99 7th Avenue South
New York, New York 10014
None of which equals the poison welling up in your eyes that show me my poor soul reversed, my dreams throng to drink at those green distorting pools.
It was the evening of the day after a wet and windy blizzard in New York. Black snow lined the streets and lakes of treacherous brown slush filled the crosswalks. Cold, dark, windy and wet, we welcomed the light and warmth of a bistro.
Boucherie is located in the old Circle Repertory Theater on 7th Avenue just south of the Christopher Street subway stop. I passed by it several times on my way to the co-op space where I have been working. Boucherie is a large space with 320 tables. It was deserted when we arrived due to the winter storm.
The zinc bar is enormous with Thonet bar stools and a large wood-framed mirror over the bar. According to the website, the bar is absinthe-inspired. I wonder what this means? In the 1900s, absinthe was known as the “Green Fairy” and was the muse for many poets and artists. The original Bohemians viewed absinthe as a spiritual guide to transformation. Shamanic. Regarding absinthe:
It must also be remembered that in the many French cafes and restaurants which have recently sprung up in London, Absinthe is always to be obtained at its customary low price — French habits, French fashions, French books, French pictures, are particularly favored by the English, and who can predict that French drug-taking shall not also become a la mode in Britain?
Marie Corelli (“Wormwood: A Drama of Paris”)
Flowers of Evil, so says Baudelaire.
Round marble-top tables with Thonet chairs are in the center of the room. The flooring is white mosaic tiles. A large community table anchors the main dining hall. There are two open kitchens areas: the butcher counter and the main kitchen. There is a mezzanine level that allows diners to dine above the action below. The designers made good use of old wood floors and white tile to separate the dining areas.
Boucherie is well designed although it feels somewhat like a movie set: perhaps it is too perfectly designed? “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Says the Queen in Hamlet.
The staff was uncertain and overeager in the way that you see in new restaurants. We had four waiting on our table. Sometimes they felt like the Keystone Cops but were well intentioned. They were traditionally dressed with black vests, black ties and white aprons.
The bread came with slices of prosciutto. This was a surprise; rarely have we seen this in the bistro world. The bread was a quality baguette.
Boucherie means “butcher shop.” Accordingly, the menu is long on meat dishes. Like the size of the restaurant, the menu is enormous. There are French versions of a New York strip, veal porterhouse, rack of venison, rib eye and filet mignon. There is a “Butcher Block” offering which is a “large format” house selection of three meat dishes. It is $175. I wonder how many carnivores this would serve?
Boucherie offers a charcuterie which includes duck breast, duck salami, prosciutto, pheasant and chicken liver mousse. It offers all of the standard hors d’oeuvres. One offering is a “boudin noir” (blood sausage, potato puree and caramelized apples).
And then there are the daily specials: lobster grille, duck cassoulet, coq au vin, bouillabaisse, sole, boeuf bourguignon, and a choucroute. The deserts are the standards: creme brulee, profiteroles, mousse au chocolate, crepes suzette and ice cream.
My main was the Cabillaud Roti (seared cod, roasted parsnips, haricot vert and carrot puree). My friend had the Boucherie Burger ( dry-aged Pat LaFrieda blend, caramelized onions, aged gruyere and french fries). The serving was large but my friend reported that it was excellent. The fries were perfectly cooked as was the burger-so says the friend (noted: I do not eat beef).
My dish was as a food tower. However, it suffered from poorly designed architecture. Because all of the ingredients were stacked, the flavors and textures were confused. The intention of the chef behind each individual element was lost. When I removed the top floor-the cod-from the tower the experience improved.
The food was competent but not remarkable. It did not sparkle and it tasted tired. I suggest greater emphasis on clarity of texture, freshness flavor and presentation.
Jerome Dihui and The Group-NYC
The Executive Chief of Boucherie is Jerome Dihui. He attended culinary school in Côte d’Ivoire and studied traditional French cooking. He worked at Pastis for 10 years and became its Chef de Cuisine.
Boucherie is a member of a collective of restaurants called The Group-NYC. Boucherie’s sister restaurants are Akashi, Dominique Bistro, and Olio E Piu and they are located in the West Village.
In Boucherie, we have a grand cafe that is modeled after a bistro. It is impressive in its size and its design. There are several dining areas. One can dine at the bar, in the middle on the round tops, at the butcher counter in the back or on the mezzanine level. The food was competent but not exciting.
To be fair, fish is not Boucherie’s strength. Go, try Boucherie, order meat if that is your thing. We think you will be satisfied. We will be back. We want to explore more dishes and feel the energy of the cafe when it is not deserted.
Service: 5. Helpful but uncertain and clumsy.
Archetype: 5. Most of the indicia of the bistro archetype were checked but there is an intangible element called “soul” which it lacks. (To understand what this feels like go to Odeon. ) The archetypal bistro is small and family-owned. The design elements are personal and quirky. They accumulate organically. Boucherie feels designed. Even so, it is beautiful, and I liked the open windows and light.
Food: 6 Average. Unremarkable. Demolish the food tower. The meat offerings are an open question. I would bet on high quality offerings.
Energy: 5. It was dead because of the weather. In fairness, we will return and re-evaluate.
Press notices and reviews
Circle Repertory Company