Thursday, February 11, 2016

The New Café Boulud at The Four Seasons Yorkville

Michelin-star chef Daniel Boulud’s newly renovated French Brasserie located in Toronto's Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville, Café Boulud, serves a seasonally changing menu rooted in French tradition, highlighting both bistro classics and contemporary dishes inspired by Chef Daniel’s family meals in Lyon, executed with finesse by chef de cuisine and longtime Boulud protegé Sylvain Assié. The newly redesigned dining room by London-based designer Martin Brudnizki — acclaimed as one of the world’s top restaurant designers known for bringing a lived-in luxury to his projects — is comfortable and sophisticated with luxurious yet understated details like Hermès wallpaper, Ralph Lauren sconces, retro walnut panelling, mod Jaguar green and tan leather banquets and rich oxblood red 1950s-style chairs, which evoke a playfulness as well as elegance to the space, inviting guests to sit back and surrender to Daniel and Sylvain's rustic yet meticulously executed bistro classics.

Chef de Cuisine Sylvain Assié

The heart of the menu is traditionally French, offering dishes that both Chef Boulud and Chef Assié grew up with in the countryside of France, such as Quenelle de Brochet, northern pike with a cognac Nova Scotia lobster sauce; Boudin Blanc, truffled white sausage, caramelized onions, apple and mashed potatoes; Crispy skinned Confit de Canard, slow-cooked périgord style with sautéed potato and parsley salad; Frisée Lyonnaise with chicken livers, poached egg, lardons and sourdough croutons; and a selection of handsome Hand-Cut Tartares. Seafood, including a Plateau de Fruits de Mer featuring oysters, shrimp, clams, mussels and tuna tartare, is sourced from Canada's two coasts whenever possible and will rotate on the menu according to the season. Rotisserie is a star of the menu with slow-roasted chicken, lobster and potatoes cooked over the open flames of the restaurants prized Rotisol, made by the oldest rotisserie factory in France. Equally impressive is Café Boulud's emphasis on charcuterie with a program led by master charcutier Gilles Verot, with a selection of housemade terrines and pâtés. Desserts, such as the show-stopping Soufflé Grand Marnier with orange crème anglaise and the equally indulgent Dark Chocolate Profiteroles, are a sweet finalé to a delightful evening. “This menu is without a doubt very French in its that I like to eat and...that people will want to come back to enjoy again and again.”

Rotisserie cooked Poulet à la Broche served with potatoes and watercress salad

Roasted Chicken being basted with a bound brush of fresh rosemary, which makes it "à la broch"

Poulet à la Broche served table side in an attractive copper roasting pan with roasted potatoes and garnished with fresh peppery watercress

Sautéed Mushrooms and Supergreens Spinach are served in small copper pans,
as side dishes to the Poulet à la Broche

Plateau de Fruits de Mer comes with oysters, shrimp, clams, mussels and tuna tartare

A dozen PEI oysters served with fresh lemon and mignonette sauce

Charcuterie Board with house-made pickles and toasted sourdough

Creamy Soupe de Champignon garnished with croûtons and chives, one of three appetizers offered on the 2016 Winterlicious menu

Gigot d'Agneau with eggplant, grains, parsley salad and spiced yogurt, 
an entrée on the Winterlicious menu

Berries Sundae with vanilla crumble, berry compote, raspberry sorbet and yoghurt ice cream honey tile, a lovely light and fruity dessert on the Winterlicious menu

Grapefruit Givre with sesame halva, rose loukoum and grapefruit sorbet

Sylvain Assié pours warm dark chocolate sauce tableside, 
melting the chocolate dome to unveil the profiteroles hiding beneath

Tarte Fine aux Pommes with honey and Tahitian vanilla ice cream

Soufflé Grand Marnier with orange crème anglaise

Daniel Boulud's Gargantuan Gougères
Makes about 30
Recipe courtesy of Bar Boulud

1 cup milk
1 cup water
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp Piment d’Espelette
4 large eggs
2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
Fleur de sel and cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, combine the milk with the water, butter and salt; bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the flour all at once with the Piment d'Espelette and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the flour is thoroughly incorporated. Reduce the heat to low, return the saucepan to the burner and cook the gougère dough, stirring constantly, until the dough pulls away from the side of the pan, about 3 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until the dough cools slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring briskly between additions to thoroughly incorporate each egg.
Drop 3-tablespoon mounds of dough onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Top each round with 1 tablespoon of cheese; sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper.

Bake the gougères for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° and bake for 30 minutes longer, switching the baking sheets halfway through, until the gougères are puffed and browned. Turn off the oven, propping the door ajar with a wooden spoon. Let the gougères rest in the oven for about 30 minutes longer, until crisp on the outside but still steamy within. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Poulet à la Crème
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Daniel Boulud

1 4-lb chicken, split in 4 or 8 pieces, with bones in
4 tbsp butter
2 medium onions, cut into 8 wedges each
25 button mushrooms, cleaned
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 bunch chives
Salt and ground white pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic
5 peppercorns, crushed
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
3 stems each of parsley, chervil, and tarragon, leaves reserved

Generously season chicken pieces on all sides with salt and pepper, then tie sachet ingredients into a cheesecloth square and set aside. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven on medium-high and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter is melted, add the chicken and lightly brown on all sides. Add onion with another 2 tablespoons of butter to the pot and cook on medium-low heat for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring. Sprinkle flour evenly over chicken, mushrooms, and onions, and cook, stirring until flour is dissolved and lightly colored, about 4 minutes.

Add wine to the pot, stir well, and simmer until liquid reduces by half. Add chicken stock and sachet, stir well, cover, and simmer lightly for 15 minutes. Remove and reserve the breasts in a warm spot and let the legs and thighs cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove sachet and remaining chicken, and check sauce’s consistency — it should lightly coat the back of a spoon; reduce if necessary. Add cream, bring to a boil, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pot, reserving the onions and mushrooms. Return mushrooms, onion, and all of chicken to the sauce to heat all ingredients through. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley, chervil, tarragon, and chives. Check seasoning, and serve with a warm rice pilau.

Daniel Boulud's Creamed Spinach
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Daniel Boulud

6 tightly packed cups fresh spinach, about 6 ounces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the spinach and blanch until bright green, 30 seconds. Transfer the spinach to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain, squeezing out the excess water. In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Pour the cream into a food processor and add one-third of the spinach. Process to a smooth purée, then scrape into the saucepan. Add the remaining spinach and bring to a simmer, stirring. Stir in the butter, season with salt and pepper and serve.

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