On Tuesday night, assistant editor Foster Kamer and I had one for the books, the blogs, etc. After interviewing famed New York-based chef Daniel Boulud, we were invited for an evening of decadent sampling at Boulud’s newest LES resto, DBGB. Unlike Boulud’s pre-established (and more famous) kitchens in the city (Daniel, Bar Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne), DBGB’s a bustling, loud affair, the kind you can just stumble in from off of the Bowery, and throw yourself into the bar room of. Yes: it’s the Pastis of the East Village. Deal with it.
We were seated in the main dining room, flanked with wood shelves of ingredients and used dishes of Boulud’s contemporaries, as Radiohead and The Cure blasted above us. Soon after, Boulud blasted us away with the full comp.
Starters: Asparagus with a fried poached farm-egg and duck prosciutto went quicker than any of the others. Escargots in a persillade custard, duo of mackerel, veal tongue, beef bone marrow, spicy crab cake and crispy tripe, didn’t do too bad themselves.
Round Two: Meat. Our awesome waitress rolled out their specialty: sausages. We readied the Lipitor. We tried the Espagnole (spicy chorizo), the DBGB Dog (stole my love from Gray’s Papaya), Vermont (stuffed with cheddar), Polonaise (with a sweet twist), Boudin Basque (blood sausage over mashed ‘taters), and the Viennoise (with delectable sauerkraut). After washing it all down with some microbrews (also: ingeniously picked by a stellar waitress, but we’re prejudiced), Mr. Boulud himself greeted us and discussed iPhones and bouncing from kitchen to kitchen.
Dessert: He pulled our menus from us, and laughed when we tried to order. It was among the more divine encounters I’ve ever experienced. Like the hand of a culinary god pushing you back into a pew, telling you to take your shoes off. Our final course started with the Omelette Norvegienne (flambéed at the table). Thinking that was the end of it, we were pretty content — until we saw the procession of desserts marching towards our table, among which were: three ice cream sundaes (coffee-caramel, cassis beer-yogurt, golden plum-pistachio), tarte au fraise with mascarpone and berry ginger ice cream, Crepe Farcie with roasted cherries, and the Gateau Russe au Framboise with pistachio mousse.
Upon leaving, Mr. Boulud handed us DBGB mugs right off the wall (the maitre d’ looked un petit peu shocked), and invited us back. Usually, knowing our place as mere journalists, we’d say thanks and go on our merry little way, never to return. That’s how the typical press meal goes. Write it up, go away. And in most cases, it’d be unfair to do a review of the food, as it was, above a bunch of other reasons, comped.
Not here. Not with this food, service, atmosphere. Foster had been once and gave his endorsement to a burger with Daisy May BBQ on it (cutely titled ‘The Piggy’). It’s the kind of thing that sounds patently ridiculous: an uber-burger entry into the Meat Madness of New York, designed by a chef with one of the few four star restaurants in the city who decided to stake a place out on the Bowery and over-flavoring an already tasty burger. It should, for all intents and purposes, be a joke.
If it is intended as a joke, it’s one with a great punchline. Again, no review, but we will say that we enjoyed the hell out of ourselves. Wouldn’t you?
They asked us, as we dipped out the front door, if we’d be back, as paying customers. Grinning like idiots, coffee cups in hand, we couldn’t help but laugh. Yeah. We think we’ll be back.