Café Conspiracy

Take away the salt shakers and this place could be topnotch

Some items are worth the price. The raw shellfish, for instance. was composed of plump, Belon oysters that had been sourced from Maine. Served as cold as the waters from which they come, with traditional mignonette and cocktail sauces, the oysters had a tight velvety texture with a bit of a crunch. The winning gesture was the inclusion of a seventh oyster -- a kind of baker's half dozen.

We also enjoyed the salade Lyonnaise, a platter that featured sautéed chicken livers, moist duck confit, lardons (chunks of bacon), and a perfectly poached egg. All the richness was cut by a light-green, young frisée that had been wrapped in a pleasant, non-obtrusive vinaigrette. Potato-leek soup, however, was less flavorful than we'd expected. It tasted more like fennel than leeks and was a bit too smooth in texture to contain much of either the Gruyère or the country-style croutons with which it was billed.

Main courses suffered across the board from too much salt: It was stirred into the dark, rich jus that accompanied a duo of Rioja-braised short ribs and hangar steak, and it was freshly ground on top of truffle-braised snapper served over Vichy carrots and pea shoots. Despite the brininess, I was pleased with Boulud's softly shredding short ribs. The hangar steak was less winning, with an unexpectedly tough texture, and a stuffed marrow bone tasted like nothing more than buttery breadcrumbs. The snapper also lacked flavor but featured salt, with no hint of truffles whatsoever. The thick fillet, however, which had a broad flake more consistent with mutton or mangrove snapper, was expertly prepared and exquisitely fresh.

The chocolate soufflé is a creation of pastry chef Rémy Fünfrock.
Colby Katz
The chocolate soufflé is a creation of pastry chef Rémy Fünfrock.

Location Info

Map

Cafe Boulud

301 Australian Ave.
Palm Beach, FL 33480

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Palm Beach

Details

Call 561-655-6060. Breakfast daily from 7 a.m. till 10 a.m., Saturday and Sunday till 11 a.m. Lunch daily from noon till 2:30 p.m. Dinner daily from 5:30 till 10 p.m.
Brazilian Court, 301 Australian Ave., Palm Beach

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The roasted Amish chicken breast, an organically raised bird, had more flavor than the norm of other commercially purveyed poultry. A strong assortment of autumnal vegetables, including braised Brussels sprouts and a sweet, starchy whip of parsnip, elevated the bird to fancy comfort-food status. Same goes for the fresh artichoke-stuffed ravioli, which was dressed with a vibrant brown butter, black truffle, and snipped chervil sauce. Again, the salinity of both dishes was high, but the other aspects compensated.

One other caveat is portion size. For $30, I'd like to see more than six small ravioli on the plate. And a dégustátion of cheeses for dessert -- a selection of four smidgeons -- is tempting for the nonsweets lover but, at $17, not for the modest of budget. The chocolate soufflé with pistachio ice cream is much less expensive, but at least it's an opportunity to sample the homemade goods of pastry chef Rémy Fünfrock. Just saying his name makes me smile.

Speaking of chefs, Daniel Boulud, as one might anticipate, is only occasionally on the premises. Chef de cuisine Zach Bell handles the kitchen, and if he confiscates the salt shakers from his prep cooks, Café Boulud could make the grade -- though perhaps not the top ten list.

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