Home Business Chef Daniel Boulud’s ‘terrance’ thrives despite limited outdoor seating

Chef Daniel Boulud’s ‘terrance’ thrives despite limited outdoor seating

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Daniel Boulud reopened his five-star eatery on the Upper East Side last week — and nobody could complain that the atmosphere was stuffy.

The legendary chef was busy tending to 10 tables, generously spaced apart on the sidewalk in front of his Michelin-starred restaurant Daniel at 60 E. 65th St. in recognition of health and safety imperatives during the coronavirus pandemic.

No, French-born Boulud wasn’t delivering dishes on disposable plates with plastic ware, but the clinking of wine glasses were at times no match for the sound of taxis moving along Park Avenue a few steps away.

“It’s become a little bit of a journey,” Boulud told Side Dish. “It’s not fine dining at the highest level, but it is fine dining au casual, and customers appreciate it.”

Reservations for a seat on the planter-lined patch of sidewalk — dubbed “the terrace” — are now subject to the weather, and rainstorms on Friday and Saturday ended up putting a crimp in some patrons’ dinner plans.

Indeed, reservations have been one of the knottiest problems to untangle, both before and after Daniel’s outdoor reopening last Wednesday, according to Boulud.

At first, Boulud had planned a “no reservation” policy because “so much of outdoor dining depends on the weather.” But faced with a brisk clamor, he ultimately decided to take same-day reservations each afternoon between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., with a few tables reserved for walk-ins.

“People have more time to organize their lives now. We have pressure from guests who want to make reservations. It isn’t like they have to leave work anymore,” Boulud says.

One bright spot is that with more diners working from home, folks are coming for early bird seatings of 5 p.m., enabling Daniel to do three seatings a night per table instead of two.

“This is not restaurant Daniel, where you can spend three hours. There are limitations,” Boulud says. “We are here to provide a wonderful meal but if we have a little pressure for the table we hope they can respect that.”

So far, he adds, customers have been “understanding and flexible.”

He makes no bones about the fact that his outdoor Daniel version is a temporary — and less-than-profitable — arrangement while his 40 tables inside remain empty.

Diners have come from the neighborhood and across the park from on the Upper West Side, while others have driven in from Queens, Brooklyn, lower Manhattan and Westchester County.

Guests run the gamut, from families with babies (they are given a bib that says: “I’d Rather Eat at Daniel”) to upscale locals looking for an excuse to haul their Prada and Chanel out of the closet.

The menu, which includes $34 to $49 entrees, ranges from a $31 Provencale Nicoise salad to a $36 “Frenchie” burger and a $46 “line-caught” striped bass. That’s a far cry from indoor Daniel, where a four-course, prix-fixe menu costs $158 per person, which can double with wine pairings.

In a nod to diners’ requests, Boulud will be adding a three-course prix-fixe menu, beginning Tuesday, for Bastille Day. It will feature his famed bouillabaisse, Nicoise salad, dessert and a glass of rose for around $82.

The prix fixe menu will change weekly, and so will the price. Drink selections range from a $16 glass of Cala rose to a $395 bottle of Dom Perignon Brut 2006.

As to the future of fine dining, Boulud is cautiously optimistic.

“We have to be more affordable and approachable,” he says. “But people are missing the privilege of the [fine dining] experience and would like to see it come back. Fine dining will evolve but it will never die. People appreciate it too much — even in financially challenged times. Fine dining will be sensitive to that.”

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