Bar Boulud Boston opened in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Back Bay in October 2014. The decor is quite different from the previous restaurant and made me think of a wine cellar or wine barrel with the oak coloring and arched ceilings. The bar area has also expanded and is far more comfortable than Mbar.
After reading the Boston Globe’s disappointing review, 2 stars out of 4, I didn’t know quite what to expect but after dining there I think the review was unnecessarily harsh. However, I do agree that Boston’s iteration of Boulud doesn’t live up to the reputation or name. It wasn’t as if I didn’t like my food – quite the contrary, it was very good – it just wasn’t the amazing experience I was expecting.
However, for those eager to try a new high end French restaurant, Bar Boulud should certainly be on your radar. The menu is comprised of House Pates ranging from $14-$23; Fruits De Mer, Soup and Salads which range significantly in price from $12 – $38; Main plates are divided into Pasta, Fish and Meat ranging in price from $17 – $37; and two burgers that seem somewhat out of place unless you might be in the bar are on the dinner menu $17 and $19 respectively.
My colleagues ordered Foie Gras, Escargots and Oysters. I ordered the Salade Provencal ($15) and while it may seem quite basic, the presentation was beautiful and I really enjoyed the crisp greens, cheese, croutons and anchovy vinaigrette. The table seemed to approve of their choices and when the plates were removed to make space for our main dishes there were only crumbs remaining.
It was a cold, blustery night when we visited Bar Boulud so I looked to one of the menu’s heartier options and settled on the Coq au Vin for $29. The chicken was rich and flavorful with the red wine, and I used the handmade pasta to absorb and scoop much of that sauce. I love this meal in the winter and while it wasn’t the best I’d ever had, it was good enough that I would encourage others to try it. The aroma of the plate with the chicken, herbs and wine was intoxicating. I suppose it is a testament to my dinner that I was so distracted by the coq au vin that I failed to snap photos of what my colleagues’ ordered.
While I’d recommend Bar Boulud to anyone interested in trying it, the service was at times slow and sloppy (repeatedly spilling water). Nothing that happened was a deal breaker but nothing captured my imagination or lived up to the hype either. Should you go, let me know your thoughts.
Bar Boulud Boston is at 776 Boylston Street (617) 535-8800