4th Street Calgary - BLVD
Oh boy, How do I describe my experience at this new place? Hmmmmm.....weird.
Loungey feel, scantily clad staff, haphazard (at best) service, cool looking room, good vibe, eclectic crowd, and the food......
Possibly some more fine tuning on this menu will improve things. I am a stickler for good spelling on menus. Enough said.
And I love creative dishes that are well thought out and properly executed. Ahem....
I had prawns in a fish sauce - brown sugar - caramel - sesame glaze. Sound good? I thought so too. Prawns were cooked nicely but the sauce was thick, sticky, gloopy, overly sweet and did not improve the prawns at all. There is a reason why prawns have been timelessly prepared with a few key flavours....garlic, lemon, basil, chili etc. Because they taste GOOD. I would advise against the prawns.
Oh, and I ordered sparkling water with my apps. Voss. Enough already with the Voss!! I want Pellegrino. But that's just me. Again, a taste thing.
Next was a middle eastern cheese (haloumi?) and chorizo dish. I was pretty interested to try it out. I love sausage. The pieces were cut really small and crisped so that the interior was dry. I love when sausage is juicy inside, even juicy enough for some of the red, delicious stuff to drip onto my plate or right down my chin. Um, this was not the case. The sausage was dry and so was the cheese. And there was a dryish red pepper pesto or something underneath it all, It needed some pizzaz and some moisture. Again, I hope the kitchen works out these kinks, but I suspect the priority here is on scene/alcohol so I am not holding my breath.
Check it out though and decide for yourself.
Having tried BLVD I too must agree that the prices are a bit over the top. I recently had the galloway beef on crostini. If I recall, (I tend to block out bad memories) it was 3 somewhat chewy pieces of beef on small, bit size crostini toasts. 20 dollars. I didn't bother order a main dish. Their dinner menu lists 4 mains. I hope they get things figured out. 4th Street could really use a nice, consistent fine dining location.
So I decided to try BLVD on Friday early evening for a drink and a snack. My husband and I were exhausted from a long and stressful week. We walked out the door of his office building starving and craving a martini, and thought - why not give it a try.
It was 6:30 and the place was empty except for 2 tables. The hostess and the waitresses, although sweet, were dressed like some Paul Vicker's establishment. We were seated at a table right next to a large pillar, and right on top of one of the only other occupied tables in the restaurant. We asked to move to something a bit more private, but were told that all of the other tables in the restaurant were reserved and would be filling up shortly. So we stayed where we were and consequently were "entertained" by the rather loud talk of the table next to us.
Our waitress was incredibly bugglegum bubbly - which didn't really seem to correspond with the rather subdued, loungy atmosphere of the restaurant. She immediately launched into an extended rendition of the feature drink (a "boozy" nectarine concoction with three shots - again, not what I would have thought was the type of drink the place would have "featured") and the feature meal, despite the fact that it was rather clear that we had already decided on both for ourselves.
We each had one martini (I did like the glassware - which is really the best thing I can say about the place) and shared the cheese platter, the latter of which, although tasty, was really nothing special: three standard Janice Beaton cheeses - blue, brie, and smoked cheddar - frozen grapes, sugared almonds, and cherry compote. And, although I appreciated the server's enthusiasm, I didn't really think it was necessary for her to explain in detail what the selections were and how it was best for us to eat them.
Since we were headed home for a dinner party, we didn't try anything else. The bill was around $60 - which was pretty much what I expected after reading other posts on this site (and which was too much for what we actually received). Oh yes, and when we left there were still no other tables occupied in the restaurant ... so much for all other other "imminently" arriving reservations.
Overall, I probably won't be back, at least in the near future. I think they still need to figure out who their audience is and whether they want to be a Paul Vicker's-like place where it matters more what the serving staff looks like than how the customers are treated and how unique and exciting the food is. I guess that when I go out and pay $15+ for a drink and $25+ for an appetizer I like to be surrounded classy, intelligent, unobstrusive staff members who can read their clientele and I expect food that is above average.
Poor Vickers... He really takes a beating on here!
While I don't know the guy, and don't enjoy his bars, I've actually had really good food experiences at Ceili's and Chicago Chophouse. In fact, at the latter, our servers always tend to be unattractive males, and the steak tends to be fantastic. And those onion rings... Oh they are gooood.
Don't get me wrong, there was nothing better than a beer (or more) after work on the Ceili's rooftop patio, and I have often really enjoyed the sushi at Zen 8.
That said, the majority of my experiences at Vicker's restaurants have been sub par because of the terrible service and the expensive, but completely average, food.
I guess that I'm probably missing the point though - as a woman, I'm not really the target audience for his restaurants and bars. And besides, I can't knock the guy too much, since he seems to be doing pretty well with his formula!
I checked it out with my girlfriend this past week. It was the Monday of the long weekend, so it was quite slow. I really liked the decor, and thought the patio was quite nice (where we sat). It was quite pricey. I think the large patio gives the impression that this place is not quite as upscale as it is. We saw two separate groups come in and be seated after us only to get up and walk out after looking at the menu. The hostess didn't seem too surprised when this happened.
Anyway, we shared the falafel prawns as an appy, and we both found them to be quite tasty. The prawns also tasted very fresh. I had the lamb as a main, and really liked it. Well seasoned and prepared, very juicy. The apricot tabouleh was an interesting side as well. My gf had the spinach salad, it looked nice, but she was underwhelmed by it.
Service was friendly, but pretty slow. One server was taking care of most of the patio (everyone but us). It looked like our server had a couple of tables inside, and us on the patio.
Overall the quality of the ingredients were quite good, and the decor of the dining room is very nice. The atmoshpere was hard to judge, as it was not very busy when we were there.
I also agree with the previous comments on the drink prices, way too much!
I'd agree with that, food and drinks were good but seriously over priced. When we went (in July) it was pretty busy, lots of very attractive looking young people hanging out. We didn't have dinner becuz it didn't seem like the kind of place that would do a great $42 steak entree, our apps were fine but 2 apps and 2 drinks were $60. Not outrageous but not a place that's going to become a fave.
Not the most resounding of reviews - how long after the opening did you go? They've been open for 2 weeks now?
And i agree 100% with you on the Voss. But it seems to fit with the overall theme. After all, if you can buy Pellegrino at Walmart, Superstore, etc (which you can), why would you order it at a super exclusive lounge!?
I was there to check it out during their first week, in the middle of stampede, but I didn't eat till my second visit last Thursday.
It doesn't even have to be Pellegrino; there are plenty of good sparkling waters out there that aren't Voss. Oh well, apparently people really like the cool bottles.