If there was any restaurant that I’ve been “chomping at the bit” to get into recently, it’s Café Boulud Baha Mar, the newest dining outpost from Chef Daniel Boulud who is known for bringing contemporary appeal to soulful dishes rooted in the French tradition. So, of course, when the opportunity presented itself, I made a beeline for a seat at a Chef Daniel table at the Rosewood, his foray into an island nation.
I agreed to allow Executive Chef David LePage to curate a tasting menu from the menu which is inspired by seasonal culinary muses – La Tradition, representing classic dishes of French cuisine; La Saison which features seasonality taking into account the newness of spring; La Voyage which, of course, takes inspiration from places far and wide and creating a dish that has an identity with the cuisine; and La Mer muse with seafood as the focal point, seeing his newest outpost is on an island by water.
Suffice it to say, I was excited and eagerly sat back and allowed Chef LePage to do his thing. He opted to take a gander across all of the seasons, starting with La Tradition (classics and country cooking) and the avocado vichyssoise – chilled avocado soup with shrimp, dill, caviar and crème fraiche. An update on traditional cold soup, the avocado version, an ode to the Bahamian climate, poured tableside was delightful to the eyes with its vibrant green color.
Lusciously thick and silky, the avocado vichyssoise with perfectly cooked sweet plump shrimp and the added textural surprise from crisp potato chips, and sweet brininess from the dollop of caviar, proved to be a stunning experience.
LePage followed the vichyssoise with the citrus cured hamachi with fennel, watermelon, Fresno pepper and shiso. Everything came together for the absolute perfect bite. I, from time-to-time, have a put the fork down moment to ruminate on an experience – this hamachi dish was one of those moments. It left me with a hankering for the full portion and not just the tasting portion. I’m still having dreams about the lovely chilled fish paired with sweet, juicy watermelon; licoricey anise; fruity, smokey Fresno pepper and just a hint of the mysterious bright taste of shiso that reminds you of a gamut of tastes from mint to basil, tarragon, cilantro, cinnamon, anise.
Café Boulud’s agnolotti is served with ricotta and spinach ravioli, tomato sauce and pine nuts. When done right, agnolotti to me means happiness as they are extremely delicate and almost ethereal. At Café Boulud, they were pure perfection.
On his tasting menu for the evening, LePage opted to serve Berkshire porkchop from La Saison (spring flavors). The Berskshire porkchop is served with bacon crust, roasted cabbage, sweet potato and mustard, and while I admit the Berkshire pork is renowned for its richness, texture, marbling, juiciness, tenderness and overall depth of flavor, I opted to peruse La Mer (inspired by the sea) – and ended up with the red snapper with pepper fricassee, chorizo, mojo verde sauce. This was absolutely fantastic, and again, I wanted more.
The tasting menu was simply whetting my appetite for a return visit.
Continuing with the tasting surprises, I was seduced by both sweet endings that found their way to the table – a stunning mango vacherin (coconut Chantilly, with mango sorbet, meringue and passion fruit); and seriously decadent chocolate coulant – salted caramel and vanilla ice cream.
The crisp-creamy French dessert that is the mango vacherin at Café Boulud features a mound of mango sorbet surrounded by broken meringue pieces, and passion fruit with sweet Chantilly cream. This dessert hits all the right notes of sweet and tangy.
The chocolate coulant is served simply, but elegantly. You really don’t need to mess with perfection in this instance. It is a hot cake with molten chocolate heart. The taste and texture, make this a popular, elegant and distinguished dessert. It is taken up a notch in decadence with the addition of salted caramel and vanilla ice cream.
After an amazing tasting journey, that left me wanting a quick return visit, I was taken aback when my server delivered an extra treat to the table, chef Daniel’s madeleine cookies which I had hoped would be on the menu, but aren’t. These sugar-coated pastries leave a lasting impression once you’ve had them. Served warm, the mini delights are served cozied up in a warm napkin and with every meal, at the end, for a super sweet touch.
And make no mistake about it, the wine is just as important as the food at Café Boulud. Chef Daniel says they are on equal footing. Wine lovers can expect to be impressed by the depth of the wine list and the sommelier’s knowledge.