Exclusive: Bouchon Bakery Turns Into a Café, Adds Dinner Service
March 18, 2014 | by Bao Ong | Food & Drink News
Known for its chocolate chip cookies and flaky croissants, Time Warner Center's Bouchon Bakery is now Bouchon Bakery & Café, serving juicy roast chicken, white bean cassoulet, and more.
Plump roast chicken—a Thomas Keller signature—is on the new dinner menu at Bouchon Bakery & Café. (photo: Dan Nanaert)
While securing a table at Thomas Keller’s Per Se is no easy task, fans of one of the most-respected chefs in the world can always get a seat at his Bouchon Bakery & Café in the Time Warner Center. And as the location celebrates its eighth anniversary this month, Keller and his team have quietly transformed its entire concept, adding "Café" to the name and beginning dinner service in the bustling, mall-located dining room with sweeping Central Park views.
Drawing on qualities from Keller's more full-scale restaurants in Yountville, California (home of French Laundry), Las Vegas, and Beverly Hills, the kitchen went through a six-week overhaul late last summer. “When we were presented with the option to grow our kiosk concept, we seized the opportunity,” Keller told Gotham.
Yes, you can still pick up your coffee and pastries to go, but now you can also sit down to a proper meal. Wild striped bass, white bean cassoulet, and braised beef short ribs are just some of the options on the expanded menu, which is served on shiny new plates made in France. The hours have been extended, too, and the space is available for events.
Crispy wild striped bass is another Bouchon Bakery & Café menu highlight. (photo: Dan Nanaert)
“We’re not quite a bistro, so we’re a café,” said general manager Charles Schmidt. “You can have a quick 45-minute business lunch or sit for an hour-and-a-half for a leisurely dinner.”
The menu is not elaborate, but the French-American fare remains seasonal yet approachable, chef de cuisine Ryan Sands told us. He added that while each dish is not composed of more than three to four ingredients, the kitchen upgrades have allowed the team of chefs to be more creative.
Even seemingly small details matter at Bouchon. The popular croissants once used butter from Vermont, but a newer butter from Normandy with one percent more fat content is now being used. The result? A flaky pastry classic with a sweet, buttery dough.
“From the very beginning, we have been evolving our guests’ experience at the café,” Keller said. “Our renovations last fall positioned us to continue our evolution and do a better job tomorrow than we did today.”
All this, as Keller put it, "with a stunning view"—on and off the plate.