Cafe Boulud opens December 15, the rebirth of the restaurant that chef Daniel Boulud likens to his family’s long-ago cafe run by his grandparents on his family farm outside Lyon, France.
The opening of the 80-seat restaurant reinforces the neighborhood as a fine dining destination, with ambitious spots like his own Restaurant Daniel celebrating its 30th year; the acclaimed two-Michelin starred Sushi Noz; Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s JoJo; Kappo Masa; and Eli’s Table, among others.
Fine dining aficionados have been awaiting the reopening of Cafe Boulud, which had resided in its former location in the Surrey Hotel since 1998 and closed in 2021 during the pandemic. The hotel was sold to U.K.-based billionaires, the Reuben brothers, and the restaurant was replaced by Miami Beach import, Casa Tua.
The resurrected Cafe Boulud, at 100 E. 63rd Street at Park Avenue, maintains its menu sectioned by la saison, la tradition, le potager (vegetables), and le voyage. The head chef is Romain Paumier, who moved over from Restaurant Daniel. He will steer the kitchen in making dishes like quiche carotte vadouvan, black sea bass wrapped in potatoes and dressed in red wine sauce; and grilled salmon with citrus and spicy avocado dressing. The pastry chef is Katalina Diaz, also previously at Daniel, who will make desserts such as a baked Mont Blanc with chestnut ice cream, ginger sorbet, vermicelle, and Swiss meringue. Dishes on the a la carte menu run from about $20 to $50.
Some of the architectural flourishes of the restaurant remain as it was when the room had been home Michael White’s Vaucluse for several years. In other aspects, the room, designed by Jeffrey Beers International, feels updated in keeping with the tony neighborhood. The room features lots of natural light and walls that showcase 20th-century artwork from the likes of Miro, Matisse, and Calder. The vaulted ceilings and black-and-white tile floors are the originals.
The original Cafe Boulud, a family restaurant at the family farm outside of Lyon, was started by his great grandparents, but it was where he sparked an interest in cooking, as he escaped from farm chores to help in the kitchen. The black-and-white photograph of diners at a table from that very cafe can be found on the website.
Chef Gavin Kaysen, at Cafe Boulud for an event last week, described cooking at the restaurant as being given “the keys to the Ferrari.” Around 2008, he ran the Cafe Boulud kitchen until 2014, eventually moving to Minneapolis to open his own restaurants.
The restaurant is opening in partnership with a luxury realty group, Barnes International Realty. This year, Boulud’s restaurant group Dinex opened Blue Box Cafe in Tiffany; celebrated 30 years of Restaurant Daniel, and opened a restaurant in partnership with American Express, Centurion NY.
Today, Daniel Boulud runs about a dozen New York City restaurants, over 20 around the world, and has mentored scores of chefs who have gone on to open their own restaurants around the country. The New York Cafe Boulud is the first; there are others in Palm Beach, Toronto, and the Bahamas.