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what can you tell me about Boulevard?

  • j

my wife and i will be in SF for one night - i've heard Blvd or Aqua -- thoughts??

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  1. Boulevard is one of the most popular spots in SF, presumably great for business dinners. Menu reads well, but food rarely delivers on expectations. I have ordered dishes that were missing items that were listed on menu. Prices are misleading. The menu is not set up like Gary Danko, La Folie, or any other tasting menu, but you will spend just as much. You should seriously consider La Folie. Excellent food and chef Passot on premises. A great experience. It mystifies me why La Folie is thought of as "special occasion" by so many who go every 5 years, but Boulevard, Aqua, Danko are frequented multiple times annuallly.

    1 Reply
    1. re: eric

      I would suggest that the chefs at the more popular restaurants better understand what their customer likes to eat and what dining experience they are seeking. And that is why their customer returns frequently.

      IMO, La Folie can be intimidating with its three menus and food choices. I feel the menu at Boulevard is designed to make its guest very comfortable. Look again at the menus and its quite apparent,at least to me.

      Boulevard: Halibut, Cod, Seabass, Pork, Lamb, Duck and Filet.

      La Folie: Black Bass, Sturgeon, Rouget, Duck, Rabbit, Sweetbread, Venison, Tenderloin. And that's just the "standard" menu, am I missing the really good stuff on L'Aventure?

      I am sure La Folie delivers excellent food and experience, but just because they have similar price points, doesn't mean they are easy substitutes. I would not hesitate to recommend Boulevard to anyone seeking a fine dining experience in the city.

    2. a
      Andrew Copeland

      I would HIGHLY recommend Boulevard. The overall quality of the food is excellent, and it lacks the pretension that other restaurants may have. I loved my last meal there, and I thought the only weak part was dessert, which was only mediocre. Overall, a wonderful experience (ask for a table with a view of the bridge)!

      I haven't been to Aqua, so I can't say anything on that restaurant.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Andrew Copeland

        How can mediocre be acceptable for any part of a meal when paying those prices? Boulevard reached its peak about 7 or 8 years ago and has slowly been declining since. There is nothing pretentious about La Folie. There is nothing but sincere, gracious service and extremely generous portions of outstanding food.

        1. re: eric

          Well, I can't argue about your experiences, but the dinner I had there a couple of months ago was the best I've ever had at Boulevard since the place opened in its current location. And it's one of the most beautiful dining rooms in town, with terrific service and a great buzz. I love La Folie, very much, and agree 100% about its sincerity and graciousness, but it doesn't say San Francisco to me the way Boulevard does.

          For the OP, Aqua is another beautiful space, with excellent food and service, but iI find it somewhat hard-edged and corporate feeling, better suited to power lunching than fun dining. I'd vote for Boulevard.

          1. re: eric
            Andrew Copeland

            Mediocre in terms of good restaurants. Also, I wouldn't get the dessert I did get from there if I went again. I thought the wine suggested went well with the meal, the appetizer truly did whet the palette with a variety of flavors, and the entree was perfectly prepared. I was very impressed by the portion size, and the service was nothing but friendly and helpful without being overbearing.

            1. re: Andrew Copeland

              What dessert did you have (so others can avoid).

              Edited: Oops, didn't notice that I replied to a 3-year old comment.

        2. m
          Morton the Mousse

          I love Boulevard. The wood fire oven roasted rack of lamb is the best preparation of lamb I've ever had, and I order the lamb everywhere I go.

          I went during the peak of cherry season and was thrilled with both the foie gras paired with cherries and the dessert: cherries, cherries, cherries.

          1. loud and touristy and way overpriced!

            1. I think it has been slipping of late. Have been taken there for two business meetings, one lunch and one dinner during the last 4 weeks. During the lunch I had the duck burger which was good but the accompanying fried potatoes tasted horribly of rancid oil. Had a green godess salad as an appetizer and the lettuce was wilting and had oxidized ribs which I think is unacceptable. Service was functional but long gaps of our server disappearing.

              Dinner was not much better-- the tomatoes in my appetizer were mealy heirlooms (how do they manage to find mealy heirlooms at peak tomato season?)and the pork chop was cooked to shoe leather consistency eventhough I asked for it to be medium as I dislike overcooked pork. At hight $30's to low $40 for main courses all I kept thinking was that I am glad I was not paying... I think it is a bad sign when you don't like a restaurant of Boulevard's caliber even when dining for free. It was sad, as I had a very good dinner at Boulevard about 1 1/2 years ago.

              For less money, you will eat better at Myth and if you are seaking great ingredients rather than creative cuisine which is basically what Boulevard is known for, head over to Chez Panisse instead.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Amy G

                >>> the tomatoes in my appetizer were mealy heirlooms (how do they manage to find mealy heirlooms at peak tomato season? <<<

                My complaint EXACTLY for ALL the restaurants. According to a recent thread, the weather has not been kind to tomatoes this year. WHY high-end restaurants put them on the menu is beyond me. I don't mind spending ten bucks for a plate of tomatoes, but if you charge that, those tomatoes better be astounding.

