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Boulevard

July 18, 2006

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Ah, Boulevard: the famous restaurant at the heart of San Francisco’s fine dining scene, and the quintessential Financial District power lunch. Since 1993, Boulevard has been serving contemporary American dishes, executed with and influenced by the flair and technique of French cuisine, yet still hinting at an international palette of flavors. Under the superior and artful direction of Chef Nancy Oakes, Boulevard has drawn to itself like a magnet Financial District workers and their clients, tourists, and diners from the Bay Area and beyond, all in search of the promised culinary holy grail. Boulevard hardly needs any sort of endorsement, so what could Short Exact possibly add? Well, probably not much; but you know us: we’ll try anyway. Anyway, we would be remiss if we visited Boulevard without documenting the visit! For Short Exact, that would border on criminal.

For one entree, we ordered a very fresh halibut dish,

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served with a thoughtful dressing of aioli, sauteed spinach, and a salsa rosa featuring capers, currants, pine nuts, and peppers: a simple yet superb accompaniment to the clean flavors of the halibut. We also ordered a fire-roasted Angus filet mignon:

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which was cooked to perfection: well-seasoned, juicy, rich, and incredibly flavorful. The vegetables here are bright, colorful French beans cooked perfectly al dente, accompanied by delicious, delicate button mushrooms. This is essentially a “meat and potatoes” dish that is made with excellent ingredients and superb execution, and so, true to such a dish, the filet is accompanied by a light, very tasty potato cake that includes bacon and sour cream. The dressing here is Roma tomato relish and shallot herb vinaigrette.

These entrees were memorable and delicious, but what especially stood out for us was the ahi tuna tartare appetizer:

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Served with accompanying crisps (not pictured above), this was truly an amazing delight. The crisps provided a superb contrasting texture to the very fresh ahi, and the flavor was incredibly bright and refreshing, with the avocado providing a subtle backdrop for the jalapeno and ginger, which literally sparkled in our mouth. This dish featured a fantastic set of ingredients with strong flavors that nonetheless did not overpower the delicate ahi, but instead complemented it perfectly. With an exquisite presentation, bright colors, and such an array of contrasting flavors and textures, this is easily one of the best plates Short Exact has eaten in awhile. Boulevard usually has some sort of tuna tartare appetizer (though with somewhat different preparations), and we would highly recommend you investigate them, whatever its incarnation happens to be when you go. This is definitely not to be missed.

If we had to make a criticism of Boulevard, it would be that the food here is slightly too comfortable. Boulevard takes its diners to heights of the culinary art, and the preparations and presentations are certainly creative, but we had hoped that a restaurant of this stature would be more overtly innovative. We hoped that it would take us further out of our culinary comfort zone; in short, we wanted to be more startled than we were. In addition, relatively rare for San Francisco, the entrees here also decidedly unfriendly to vegetarians, as there is not one truly vegetarian entree here at dinner. We’re sure that the restaurant would be accomodating to a vegetarian diner, but it would be nice to see the kitchen here turn its powers towards creating an innovative dish that is wholly vegetarian in concept, through and through.

Nonetheless, it really is difficult to criticize too much. With its relaxing ambience and comfortably stylish interior, excellent and attentive service, supremely fresh ingredients, and subtle, exquisite food preparation, Boulevard provides a superb and highly recommended dining experience.

RATING:

COST:

1 Mission Street (at Steuart St.)
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: 415.543.6084
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, Mon-Wed 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm, Thurs-Sat 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm.

Cuisine: American (New), French
Neighborhood: Financial District, South of Market

How to get there: Boulevard is within easy walking distance of Muni lines 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 14, 21, 31, 38, 41, 71, F, J, K, L, M, N, T, and the California Street cable car line. BART riders should use Embarcadero Station; for Muni Metro riders, either Embarcadero or Folsom Station is a short walk.

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One comment

  1. […] served with Moroccan spices and herbs and lemon confit. This dish was delicious, and if it weren’t for the spectacular ahi preparation we had at Boulevard recently, we might have viewed the Aqua version even more favorably. Nonetheless, the Moroccan spice assortment is a creative and slightly unusual pairing for the ahi, but the taste of the ahi was still allowed to shine through the spices, and the lemon confit provided a bright backdrop for the interplay of flavors. However, it was a different story with the appetizer of hamachi: […]



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