The newly updated Café Boulud at Four Seasons Hotel opened just in time for this year’s TIFF. And I was lucky to take part in one of the first dining experiences at the new Boulud with the one and only world-famous Chef Daniel Boulud in attendance, on September 16, 2015.
The rejuvenation of this new Café Boulud aims to deliver “soulful French cuisine in a lively brasserie atmosphere”. So when you walk in to the new Café Boulud, you immediately notice the warm, welcoming new interior designed by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio.
The ribbed banquet seats are upholstered in interesting palettes of jaguar green, tan leather, and tweed detailing for texture. The walls make use of mirrors, double pendant lighting and even blue herringbone Hermes wallpaper, the whole concept draws inspiration from mid-century designer, Angelo Lelli.
An intimate bar area draws your attention, constructed in wood panels painted in a high gloss lacquer and topped with Calacatta marble featuring a bronze and glass pantry, and eight oxblood leather bar stools.
With the new Boulud comes a new menu created by Chef Daniel Boulud himself in collaboration with Chef de Cuisine Sylvain Assié inspired by their own family meals at home in France.
And what a treat it was.
To tantalize our appetites, first came the canapés including anchovy and red pepper (anchois & poivrons rouges), dry sausage (saucisson sec) and my personal favourite, cod croquettes with tender flaky bits. A cocktail cart served bubbly as well as gin and Jack Rudy tonic cocktails garnished with torched rosemary giving off a nice aromatic touch.
Greetings us at the table were tasty bites including calmari, kale, and escargot. I always love escargot and you can bet it didn’t disappoint here served with a rich sauce of garlic, parsley butter and mushrooms.
The popular Café Boulud charcuterie board still remains on the menu with master Charcutier Gilles Verot, and introduces a selection of housemade terrines and pâtés to go alongside a variety of fine meats including pork, chicken, goose, duck and rabbit. Check for weekday specials.
Rotisserie is definitely one of the main standouts on the new menu, evident in the family-style poulet à la broche, lamb and lobster. There’s even rotisserie pineapple for dessert. For the new Boulud, a top-of-the-line rotisserie, Rotisol, was purchased from one of the largest and oldest rotisserie factories in France. With that acquisition, now Café Boulud boasts being the only one of its kind in downtown Toronto with both vertical and horizontal spits allowing for simultaneous cooking of meat, poultry, fish and vegetables.
The lobster was cooked to perfection, thoroughly hot and easy to get out of the shell.
French desserts are always a highlight, obviously and Boulud didn’t disappoint with some delectably entertaining sweets. Everyone who knows about it, raves about the profiteroles with vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate sauce and, candied pecan. With the presentation of that melting chocolate shell… how could you not?
“This menu is without a doubt very French in its DNA. But we are also in Canada, and we celebrate its ingredients in our dishes. I’m French, but I’m not the most traditional French chef. I have traveled, and worked with many great international chefs, and so that influence has naturally worked its way into my food,” said Chef Daniel Boulud. “There’s a delicately spicy, aromatic Bouillion Pho from Vietnam and the Sea Bass Catalane made with romesco sauce that is a nod to Spain. This is the food that I like to eat, and I hope that Sylvain and I have created a menu that people want to come back to enjoy again and again.”
Definitely visit Cafe Boulud for some after-work charcuterie, and celebrate special occasions with family style dining over rotisserie chicken or lobster.
The new Café Boulud is open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Reservations can be made at cafeboulud.com or by calling 416.963.6000.
Photos by Nick Lee