Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud brings a bygone era of classic French restaurants into the 21st century with the Pavilion’s NYC menu
On the second floor of the new ultra-tall One Vanderbilt skyscraper, Daniel Boulud reconnects with the past with Le Pavillon, named after Henri Soulé’s iconic mid-century Manhattan landmark, bringing in a bygone era of classic French restaurants in the 21st century. But of course things are different now.
When I was a teenager, my father, who had lived in France, didn’t like French restaurants in New York. He found them pretentious and stuffy. I remember a butler asking me if I wanted ketchup with my steak. I looked up and said, “Béarnaise should do the trick.”
Today, Le Pavillon by Daniel Boulud pays homage to French cuisine by lightening classic Gallic dishes and introducing a contemporary spirit. It’s like Americanizing the Statue of Liberty of French origin.
The 11,000 square foot glass dining room blends nature and architecture, with lush greenery and oversized living trees under soaring ceilings. A gigantic blown glass chandelier by Andy Paiko hangs above a spectacular bar that overlooks the new plaza, with views of Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building.
The $135 three-course prix fixe menu features vegetable and seafood cuisine. As a starter, from the “sea,” I ordered Oyster Vanderbilt, oysters from John’s River
au gratin in a sort of dreamy clam chowder, topped with a crunch of hazelnuts and parsley. Another opener, from “earth”, was chestnut egg, a poached egg from the Heermance farm in an emulsion of Jerusalem artichoke, enhanced with grated black truffles and, again, toasted hazelnuts for texture. I couldn’t resist chicken Champagne, a perfectly lacquered roast chicken breast bathed in a light, unconventional sauce served with a vol-au-vent of spring vegetables. black poppya cube of milk chocolate bavarian with poppyseed shortbread on a pool of gianduja ganache, made for a dream dessert.