A Sweet Sixteen for Daniel Boulud

by Kelly Laffey Photographed by Thomas Schauer and D. Krieger
Friday, October 20, 2017

Celebrated French chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud has been in New York for over three decades, but he’s just now celebrating his Sweet Sixteen.

Opened in 2001, DB Bistro Moderne became Boulud’s third New York City-based restaurant, after he opened Daniel and Café Boulud. DB Bistro Moderne will celebrate the milestone anniversary with a special Fall Classics menu. Available through November 5 as an addition to the traditional menu, the Fall Classics will have rotating specialty dishes, with each week featuring an entrée and dessert that has come to define DB Bistro Moderne.

“I wanted to bring back some classic dishes,” says Boulud of the menu. This week features quenelles à la cuillere, a specialty of Lyon, France, Boulud’s hometown; and poire belle hélène, a poached pear dessert.

In a city where restaurant openings and closings are reported with the fervor of breaking news, Boulud has relied on a simple recipe of good ingredients, careful preparation and customer loyalty to continue to remain relevant. “We earn loyalty through our service, and we’ll never let that change,” says Boulud. “I’ve never been a trendy chef,” he continues, referring to how ingredients and cuisines constantly waver in popularity. “I owe this success to the customers and the people who understand and appreciate what it takes [to prepare French food well].”

Typically, the menu changes every season, and “within the season, there are at least three or four changes,” says Boulud. Among the hallmarks of DB bistro have been escargot and, of course, the DB Burger.

“I always loved burgers, and I’ve always wanted to elevate the burger to a chef’s level,” says Boulud. “The burger isn’t very popular in France, but I had been in America for so many years, and I wanted to create a burger that had an element of French cuisine and an element of an American classic.”

The burger is sirloin filled with braised short ribs, foie gras and black truffle, served on a parmesan bun. “I knew it was going to be popular, because the burger is the most popular thing in America; and the braised short rib with red wine was the most popular dish we had on the menu at Daniel.”

An immediate hit, people were keen to pair the French take on the American invention with a French vintage. “I had a customer who would take the train to New York from Baltimore just to have a DB Burger and a bottle of wine. He’d spend $1,200 and go home,” Boulud says.

And so, the gourmet burger craze was born. 

While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Boulud has always enjoyed supporting the community, and young culinary talent. “New York takes for granted that there are a lot of great restaurants and great cooks, but it’s important to remember [how they got here] and the importance of training the next generation.” Among his mentees is DB Bistro executive chef Christopher Stam, who joined the team earlier this year and helped to craft the Sweet Sixteen menu. Boulud is also on the board of Citymeals on Wheels, organizing an annual fundraiser at Daniel.

Next up on the Anniversary menu is choucroute royale and chocolate pot de crème, available from October 23-29; and boeuf bourguignon and apple tarte tatin, available from October 30 through November 5.

Then, it’s back to the classic DB Bistro French menu. Which, if history is any indication, looks be around for at least another 16 years.

DB Bistro Moderne is located at 55 West 44th Street, New York. For additional information, visit dbbistro.com.


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