Bar Boulud is already the most-talked-about restaurant opening in Boston, and there isn’t even a menu set. Chef Daniel Boulud‘s newest establishment is slated to open at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Boston sometime this fall, according to the hotel, yet the buzz has already hit Beantown. The new space — which sits in the same location as the former Asana and MBar — is actually still boarded up with only the promise of a new eatery coming soon.
Luckily, Forbes Travel Guide got an exclusive sneak peek inside. Aaron Chambers, the chef de cuisine for the soon-to-open restaurant, gave us a quick spin around the kitchen, and even made a signature dish that will be on the opening-day menu.
“The menu will be French-inspired, but with a local feel,” Chambers says. He plans to wrap in many New England favorites — like fresh seafood, seasonal vegetables and fruits — and buy as much from local producers and organic farms as possible.
An English chef from Yorkshire, Chambers was trained in the French culinary tradition. He’s held the sous chef position at Café Boulud New York, and was executive chef of Boulud Sud, the Mediterranean restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Chambers details that he and Boulud are still putting the final touches on the Boston menu, but it will be vastly different from what was available at Asana. The aesthetic will also change this time around. While the former address embraced more of a fine-dining attitude, Bar Boulud will take a more casual approach, both in food and feel.
“I like to think of it as ‘approachable’ and ‘everyday dining,'” Chambers says of the space that was conceived by famed interior designer Adam D. Tihany.
The menu’s main focus will be its charcuterie section. Featuring sliced and cured meats, various cheeses and pâtés, this tasty roster promises to be one of the robust in the city (keep your eyes peeled for the restaurant’s live slicing station). There will also be hot and cold appetizers, main dishes and desserts. Fresh oysters, housemade pasta and a few signature dishes from the New York and London outposts will also be featured. During our visit, Chambers whipped up one of the New England-specific entrées: handmade chitarra pasta with local Wellfleet clams, bottarga (cured fish), fennel and chili-garlic sauce. The dish was flavorful with a hint of heat, thanks to the garlic and chilies. The strands of this particular type of pasta are flatter but thicker than spaghetti, making them a chewy foundation that complements the texture of the clams nicely. He says the menu will change “at least four times a year,” and the same items will be available in the bar and restaurant.
In addition to all of the excitement stemming from the kitchen, Bar Boulud will also offer classic cocktails and an extensive wine bar.
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