I’ve been to Boulevard Restaurant on San Francisco’s Mission Street many times but have never taken the time to review it or focus on the food and wine long enough to take it in like I do so many of my restaurant reviews. (check out our food & wine section).
This is largely because most of my visits to Boulevard has been more business and we’ve been more focused on apps, products and business plans than the food.
Alas, recently, I attended a press dinner where the prime goal was to connect with others and I didn’t have to sell anything.
In 1993, Nancy Oakes opened it up in partnership with designer Pat Kuleto.
Surrounded by Pat Kuleto’s timeless Belle Epoque inspired design, Chef Oakes wonderful expression of American regional flavors with a French influenced style has made it a culinary landmark in the San Francisco Bay Area.
As luck would have it, I was part of a group of over a dozen people so was able to sample, see or taste more than I normally would.
Let’s start with the easy ones: AHI TUNA Ito-Zukuri if you want to keep you healthy. Or, if not, padron pepper tempura with white sesame aioli and togarashi-shoyu vinaigrette. They also have a scrumptious rossa bianca eggplant with wasabi shinku pear dressing & shiso.
For something a little more unusual, try their calamari street vendor style pork belly, which is stuffed with yam starch noodles, white shrimp & scallions, chili pickled watermelon, cucumber & peanuts. Someone ordered the pan-seared sea scallops with artichoke hearts, fresh shelling beans & sea spinach, which is served with preserved lemon, castelvetrano olive & amaranth gremolata.
Before we even got to starters, they brought out a delicious cheese sampler to die for with a l’il fig on the side:
No one seemed to order a dish I SHOULD have ordered: the Ravioli Porcini Butter Confit Rabbit with wild greens and ricotta. What was I thinking? Calories likely but I’m still dreaming of the ‘what would it have tasted like?’ They serve with bellwether basket ricotta, borage, nettles (yes nettles) and lamb’s quarters. And, this delicious dish comes with hon shemeji mushrooms. As for salads, no one ordered any of those either yet they’re my automatic go-to appetizer most of the time.
They had a poached pear, roasted squash and Spanish goat cheese salad on the list made with grapes, roasted walnuts and topped off with a Noble Sherry vinaigrette. OR, how about the browkaw avocado and roasted beet arugula salad that none of us ordered either? (served with pine nuts, hearts of palm and truffle relish, with an Arbequina olive oil — idiots that we were?)
That said, some of us did something right since we went for the Buffalo Mozzarella & Heirloom tomato salad which was served with a red quinoa persillade, sweet basil pesto, arugula and olio verde. AND, one person ordered the grilled salmon with lemon & herbs. Need I say more? (served with roasted lobster, abalone mushrooms, Nasturtium Beurre Fondu, HeirloomCorn, Wild Rice & White Rice Beans with Roasted Shallot & Toasted Caraway). Not so much the idiots I thought we first were when I dove into the earlier menu.