Dining trends come and go. Recent years have brought us food trucks, beer gardens, local organic ingredients. For whatever reason, the latest trend seems to be superstar chefs and their market & food halls. Combining retail and dining spaces, food is served cafeteria style, and patrons can purchase unique products from the chef’s home region. Everything’s marked up accordingly, after all celebrity reputation doesn’t come cheap.
Leading this innovation is Eataly, the brainchild of Mario Batali which is drawing huge crowds daily at Madison Square Park. Therefore when I heard that Daniel Boulud plans to do for French cuisine what Eataly is to Italian, I was extremely excited and made plans to visit, plus enjoy a meal at Boulud Sud, his new restaurant next door.
Most people who visit Eataly are impressed by the massive size of the eatery. I suspect most people who see Épicerie Boulud will be shocked by how small it is. Located on the corner connecting Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud, it’s no bigger than your average corner deli. Food is served from various stations on the sides of the room, while the center has racks selling sweets, spices, dried goods, and Boulud cookbooks.
Starting from the left side, you have the raw bar serving fresh oysters, draft beer, and jamón ibérico. You can either enjoy the food at the bar, or have the staff bring the food to the outdoor tables.
From there, the adjacent wall serves breads, cheeses, sandwiches, pastries, and finally coffees and other drinks. With LCD TVs hanging overhead to show customers what is served at that station. It’s truly a joy for food lovers to find all types of cravings behind a single glass counter.
On the very right side, with a window that dispenses to pedestrians, is a ice cream station.
The service at Épicerie Boulud was professional and upbeat, a trademark of the Dinex Group. With a hidden door leading to Boulud Sud, I constantly spotted managers coming by to check on the marketplace. I had a wonderful chat with the chef at the oyster station, who recommended many wonderful dishes at Boulud Sud.
Épicerie Boulud is a wonderful addition to the Upper West Side, and a fantastic destination for food lovers of all sorts. It will not match the grandeur of Eataly, but I do not believe that was ever a part of Chef Boulud’s plans. This is a charming market that’s fun, serves great small bites, and connects customers to Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud.
1900 Broadway at 64th Street
New York, NY 10023