San Francisco Profile: Boulevard Restaurant
My final delight at the Wine Bloggers Conference was a dinner at San Francisco’s Boulevard Restaurant, which I believe was awarded a Michelin star in the most recent guide. California American cuisine with a French backbone defines the style of this place, and its beautiful view of the bay bridge provides an appropriately Californian backdrop to the wonderful food on offer. I had a three course meal, including some nice Vouvray from Domaine Huet, and the wine list is well selected with a good range of styles and prices and mostly small producers both by the glass and the bottle.
Course 1: Short Rib Tortellini
Served with shaved summer truffle and squash and potato puree, this impressive appetizer had extremely delicate flavours, even with the short ribs. The thoughtful layering of flavour lay a nice foundation for the robust short ribs, which certainly gave the dish a nice punch when paired with the perfectly al dente pasta. I also appreciated how the creamy potatoes were coupled with crunchy diced cubes of squash, with the contrasting texture providing a little intrigue to the dish.
Course 2: Shrimp and Lobster with Seabass
Cooked with tomato, chili spice and some fresh crunchy beans, this dish again showed great attention to texture and subtle flavour combinations. While many think of sea bass as overwhelmingly rich, the fish in this dish was subtle and in no way over buttered or creamed. Rather, a light grilling highlighted the fish’s fresh oils and how light its texture can be in the mouth – really bringing out the essence of the bass. Again, the beans and peas add great crunch and it is clear the chef here has great textural awareness. The lobster and shrimp were presented in a simple and pure form that brought out the umami flavours in the bass. This is a great dish with amazingly layered flavours and a very subtle spice kick. Really quite a brilliant dish.
Course 3: Panna Cotta
If all Panna Cotta tasted this good we’d all be the size of Italian opera stars. Plated with seasonal nectarines and raspberries, this was also served with perhaps the best sorbet I’ve ever tasted and a thoughtfully prepared baklava. The panna cotta itself had some impressively high quality vanilla beans ground into it: so pure and expressive with the perfect texture. The honey drizzled artfully on top added some intriguing floral elements to the dish. The sorbet was made with fresh nectarines and putting a spoonful in your mouth could be equated to eating a cloud. I’ve never tasted such light texture but such full flavour with sorbet before. The baklava was very high quality, with freshly cracked nuts and a floral and very fragrant honey. The pastry itself was light and crisp all in all making for textbook baklava.
In the end, this restaurant pretty much blew me away – and I’ve been to some very impressive places in the Bay Area when I was living down there. If you live in San Francisco or are planning a trip in the near future I highly recommend a trip to Boulevard.