Review: Café Boulud’s new Lyonnais menu is Boulud at his best
Café Boulud ★★★
60 Yorkville Ave., 416-963-6000
Daniel Boulud, the New York–based celebrity chef, has a reputation for assiduous Frenchness to protect. When he opened an outpost at the new Toronto Four Seasons two years ago, he goofed by adapting his formula to trendy Canadiana, of which the city already had its fill. So last summer he bumped the chef de cuisine in favour of a Boulud-trained pro named Sylvain Assié, replaced the tacky, Dallas-esque decor with walnut panelling, a marble bar and modish leather banquettes, and reverted to what he does best: rustic yet meticulously executed bistro standards.
There are a couple of pit stops in Southeast Asia to keep your tastebuds alert, like a hot pepper and kaffir lime sauce on airy calamari beignets, or a gingery pho-like beef broth with glass noodles. But otherwise the menu is resolutely Lyonnais—caramelized apple and onions with truffled boudin blanc, for instance, or crispy- skinned duck confit, for which the precise, attentive servers will happily replace sautéed potatoes with a copper bowl of thyme-flecked frites that are among the tastiest around. As part of the overhaul, they’ve installed a rotisserie (shipped from France, bien sûr) on which Assié prepares whole poultry and fish as well as the pineapple that appears on the dessert list. It’s brushed lovingly and liberally with rum, then rotated for hours until it’s lusciously bronzed. It’s the sort of labour-intensive, guiltily pleasurable end to the night that’s Boulud at his best.
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