130 West Broadway on Duane
$250 for three, with several drinks, with tip
If there’s one New York City chef I’m not familiar with, it would be David Bouley. Four years ago, the boy surprised me by making reservations at Bouley Bakery (now back to its original Bouley name). But it was a hundred-degree summer day and because I didn’t know he made plans, I met him wearing flip flops. We had to cancel then and we just never revisited.
Turn the calendar to 2005 and Bouley opens Upstairs across the street, a packed space that offers sushi right above his café and bakery. I didn’t do my homework before I met a client here and while in a cab from work I thought, I could use a nice steak today. As soon as I sat down and read through the menu, I exclaimed, I guess I’m eating sushi tonight!
For our sushi, we had a feast and ordered several pieces of uni and otoro (like buttah, baby, buttah!), hamachi, shad and mackerel. For our small plates, we shared a delicate bowl of Japanese tofu with mushrooms in truffle dressing and a very nice serving of monkfish liver, all while we were swimming in their delightful grapefruit sake martinis.
Other reviews claim that when the chef is not in the premises, the service tends to be frustrating. I was in the middle of our second sushi plate, happily drunk and satisfied, when I turned around and saw the handsome man with salt and pepper hair behind the open kitchen counter. It’s David Bouley himself and maybe that’s why our waiter was very attentive. But chef or no chef present, sushi should always mean fresh fish. Upstairs surely provided them.