Cafe Boulud Brings Back Boulud Sud for the Summer (Photos)

Just imagine what it would be like, sitting on a classic schooner, with the sights, sounds, and smells of the Mediterranean in the background.

That would be the life; unfortunately, it takes boatloads of money to make it happen. And while we may be able to make it to the European coast, we're not experiencing the lifestyles of the rich and famous aboard a yacht -- hey, one can dream, right?

Your chance to pretend is back this year, but for that ninety-nine percenters can actually afford.

Cafe Boulud is hosting Boulud Sud, a pop-up of Daniel Boulud's Mediterranean-inspired concept, is back again for the summer. With a new executive chef and pastry chef, it has a slightly different influence from past events.

See Also: Rick Mace Takes the Reigns at Cafe Boulud

Starting at the beginning of the month, the restaurant began hosting the pop-up on the air-conditioned terrace overlooking the courtyard of the Brazilian Court hotel.

You may not feel a Mediterranean breeze flowing through your hair, but the staff does a good job of reinventing the space: flowers and olives trees line the perimeter, herbs in terracotta pots adorn each table, refreshing cocktails are offered on the list, the fare is light with fragrant olive oil and exotic spices.

While the premise is based off of Boulud's Manhattan restaurant Boulud Sud, which focuses on fare from around the Mediterranean Sea, this year there's a bit more of an eastern bent.

"I wanted to shake things up a bit," says executive chef Rick Mace. "The direction this year was more smoke and spice.

Mace, a self-described military brat, spent some time in his childhood living in Turkey. While there, he fell in love with the street food and bold spices that could be found all over the place.

The stone baked Arabic flatbread ($19) is a perfect example of the influence. Spiced lamb sits atop a fluffy flabread with pepperoncini, labneh (a yoghurt-based sauce), and grilled eggplant. Made using a customary technique, Mace actually purchased a stone oven to create the dish.

Moving further west, Mace also explored Greek flavors in some of the customary Boulud Sud dishes. This year, the octopus a la plancha ($24) is accompanied by whole butterball potatoes seasoned with meyer lemon, oregano, bay leaf, and kalamata olives, for a new twist on the Boulud Sud classic.

On the Italian side, the gambas al ajillo ($17) places sweet royal red shrimp in bagna cauda (a bath of olive oil, garlic, and herbs), with a side of fresh garlic focaccia. The flavors blend together beautifully, but it's really the quality of the shrimp that makes the dish. It's sourced from Titusville-based Wild Ocean, a sustainable fishery that actually forgoes nets, opting to hand-harvest the shrimp instead.

For an impressive presentation, try the spice-grilled chicken for two ($56). Rubbed with Morrocan spices, like cardamom, rose petal, and cinnamon, it's brought out on a cart and carved table-side. It's served with saffron rice pilaf, tzatziki, and beet salad.

"None of the dishes are very complex," says Mace. "We tried to seek clarity with flavors. It's a very straightforward menu."

Although the a la carte menu is on the pricier side, the restaurant is offering a special three-course prix fixe menu for $35, every night of the week. On Tuesdays, it offers a BYO special, with no corkage fee for wines. And if you're looking to stay the night, the hotel is offering a package deal, which includes a four-course menu with a glass of rose starting at $251 per night.

And hey, it's hell of a lot cheaper than a trip across the pond -- or even a flight to New York.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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