Thursday, February 22, 2018

Café Boulud in Yorkville: French Brasserie Classics

Michelin-star chef Daniel Boulud’s French Brasserie 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 such as J Sheekey, Le Caprice and The Ivy in London — 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.

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. Verot, originally from the Loire Valley and a third-generation Gallic charcutier, is the legend behind the charcuterie at Boulud's restaurants from London to New York, Boston and Toronto. There are also fabulous 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.”

Café Boulud tablesetting with dish towel-style napkins

Fabulous fresh baked bread from Marc Thuet

Whipped artichoke spread

Our server arriving with our gorgeous Domaine Virginie Thunevin 2015 Bordeaux 

Gilles Verot Charcuterie Board with chef’s selection of house-made cured meats, terrines, pickles
and toasted sourdough, including pâté du campaign, pâté du canard, fromage de tête, 
and pâté Grandmère 

Master charcutier Gilles Verot and owner of Maison Verot in Paris

Gilles Verot pot au feu à la moutarde douce

Confit du Canard with slow cooked cured duck leg, apricot
spinach, turnip and parsley salad

Poulet à la Broche: chicken rotisserie with potatoes and watercress salad

Fresh rosemary is used to brush duck fat on the chicken which makes the dish "à la broche"

Boudin Blanc: truffled white pork sausage, caramelized onions, apple and mashed potato

Birthday madeleines for our two birthday "boys"

Daniel Boulud

Chilled Spring Pea Soup
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of chef Daniel Boulud

8 slices of bacon 
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced 
1 onion, thinly sliced 
1 leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced 
5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth 
Two 4-inch rosemary sprigs 
Salt and freshly ground white pepper 
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, thinly sliced 
Two 10-ounce boxes frozen baby peas 
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves 
1 cup heavy cream 
1 garlic clove, minced

In a medium soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate. Pour off the fat in the pot.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the celery, onion and leek and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock, 4 slices of the cooked bacon, 1 rosemary sprig and a pinch each of salt and white pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the bacon and rosemary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the sugar snaps and cook for 3 minutes. Add the frozen baby peas and the parsley and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute; drain. Add the sugar snaps, baby peas and parsley to the blender and puree until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of the broth to loosen the mixture. Transfer the soup and the remaining broth to a large bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water to cool.
In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream, garlic and remaining rosemary sprig to a boil. Simmer over low heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Strain the garlic cream into a bowl and let cool.
Ladle the chilled pea soup into bowls and drizzle with the garlic cream. Crumble the remaining 4 slices of bacon into each bowl and serve. Note: The soup and cream can be refrigerated separately for up to 2 days.

Daniel Boulud Madeleines
Makes 6 dozen mini madeleines
Recipe courtesy of chef Daniel Boulud

3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp honey
1 tsp packed light brown sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and warm
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, eggs, honey, brown sugar, and lemon zest. Add the our mixture and combine. Stir in the melted butter until incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the batter for 1 hour or overnight. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Liberally spray a nonstick 24-mini or 12-standard madeleine mold with cooking spray. Scrape the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe the molds two-thirds full, using about 1 tsp. of batter for each mini mold and 2 tablespoons of batter for each standard mold. For mini madeleines, bake until their centers rise and the edges are golden brown, about 4 minutes, rotating the mold halfway through the baking. Bake the standard madeleines for 5 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°F, rotate the mold, and continue baking until the centers rise and the edges are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and tap the mold gently against a counter to release the madeleines. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm. Repeat to make additional batches.

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