Lunch at Cafe Boulud in Manhattan

If you should find yourself near 76th and Madison (a block above the Whitney) around lunchtime, there is only one reasonable thing to do. That’s to drop in at Cafe Boulud (as annoying a website as I’ve ever encountered) for a top-drawer French meal for $24.  Now you may have heard that NY restaurants were taming down their prices in response to the financial crisis, but you probably didn’t think that someone like Daniel Boulud would have to react so decisively.  Not only can you have a splendid 3-course meal for $24, you can have a bottle of wine for the same $24.  Here’s the prix fixe menu:

So, what does it look like when it gets to the table?  Here’s the amuse bouche (the 4th course?), a slice of fresh date with something-or-other plus a sorrel leaf on top (and a cayenne dusted toasted almond on the side):

Here’s the duck terrine entrée (the French version of appetizer) which was so appealing that we both ordered it:

Then we had jointly selected (Deb and I always agree on our order because each eats half of every dish) as plats the hanger steak on celery root purée with Tuscan chard and cannelini beans.  The celery root purée has since become a staple of our what-to-have-with-the-steak repertoire:

Along with a very French version of potato gnocchi with spring vegetables:

As expected, the desserts were standard issue high-end (not a thrill for us): a carrot cake (note the terrific carrot chip garnish):

and a chocolate brownie:

The pièce de résistance, however, was the basket of miniature madeleines in place of petits fours:

Finally, the most  pleasant dénouement imaginable:

Needless to say, we’ll be back on every trip down.