A Stroke of Genius at Brushstroke


Buttons Bursting

Pants at a Glance
  • scene: Sharp dressed crowd at a sharp styled restaurant
  • sip: Delicious artisanal cocktails depending on your poison of choice - each one we tried was unique but delicious
  • savor: Go hard or go home... if you are here, you may as well get all 10 courses!
  • sit: The bar has the best view of the impressive work the chefs put into each intricate dish; For groups, there are some larger tables in the dining area as well
  • spend: $$$$
  • address: 30 Hudson Street ( at Duane Street)
  • phone number: (212) 791-3771
  • website: www.davidbouley.com

Until recently, Nobu was the predominant spot for Japanese food in Tribeca. Upon entering David Bouley’s Brushstroke, you immediately realize that this restaurant is nothing like the trendy sushi staple down the street. Apparently David Bouley worked for years on perfecting the menu here, and still considers it a work in progress. He partnered with Yoshiki Tsuji – head of the Tsuji Cooking Academy in Osaka – and instructors from the Academy oversee the open kitchen filled with students from the French Culinary Institute (to which the restaurant sits upon the street level of). The cuisine is referred to as “kaiseki,” which is a sequence of elaborate, but expertly prepared dishes – comparable to what we know as a Degustation menu. Let’s just say that if Nobu is Ready to Wear, then Brushstroke is Haute Couture.

I was taken to Brushstroke on a date before the Pants headed to France for a Labor Day Sister-Moon. Although Tribeca’s cobblestone streets don’t fair well for heels (especially for someone as clumsy as I strutting them), I wanted to make sure I gave as much of a great lasting impression for my boyfriend as my meal did for me. Walking into the restaurant, I was glad I opted for a Carrie Bradshaw look. The interior and the crowd were equally as stylish, and as we headed to our seats at the bar (if you like the view at L’Atelier, this is another open kitchen that shouldn’t be missed), I was trying to make eye contact with the chefs for a wink and possibly a freebie. When presented with a 10 course tasting menu, I realized a special snack wouldn’t be necessary – if nonetheless impossible to swindle.

From reading other reviews of the restaurant, I learned that there was both an 8-course menu and a 10-course menu. That’s odd – the evening we dined at Brushstroke, we were only shown a vegetarian 8-course menu (over that) and the $135 per person 10-course menu. After inquiring about an 8-course option, we were told that the Anago dish, along with a sashimi course, wouldn’t be offered; and since my man knows I LOVE me some anago, we both took a deep breath in preparation of the ten courses ahead.

To be honest, the rest of the night turns into a sequence of excitement, marvel, and “oh my g-ds.” I wish I saved my menu, because my imminent food coma fogged my brain of all the detailed ingredients that went into each of the intricate dishes. I have to say this though – both the sashimi course and the anago course were worth the extra money and real estate in my tummy. There was an uni course with truffles that was like taking a bite off of an angel’s halo; the hot dishes – pork and a beef – were both incredible, despite me looking forward to them the least.The last dish was a rice dish you chose from 5 different options – traditional, sushi, and a few others. I went the traditional route, and was presented with a large earthenware pot with rice and steamed rock shrimp. I panicked – there was enough rice in there to feed a family of 4, however after the help of my boyfriend, they gladly packaged it up for me to bring home. As I looked around the dining room, everyone else had similar brown bags at their tables so I didn’t feel like a grandma packing every last scrap of dinner for leftovers. Dessert left something to be desired, but at that point, it didn’t matter what it was – we were way too satisfied with the 9 prior courses to care.

I have heard a ton of mixed reviews, and like I mentioned before, Bouley still considers Brushstroke a work in progress. That said, this restaurant isn’t for the Nobu or omakase sushi fan. A meal at Brushstroke is a journey through the bountiful styles and flavors of traditional Japanese cuisine, presented in intricate preparations. Although best saved for a special occasion, you can (Brush)stroke me any day!

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