There are certain chefs in New York who are so acclaimed that they need only go by their first names. Daniel of Daniel Boulud is one of those lucky few. His two Michelin star restaurant Daniel on the Upper East Side is a famous fine-dining destination that’s typically reserved for special occasions. Or perhaps if you’re a fabulous wealthy UES local, it’s just your local neighborhood spot. The pandemic has been especially rough on the fine dining segment. Coordinating multiple plates of a meticulous tasting just doesn’t work when you’re outdoors. So Daniel has momentarily put the tasting on hold and has pivoted to a more casual bistro format–The Terrace at Daniel–although the prices remain sky high. Now Daniel has resumed indoor dining, something I am not quite ready for, but The Terrace remains open.
We arrived at The Terrace one chilly September evening. The cold made me wonder about the continued viability of outdoor dining in the winter months. Hopefully some investments in heat lamps will be made in the near future. We quickly ordered some cocktails to warm ourselves up. The staff at Daniel were certainly very congenial and were great at making small talk. They made it seem like we were old friends, even though we most certainly were not. In short, service was top notch and Michelin star worthy.
Because it was so chilly, I wanted to start off the meal with something warm, like a deep, velvety soup. The butternut squash veloute soup was just what I needed, a smooth puree of squash with pieces of mushroom that tasted like autumn. We also ordered the pate, a very traditional French dish, and the robust paste, encased in a thick pastry, put a layer of winter fat over our bones.
For the entrees, we ordered the halibut and the burger. Perhaps it was because we were outdoors and it was cold, but the halibut didn’t seem to quite live up to its potential. What did really withstand the outside elements was the fantastic burger. It was an eye-raising $36, but it was undeniably the star of the meal. The fries that accompanied the burger were pretty stellar as well. I overheard the table near us ordering an additional side of the fries.
The evening concluded with a pretty plate of fig galette, which was stripped down to a small, minimalist crust that served as a shelf for a few strategic pieces of figs. Something about the arrangement looked very 90s to me. What was more satisfying were the complimentary madeleines that we received with the check. In fact, the less fussy the dish we ordered at Daniel, the more successful it was. So if you want to optimize your Terrace experience, go for something that would be on the menu of an upscale country club.
Daniel (The Terrace)
60 E 65th St (between Madison and Park Ave)
New York, NY 10065
Make reservations here.