                Anyway, I've never been been a Boulevard fan ... or Aqua. I would say that Ron Siegel at The Dining Room at the Ritz is as good as it gets at this time. I might go back just to try what he's doing with summer produce. I liked Michael Minna too, but not as much.

                Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                1. re: rworange

                  I agree. Early Girls from Mariquita and Dirty Girl farms that I have in salads at Rubicon, Incanto, Luella, and A16 have been excellent. I rather that restaurants use great common early girls than mediocre heirlooms. I have had good heirlooms from Ella Bella this year so they are out there.

              2. I have to agree with the negative posts on this thread, I try not to be too negative unless its just horrible but I have always regretted the amount of money and calories the 4 occasions I have gone... Having had a wide variety of entrees across various friends and family, some who are into food and some not, I swore the last time I went would in fact be the last time ever...there are just too many other really good places that I like better for that much money....The service wasn't very good either on 2 of those occasions- one being my mother's 60th birthday dinner...disappointing and not very creative....In its stead, I would recommend Zuni, Delfina, Gary Danko, or even Masa's over Blvd...

                1. Never been to Aqua, but I just had a great meal at Boulevard last month.

                  GOOD: I got the scallops and the lamb, and others at the table got foie gras, pork chop and lamb also. I agree with Morton that the lamb is the best I've had, with an incredible preparation of potatoes 3 different ways - beautiful and delicious. The scallops were also wonderful, perfectly cooked and very tender with a tasty but not overpowering lobster sauce. I tried my friends' foie gras, and it was also perfectly cooked with nice accompaniments. I hear that their ribeye is one of the best in the city, so ask for it if you're into that.

                  BAD: The pork chop was disappointing, not overcooked but a little bland. The desserts were good, but you'd expect more from a restaurant of this caliber. I got the trio of chocolate desserts, 2 of which (pot de creme and ice cream cookie) were excellent. The 3rd was a dry piece of chocolate cake, didn't finish it.

                  ROOM: The dining room is very well-designed and comfortable, and while it is crowded, it's not crowded to the point where the scene overwhelms the dining experience. Try to get a table in or near the back for a great view of the Bay.

                  SERVICE: The service here is fine, not intrusive but also not the most attentive. I got a great wine recommendation when I went, so I was pleased with that.

                  1. Though I haven't been recently, I truly enjoyed the several occasions I dined there. It's one of my favorite restaurant in SF. I can still remember the best rib-eye I've ever had anywhere.

                    1. I recently had dinner at Boulevard during my weekend trip to the city (my first visit to San Francisco) after many recommendations and much high praise. Now, I live in Manhattan and certainly do not suffer from a lack of fantastic, top-notch restaurants. However, considering the reputation that San Francisco has as a food town and in particular how much praise and how highly Boulevard was recommended to me, I was a bit underwhelmed by the entire experience. To start of on a positive note, I did enjoy that the entire menu was a la carte, making dinner with my companion (a picky eater) very easy, and my own choices very free. The atmosphere is elegant and posh, but also fun and comforting. I love that there's an open kitchen, and if I choose to return, I wouldn't mind dropping in for a seat at the "bar" area, reserved for walk-ins which is right in front of all the action. The first course choices were all very creative yet rooted in solid recipes. I particularly loved my cauliflower bisque, with a delicate poached egg in the center, succulent slivers of lobster and the silky bisque poured at the table. But...
                      The service is too austere, and inconsistent. There were large gaps of time between our interaction with the staff. This pattern was set when the bread for our table came out only after we asked for it--about fifteen minutes after two other tables around us that were seated after us had been served bread almost immediately upon seating. I needed to consult the sommelier, and it took forever for him to come to our table. This cost us a good 30 minutes as I didn't want to order before choosing a wine. Even after that, it took forever for the gentleman to return to our table with the wine. Perhaps they need two sommeliers on hand for the dinner hours? After that, the wine that I had ordered wasn't even as the sommelier had suggested it would be. The main courses were executed well, and they were tasty, but really pretty boring. In fact, the first course choices were far more interesting than the mains. I can go anywhere and get a fillet mignon with potatoes, or salmon with rice. The deserts were on par with the main courses for yawn factor. Perhaps the best thing to do is to sit at the open kitchen counter, order a few first course items, some cheese to end and call it a night. For a full meal, I'd rather go somewhere that will surprise me a little--in a good way.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Tyranisone

                        Thanks for the update. If you choose to return to Boulevard you might re-read this 2005 thread for suggestions. Boulevard isn't the type of place that changes much.

                        Boulevard Restaurant
                        1 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                        1. re: Tyranisone

                          Sorry to hear you were underwhelmed. I can tall you many SF'ers agree with your assessment...boring, over priced, not much greatness...nice physical space but that's not food. Frankly I don't get the place. Seems like a very good business dinner where no one will be offended but that's it.

                          1. re: ML8000

                            I'm in the same camp and have frequently been beaten up on this board for suggesting that it is just a great-looking venue with really mediocre, over-priced food and shoddy service.