall it! In any case, the Bordelaise aioli made the tartine's contents come together really nicely. The slightly sour taste of the pickled vegetables (an assortment of fennel, carrots, and radish) with the soft and tender roast beef and a mildly sharp melted cheddar mixed in with this Bordelaise aioli spread (typically a brown sauce with beef marrow and red wine) was, hands down, the best tartine I've ever had. It was a little bit difficult to eat because the slice of bread it was on was long and not cut into shorter pieces, the way I've usually seen tartines served, but this minor inconvenience was diminished by the tartine's amazing flavors.

Marcus decided to go with the oven-smoked Turkey -- smoked turkey breast with hook’s 5-year cheddar cheese, and apple mustard (custom ordered without watercress and red onion) on whole wheat pecan bread. He enjoyed the bread the most, mainly because it was toasted with a nice texture and not very messy. The mustard had a mild taste to it which didn't overpower the rest of the sandwich's contents. Though he wished there was a slightly more turkey, he reported to me that overall, it was a very good sandwich.

Findings: Overall, Marcus and I enjoyed our experience at Bouchon Bakery. We enjoyed its casual setting and the sandwiches that it had to offer. We went around 3-4PM so there was a casual afternoon lunch crowd, most catching up after a day of sightseeing or shopping, while others were just meeting up with friends. During a next visit, I'd love to try the pastries and desserts on the menu. I know Williams-Sonoma carries a line of Bouchon Bakery products (mostly pre-made mixes that come with easy-to-follow instructions), and I've successfully made the chocolate bouchons (i.e., cork-shaped miniature chocolate cakes) and cinnamon pecan waffles. I'm curious to find out how good the other desserts and offerings they have are! Also, the restaurant doesn't accept reservations, but I would say that tables aren't hard to come by. We just asked for a table for two, and we were seated immediately. So I recommend Bouchon Bakery for a casual afternoon lunch and urge you to try the desserts and pastries, too.

Price point: $13-14 for each sandwich/tartine.

--March 20, 2011

Bouchon Bakery
Time Warner Center
10 Columbus Circle, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10019

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