Daniel Boulud’s New Dining Experience Offers a Culinary Passport to the South of France
To celebrate the return of indoor dining in New York City, the toque’s Michelin-starred restaurant has dynamically redesigned its menu and interior
With summer trips canceled and international travel still murky, New Yorkers now have the chance to escape to France at Daniel Boulud’s newest culinary experience—no jacket (or flight) required. The Michelin-starred chef’s flagship restaurant, Daniel, has been temporarily converted into Boulud Sur Mer, where guests can enjoy a meticulously composed meal, but in a fresh, relaxed atmosphere.
“I don’t think New York City is ready for Restaurant Daniel to return,” the chef tells Galerie on his decision to celebrate the reopening of indoor dining with this new concept, planned to be open through November. “I wanted to create a casual, party-like atmosphere that is both approachable and at a lower price point for guests.”
For Boulud Sur Mer (a play on the small coastal village of Beaulieu Sur Mer between Nice and Monaco), Boulud tapped longtime collaborator, designer, and architect Stephanie Goto, who worked with ShowMotion set builders to execute her vision. “We are not trying to refabricate the South of France, but rather we are providing elements that may make you recall being in a garden, beach, or within nature,” explains Goto, who first worked with Boulud on his residence above Daniel. After closely following the government announcements regarding the reopening of public spaces during the pandemic, the duo had about two weeks from sketch to installation.
“We all miss dining out and that sensory connection with friends and food”Stephanie Goto
“We all miss dining out and that sensory connection with friends and food,” Goto adds. While temperature checks, masks, and QR-code menus serve as somewhat unsettling, yet imperative reminders of the time, Boulud and Goto seek to provide diners with not only a delectable meal, but also a temporary retreat from it all. “The restaurant is thought of as a place where people celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions, and this was an opportunity to broaden that welcome mat,” says Goto. “You can take your jacket off and, in a way, be barefoot, at Daniel.”
Upon entering the restaurant, guests will pass through graduated blue screens made of Dedar fabric that evoke the sea and sky, immediately transporting them from the city streets and into a serene new world. This mental palate cleanser gives way to the main dining room, staged as a “Salon Vert.” Enveloped in Hermès Feuillage wallpaper, the space centers around a hanging installation that Goto calls “an otherworldly oculus” and “a vortex of energy.” Made with floral designer ODE and Bastille, the imposing, orb-like structure is comprised of lush palm fronds and vegetation, complemented by other design details like the leafy menu covers.
Adding to the air of nonchalance, traditional fine dining chairs have been swapped for beach-ready ones made of recycled plastic, and waiters are clad in blue and white striped Comme des Garçons PLAY T-shirts (the first restaurant collaboration for the fashion brand), cementing the nautical atmosphere. For diners still hesitant to eat indoors, there will soon be private bungalows outside the restaurant perfect for small parties to enjoy a meal.
Indoor guests will be treated to a $123 three-course prix-fixe menu, while outdoor diners may order à la carte. Having worked in Cannes as a young chef, Boulud is reviving Provençal-inspired dishes, such as bouillabaisse, vegetable soupe au pistou, and orange chocolate tart with pine nuts and ice cream, with innovative offerings like a Lavazza Fashioned, an espresso cocktail with whiskey, maple syrup, and orange bitters.
While Boulud Sur Mer was created to whisk diners away, or possibly back in time, the chef is quick to remind Americans of the deeper issues at hand. “The reality is that 25 percent capacity isn’t sustainable for any business,” the chef says. “We’re hopeful that in the coming months, especially as the weather cools, we will be able to open 100 percent capacity indoors with strict safety protocols in place in time for the holiday season.
Boulud worked tirelessly during the pandemic to re-employ staff members and turn his test kitchen into a commissary, creating 2,000 meals a day for frontline workers, the elderly, and more. “What 25 percent reinforces is the urgent need for additional stimulus and support from the government—local, state and federal—to ensure businesses can remain open and people can keep their jobs.”
Boulud Sur Mer will be open seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., with reservations available exclusively on Resy.