Café Boulud is positioned proudly in the main courtyard of the Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach. The stunning tropical grounds perfectly frame the lavish venue, with exotic foliage and gentle sea breeze. Al fresco dining is a must, but the internal space is just as impressive.
Headed up by Chef Daniel Boulud, the restaurant enjoys international acclaim. Having evolved from the revered New York venue, the Palm Beach location holds its own – regardless of the revered reputation the original site has garnered over the past 20 years.
After making your way through the tropical gardens, you’re presented with a beautifully appointed dining room. The lavish furnishings are highlighted by the shiny seashell ceiling decor and the impressive illuminated stone bar. We choose to sit outside, and a fountain side table calls out to us.
Guests are presented with a varied seasonal menu. Locally sourced produce and the finest ingredients are carefully selected to make up the modern French-American cuisine. Created by Chef Boulud and Executive Chef Dieter Samijn, the menu parallels that of Café Boulud New York, but with a touch of South Florida flavour.
There’s an emphasis on seafood and produce of the region, culminating in classic French dishes modernised to suit the cosmopolitan palate of Palm beach. Stand out dishes include Local Spiced Mahi with Key West Shrimp and Curry Leaf, Pan Seared Scallops with Brussels sprouts and miso jus, as well as the much loved Dover Sole Meuniere, which is filleted table side.
With a varied a la carte menu, the choice is broad, but without being overwhelming. We naturally opted for the wild caught jumbo shrimp with handmade cocktail sauce, and Maine lobster. Known for the seafood, Boulud’s reputation is certainly well founded. Each dish was delightfully fresh and beautifully presented.
The Maine lobster was plucked fresh from the cold Atlantic sea – which makes for a much more tender meat – and the difference between this and warm water lobster is immediately clear. It’s not salty, or chewy, and is very generously portioned. The pronounced flavours are delightfully emphasised by the zesty citrus accoutrements.
For an even more exquisite experience, the antonius oscietra gold caviar, served with the traditional accompaniments is sure to impress. Pair the dish with a vintage Dom Pérignon for a refreshing indulgence.
Keeping with the surf and turf theme, we chose the steak and Linz Heritage beef tenderloin, served with potato confit, carrot and artichoke sauce bordelaise, and the speciality dish – Daniel’s “bass en paupiette” which is a firm favourite amongst the locals.
The steak was cooked to perfection as you would expect. But the juicy, rich fillet encompassed the perfect balance of tenderness and flavour – which is no mean feat. The knife slices through the generously thick cut like butter, and the accompanying artichoke sauce bordelaise elevated the palate to a new level.
The sea bass is Chef Boulud’s signature dish. A classic plate which comprises of just four ingredients. And whilst the main elements stay the same, recipe is constantly evolving. Daniel shares with us his secret formula:
“The art of any great chef’s classic dish that we remember is that it is composed of fairly simple elements. In this recipe, the trick is in the special technique of overlapping translucent sheets of potato, which requires the large Idaho variety sliced very thinly—either with a turning slicer or mandoline—to wrap around the sea bass. By the time you roast the potatoes crispy on all sides, the fish is perfectly cooked. I also add a pomme purée to offer a contrasting texture of potato. It’s my interpretation of fish and chips—more elegant with a real Lyonnais slant.”
Other highly recommended options include the American red snapper, served with braised fennel and kalamata olive, finished with watermelon which gives a surprising fruity finish. For a more hearty feast, the roasted lamb rack is rich, gamey and pastoral. The handmade jus brings a new dimension to the flavour.
A true fine dining experience wouldn’t be complete without the dessert. And whilst we enjoyed our delightful selection of wine, and took our time to savour each dish, we were oblivious to the time. Regardless of our tardiness, the accommodating staff were more than happy to make sure we didn’t miss out on the end-of-evening treats.
Seemingly hand crafted by artisanal savants, we can see what all the fuss is about. Beautifully presented, it almost seemed a shame to dismantle them. The tarte à lan mangue is a delightful, zesty and fresh passion fruit sorbet. It’s topped with exotic curd and mango chutney. The fresh fruity flavours and impossibly smooth sorbet gives this playful dish a light finish.
For a more rich, indulgent treat, the warm upside down Guanaja chocolate cake really hit the spot. Served with pistachio ice-cream to take the bite off the dark chocolate notes. The combined textures of the smooth ice-cream, fluffy cake and crunchy flakes make for a wonderful treat for the senses.
A visit to Café Boulud is a must for anyone gracing the shores of central Palm Beach. It’s even worth the trip for out of town-ers, as this destination restaurant delivers on every level.
The service was extremely good, and adds to the special occasion feeling. The enthusiastic staff are on hand to tend to your every need, and have encyclopaedic knowledge of each dish.
We can’t recommend Chef Boulud’s venue enough. And the temptation to keep this gem a secret is almost as overwhelming as the urge to tell every single person you meet. Combine your visit with a stay at the Brazilian Court Hotel for the ultimate destination dining experience.