Café Boulud: An Iconic Restaurant In Palm Beach

July 29, 2022

Legendary Café Boulud offers value and an experiential culinary journey to savor

With The Palm Beaches Restaurant Month expanded to a full month this year (August 1 – 31), there’s one iconic Palm Beach restaurant that never fails to deliver: Café Boulud
 
One of the island’s most coveted dining destinations, the award-winning French-American café at the Brazilian Court Hotel and Beach Club has long been the place to “see and be seen.” With seating options that include its lush courtyard terrace, stylish dining rooms or dramatic backlit bar, Café Boulud boasts a wine cellar filled with vintages from every continent and a menu created by Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud and Executive Chef Dieter Samijn. Mouthwatering local favorites include Potato Crusted Seabass, Maine Scallops with Summer Squash and Olive Aioli, and the beloved Dover Sole Meuniere, filleted tableside.
 
These days, Samijn is running the show. Originally from Belgium, the classically-trained chef previously worked internationally for renowned chefs Alain Ducasse, Peter Goossens and Bart Vandaele, as well as for Boulud at New York’s Bar Boulud, an Upper West Side French bistro. He joined Café Boulud in early 2021, and quickly became known for his embrace of the restaurant's French-American traditions, incorporation of local flavors and creative, internationally-influenced cuisine. We sat down with Samijn to discuss some of the personal touches that continue to make his restaurant so irresistible.

Chef Dieter Samijn
Executive Chef Dieter Samijn - Courtesy of Café Boulud

 

For those that don’t know, tell us a bit about the history of Café Boulud and how it became so legendary.

Café Boulud is one of the most well-known restaurants on Palm Beach island. Daniel (Boulud) opened it 19 years ago in the Brazilian Court Hotel and Beach Club, which has served Palm Beach vacationers for nearly a century. He opened it as a Palm Beach version of his Café Boulud, a café on New York’s Upper East Side known for its modern and classic French cuisine. Palm Beach draws a lot of visitors from the northeast who want to experience a little bit of that New York flavor while they’re here.

Brazilian Court
The Brazilian Court Hotel

 

What’s your approach to Café Boulud? How have you brought your own culinary style to the restaurant?

At Café Boulud, we strive to bring some of the well-known Daniel Boulud dishes and plenty of Daniel Boulud spirit. The original Café Boulud has certain signature dishes on the menu, like a sea bass in potato crust. We also offer those signature dishes here. Just as with the original restaurant, our menu offers a bit of a voyage theme with dishes from all over the world, each with a little story behind it. We try to keep our cuisine approachable yet elevated. I also like to add my own flair to our menu selections; Daniel encourages his chefs to include their own ideas in the dishes. 

Lobster roll
Courtesy of Café Boulud

This past year, I’ve been focused on adding lighter, vegetable-forward dishes to the menu, which has been a hit with the hot weather here. Our menu is very seasonal, with a five-course tasting menu that changes weekly. And for the past six months or so, I’ve been focused on adding some fun to the dining experience. We’ve added a crème brulé dessert that is burned tableside, for example. And our evolving menu gives our staff the opportunity to create new and exciting dishes constantly, made with local seasonal items or interesting ideas. It’s very motivating.

Cafe Boulud Interiors
Café Boulud Interior - Courtesy of Noah Fecks

 

Tell me about your Belgian roots and how they influence your dishes.  

I grew up in Belgium, attended culinary school there and began my training there. Belgian food is quite rich, so you’ll find those influences on our menu during the winter months. Sometimes I’ll incorporate the vegetables I grew up with, such as Belgian Endive, Salsify or certain root vegetables. But I try to keep it light, because I do like to keep Café Boulud’s cuisine a bit lighter and adhere to Daniel’s current cooking style, too. An example of a Belgian-inspired dish that guests loved was a dish we had on the menu this past winter: rabbit braised in brown beer with prunes. We’ll probably bring that dish back when it gets a little colder.

Dieter Samijn
Executive Chef Dieter Samijn

 

What are one or two dishes that people absolutely must try at Café Boulud during Palm Beach Restaurant Month?

With The Palm Beaches Restaurant Month, we want to bring value and a culinary experience to guests – which is why we decided to bring a few signature favorites from some of Daniel’s other restaurants and put them on the menu here. It gives our guest a chance to experience a bit of Daniel “abroad” without leaving Palm Beach. And we’ve made it nice; we are really putting effort into this, instead of simply running promotions that are slimmed-down versions of the normal items on the menu. We are focused on quality and making the experience special.

Tuna crudo
Courtesy of Café Boulud

For example, from Daniel’s new seafood-focused restaurant, Le Pavillon NYC, our appetizer specials for dinner will include Oysters Vanderbilt, complete with John's River oyster gratinées, hazelnut and a parsley-seaweed crust. From Bar Boulud, we have Pâté en Croûte, a crusted pastry made with duck, chicken, foie gras and pistachio. From Daniel’s Mediterranean-inspired Boulud Sud, we’re offering Octopus a la Plancha with Marcona almond cream, arugula, Valencia Orange and Xeres vinaigrette.

Polpo
Courtesy of Café Boulud

We’re also offering two lighter local favorites for lunch: pan-seared Dover Sole with seasonal accoutrements and Roasted Chicken with gratin dauphinois, lettuce, tomato and vinaigrette. One of our featured desserts, Key Lime Pie, highlights citrus flavors with grapefruit sorbet, and Daniel’s freshly-baked Signature Madeleines will bring the sweet flavors of France to Palm Beach. I think all these dishes work wonderfully at Café Boulud with our warm weather and the ocean. I’d love to encourage guests to stop in for both lunch and dinner during The Palm Beach Restaurant Month and try our specials. I can promise that they will all be unforgettable. 

Pan-seared Dover sole
Courtesy of Café Boulud

 

What’s one activity in Palm Beach that you would recommend to visitors in addition to eating at Café Boulud?

I love cycling along the ocean early in the mornings. Sometimes I ride south to Delray Beach or north to Riviera Beach. And I love the beaches and swimming in the ocean here on Palm Beach island.

Oceanfront at the BRAZILIAN COURT
Oceanfront in Palm Beach

During restaurant month, Café Boulud is presenting a $49 pre-fixe three-course lunch menu with options that will include Dover Sole, Roasted Chicken, Shabazi Spiced Mediterranean Sea Bass and Bouillabaise. For dinner, Café Boulud is offering a $65 pre-fixe three course dinner menu that will Signature Steak Tartare, Roasted Duck Breast, Shabazi Spiced Mediterranean Sea Bass and Bouillabaise. Click here or call (561) 655-6060 for additional details; resy.com for reservations.

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Linnea Bailey
Linnea Bailey is a freelance writer based in South Florida. A former award-winning newspaper reporter, she now owns a public relations company in West Palm Beach. Linnea enjoys traveling, spending time with family and experiencing all the arts and cultural offerings The Palm Beaches have to offer. Find her on Instagram @linneabaileypr.