First Impressions: Bouley Botanical

Bouley Botanical tableAdam’s company is always looking for new locations for its annual party—they hold it after the holidays—and if Adam and I learned one thing at our wedding, it’s more cowbell that spaces for around 60 people are rarer than you might think. So when I heard that David Bouley’s second event space, Bouley Botanical, was open, I mentioned that Adam’s company might want to consider it. (What can I say? I’d rather walk if at all possible.)

I believe this was only the eighth event held in the space—in what used to be White & Church/Il Matto, and before that Arqua—and overall the event came off very well.

It took a singular vision to devote all those grand windows to planters, but the effect inside is appealing—especially when, after a guest asked for mint in her drink, the waiter snipped off a nearby sprig. There are birdcages on the walls and objets d’art here and there, but the focal point is definitely what’s happening in the kitchen—not just because it’s open, at the far end of the room, but because Bouley Botanical leaves one wall blank for video projection. When Adam and I walked in, we were surprised to see a mammoth hand violating a chicken. (Someone soon requested that the video be turned off.) In any event, the stage lighting above the kitchen indicates that demos will be regularly offered.

The food was very good, from the dazzling passed hors d’oeuvres on through to two desserts and petits fours. I never quite understood why the venue allowed just one entrée (the party’s organizer had to argue for the right for folks to opt for a second choice a few days out), but I believe that may change with time, and anyway, the steak was delicious. Adam said it was a fancier version of something we used to have at Upstairs, as was the crab dashi, and truffles abounded throughout the meal, which is always a treat. I will say that I was disappointed to learn too late that the “Chef’s Seated Canapé” included foie gras.

I sat next to a couple who used to live in the area, and we agreed the place had elements that reminded us of Upstairs at Bouley—the open kitchen (and accompanying buzz), the stage lights and screen, the panoply of Bouley breads, David Bouley himself arriving to help out…. As the party was breaking down, I glanced at the door right as someone was leaving. He waved, so I waved back before asking around who it was. (The wine was good, too.) “Chef Bouley,” said the waiter, as the man himself rode off on a bicycle.

Bouley Botanical is at 281 Church (at White), 917-237-3205;

Bouley Botanical roomBouley Botanical table2Bouley Botanical birdcagesBouley Botanical birdcage2Bouley Botanical chickenBouley Botanical mantleBouley Botanical hors doeuvres1Bouley Botanical hors doeuvres2Bouley Botanical chefs seated canapeBouley Botanical dashiBouley Botanical steakBouley Botanical plants

Recent New Kid on the Block/First Impressions articles:
Superstar Gym
Telepan Local
Karen Lord Pilates Movement
China Blue
Harley-Davidson of NYC
Bikram Yoga Soho
The Armoury
Flywheel Sports
The Lotus Room at Tamarind Tribeca
Lyons Den Power Yoga

Update: Comments have been turned off due to spam. To have them turned back on, email



  1. I visited the space the other day and was blown away by how good it smelled! The space is simple, elegant and beautiful.

  2. To the author – thank you for showing such engaging images! The room looks like an oasis of greenery much needed in NYC. I have followed Chef Bouley from his first restaurant when it was on Duane Park’s North side back in the late ’80’s. He continues to re-invent the experience of fine dining. A waiter allowed me to peak into Bouley Botanical as they were setting up for a private event for an anniversary party. At the time a demonstration was being projected on a pristine wall that re-defines what a ‘wall’ can really be – it’s organic, highly polished, like whale bone, that gives you permission to touch it’s undulating smooth surface with gold rubbed into its skin. The demonstration video floated like reflection in the water that was visually evocative and content engaging. There is an alter of herbs to bask in front of, birds, that although caged, are the likes of artist Joseph Cornell -collage elements comprise their colored feathers.
    To the author – I ask you to reflect: this space is a huge undertaking. The beautiful copper planters (that seem to reference Donald Judd) are living herbs – over 500 varieties I was told. This is not a decor statement but a commitment to real health. I learned that each of these herbs is used in some manner in his flagship restaurant as well as in the event space. The soil has been organically nourished, the lights specific to providing a more nutrient dense environment – which means a higher quality product that we, the Bouley customer ingests! Have you never seen Julia Childs cook? These are real techniques handed down from generations – your description of the chef violating a chicken is beneath you. Your comment about foie gras indicates that you are perhaps a vegetarian. If this is the case – leave these elements of your personal politics outside of your story. We in the TriBeCa community are lucky to have Chef Bouley as our resident chef. He is a master of great technique and a creative talent (unexploited) who has dedicated his life and now this space to sharing the culture of food through nutrition. I congratulate his new efforts on a beautiful environment and from the look of your images, innovative healthy food. For Your First Impression – take the time to look beyond the beauty and ask why – you will walk away a deeper soul.