Sunday, November 18, 2007

Boulevard of Fulfilled Dreams

From the moment I first set foot in San Francisco, "the" restaurant I wanted to visit was Boulevard. Even when I was offered an extravagant all-expenses-paid birthday supper at Gary Danko, my unrequited lust and dedication never wavered from Boulevard.

Because my San Francisco friends are discerning individuals and because I tend to indiscreetly drop inappropriate hints, my friends brought me a farewell lunch-to-remember-for-ages at Boulevard.

After arriving at the famed restaurant, I recall my hands trembling and sweating profusely when I was seated. I remember drawing in a sharp breath and sitting upright in eager anticipation when I opened the menu. (If you are a food blogger, you will understand that dining at certain restaurants may be more nerve-racking then going on a first date.) "Will the food be up to your standards or offensive? Will it have bad breath? Err. . . I mean, will it emit noxious odors, or a stomach-growl-inducing aroma?"

In date-speak, let us just say I got lucky that afternoon.

For my main course, I ordered the oven-roasted pork tenderloin. According to the menu, the pork tenderloin came with (1) a "melted mountain of gorgonzola butter," (2) soft polenta with pine nuts, (3) grilled mission figs cooked in a fig vincotto, and (4) a frisee and curly cress salad. When the dish arrived onto our table, I delayed for a moment before realizing that the "melted mountain of gorgonzola butter," was actually a puddle of dark au jus careening across the plate. I disappointedly thought, "substantial puddle of gorgonzola butter would have been a more apt description."

Nevertheless, with one bite, the beast within me was appeased. The figs were tender, voluptuous, and enlivened by the fig vincotto liqueur. While there was no mountain of butter discernable with my naked eye, there was a copious mound of polenta present at my disposal. Every forkful of the pillowy and pudding-like polenta contained the muted whisper of gorgonzola and a pleasant crunch from the toasted pine nuts. Finally, the unblemished pork tenderloin was succulent and flavorful.

My companions dined on pan-roasted local petrale sole with summer beans and king trumpet mushrooms sautéed in beurre noisette, and

Wood oven roasted Creekstone farms angus bavette bathed in beef au jus with baked fingerling potatoes blanketed in creme fraiche, smoked bacon, and chives, sautéed erbette chard.

To close our meal, my companions and I shared three desserts, including a warm chocolate budino cake with chocolate sauce, fresh cherries, and vanilla cherry sorbet swirl ice cream. As the budino cake at Boulevard confirmed, anytime "warm" and "chocolate cake" are used in a sentence, the result will be euphoric. The intoxicating and bold cherry flavors of the ice cream perfectly complemented dense chocolate cake.

We also divvied up a vanilla crème bruleé. As all good crème bruleés are, the vanilla crème bruleé was silken and creamy, and channeled fresh springtime flavors with the addition of the sweet blueberries and tart blackberries.

Finally, we shared a dessert of caramelized angel food cake with blossom bluff peaches, ginger marscapone cream, and fresh peach sorbet. When the dessert arrived, I found myself being taken aback by the heavy scone-like appearance of the angel food cake, for I had envisioned a generic slice of the pale and airy cake drizzled with a simple syrup. Instead, Boulevard had taken classic dessert elements and concentrated peach flavors and repackaged them into a dessert you would expect to see in the pages of a Martha Stewart magazine. Although I enjoyed the peach biscuit, the artificial peach flavors reminded me a little too much of gummy Haribo peach rings that I consumed as a child.

As I finished my meal, and wiped my mouth, I looked down at my once-trembling hands. My hands were no longer shaking on the table. Instead, they were busy unzipping my tight pants so that my stomach could make room for more.


  1. you've got some good friends! lived in sf for years - but never have eaten there. now i'm totally kicking myself for not trying!

  2. I have the Boulevard cookbook and all the recipes are really challenging. For me it's more difficult than the French Laundry cookbook. I only ate there once - a while back - and it was good. You remind me I should give it a revisit.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful send-off lunch. I should leave San Francisco so my friends can take me there! :)

  4. i absolutely love your blog posts. i wish i could eat the food right off the page.

  5. sigh... everything looks so good - I'm hungry now and lunch is so far away.

  6. Boulevard is one of my favorite restaurants of all time -- I've been fortunate to go a few times because it's one my folks' absolute favorites too. I never feel like a single bite is wasted -- that's just how good it is. It's hard for me to stomach (no pun intended!) that there are restaurants in NY that are twice as expensive but not even a third as good as Boulevard ...


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