Ghost of Meals Eaten Past: Lunch at Cafe Boulud, West Palm Beach

And then there’s the lunch I had with mom last Wednesday at Cafe Boulud in West Palm Beach…

Culturally, West Palm Beach can be hilarious, if a bit disturbing. Take this outfit, for example:

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Hilarious, yes. And a bit disturbing, no? That’s West Palm Beach. (I snapped that picture from our table and I’m quite proud of it. I even used Photoshop just now to cut out the man’s face, in case he’s a site reader. If you are a site reader, orange looks great on you.)

Before we get to the food, there’s other hilarious and disturbing phenomena. For example, these two ladies sat at a table with their two giant poodles. They let the poodles roam around the restaurant, as you can see here:

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Hilarious? Maybe. Disturbing? Possibly.

But that’s not the end of it. Here’s the end of it: these two ladies ordered food for their dogs from the kitchen. Yes, the KITCHEN at Cafe Boulud cooked gourmet dog food for these rich ladies’ dogs. You can see it being set down here:

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To quote my law school days, “Res Ipsa Loquitur.” (The thing speaks for itself.)

And now for the food. Table settings, please:

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The food at Cafe Boulud is remarkable. It’s sophisticated and earthy—two qualities you rarely see in Florida cooking. For example, take this cold fennel soup:

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It was fresh and refreshing and seasonal and captured the mood of the day perfectly. (It was overcast and still a bit chilly.)

That soup was ordered by me, mom ordered pate and quickly regretted it because it scared her. Would this scare you?

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A few years ago, it would have scared me too. But I traded with mom–gave her my soup–and ate the pate cautiously.

WOW.

What a great fusion of flavors. You take bits of brioche toast, put grainy mustard on it (which you can see on the plate) and then cut some pate on to it. The pate had pistachios in at and bacon wrapped around it and tasted rich and savory and utterly decadent. (Yes, I just wrote “utterly decadent”–you can smack me now.) But it was insanely terrific: best thing I ate in Florida the whole week (with the exception of what I cooked.)

And then the entrees (this was a fixed price lunch, by the way, we don’t normally order this much food): (Actually, yes we do):

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This was sea bass prepared elegantly. I enjoyed it, but it’s not something that will haunt my dreams. (Imagine if sea bass DID haunt your dreams? Freud would say you were craving a return to the womb. Or something like that.)

But then dessert. Ah, dessert. I love dessert. And I LOVED the dessert I had at Cafe Boulud:

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I forget the exact details, but it was yuzu (which I’ve never had) soup and sorbet with chopped pineapple and it was UH UH UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Sorry, I just had an orgasm remembering it. It was THAT good. (And actually it taught me a valuable lesson about food: the pineapple (I think that was pineapple beneath the sorbet) was all uniformly chopped and arranged and that made all the difference. In other words, the texture component matters as much as the flavor component.)

Mom had bread pudding:

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I tried it. It was good. But it was no yuzu.

And that, my friends, was lunch at Cafe Boulud. If you have poodles and an orange sweater set and you live in West Palm Beach, now you know where to eat…

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