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Pete Wells Digs Bouley, a Restaurant That Appeals to 'Romantics and Sensualists'

Those apples in the lobby still do the trick.

Daniel Krieger

Bouley is an unusual restaurant with frilly decor and elaborate food. But Pete Wells enjoys his time at David Bouley's Tribeca flagship, and he finds that its eccentricities often work in its favor. Here's the Times critic on a dish that really knocked his socks off:

For sure, the most dramatic dish in New York is the Malibu sea urchin in its spiky shell that looks like a medieval torture device. Inside is a layered composition of almond and soy milk; tofu; soy and vinegar; yuzu jelly and bursting orbs of salmon trout roe; creamy tongues of sea urchin under yuzu sorbet; and an olive-green spoonful of golden osetra caviar. Swooshed around it all is a puckering froth of green apple juice. Each bite is exciting in a different way.

A few courses fall flat, and Wells experienced some service hiccups on his visits. He also notes an unfortunate gender imbalance in the front of the house staff. But ultimately, Wells finds that this is a "restaurant for romantics and sensualists," and it's worthy of three stars. That's the same rating that Frank Bruni gave Bouley back in 2009.