Friday, July 06, 2007

HFF Has Lunch: Boulevard - San Francisco, Ca

It's time to crack into the heavy hitters in San Francisco dining. Lunch at Boulevard seemed like a good first step.

I know Boulevard is no Dining Room or Fifth Floor, but it's at least a half-step up in classiness (and prices) from the places I've been frequenting in SF.

Once you cross that threshold (I'll call it the Zuni-Bar) expectations step way the fuck up in terms of decor, service, presentation, and amenities. It's silly, but it's true. That's one of the reasons you go out to eat--to have a good time in a nice place.

Plus, it was my birthday. So I wasn't paying.

We were greeted professionally at the door and directed to a nice round table in the back of the dining room. Sunny day. Views of the Embarcadero and the Bay Bridge. Gorgeous.

Boulevard's wine list is a nice mix of major French and California wines with a broad selection of funkier boutique and independent wineries. Prices ranged from the mid $20's to close to $1000. Most of the wines fell in the $50-$80 range, but there was a decent selection below that.

We went with a bottle of Bonnaire NV Blanc de Blancs. Dry, crisp, and very tart. I thought it was pretty fucking great.

First round of appetizers were a couple orders of the beef carpaccio--thin slices of seared beef with shaved Washington summer truffles. Fragrant and meaty. I had the softshell crab, also really nice though the accompanying bacon-cabbage slaw was really freakin' vinegar-y.

Other appetizers were the seared scallops--one of the best scallop preparations I've had. Also a mixed lettuce and nectarine salad that was simple and elegant.

Entrees were also pretty good. Slightly overcooked pork tenderloin with really nice grilled figs and polenta. The stuffed sand dab was enjoyed as an entree and that was mild and flavorful. The lamb burger was a big hit as was the bavette.

Second bottle of wine was a Bourgogne rose that was nice and dry with good fruit without being overly Bandol-y. Not that Bourgogne is anywhere near Bandol, but you get my point.

Desserts were fucking great--I had a neoclassical Rocky Road Sundae: two scoops chocolate sorbet, candied walnuts, and a light marshmallow creme. Angel food cake with ginger and mascarpone was good but light on flavor.

All throughout the meal we had impeccable and unpretentious service in an absolutely stunning dining room. Bussers were quick and efficient (guy cleared our entire table of six in one pass). We never felt hurried and other than taking a little while to get to us at the beginning (that's what happens when the entire restaurant fills up from 11:30-11:45.

Admittedly the food was not particularly memorable (except for the carpaccio, that was pretty distinctive) but it was just a fucking nice place to have lunch. When those things click on all cylinders, the food can get knocked down to 1a on the priorities. It just goes to show that service and decor can't be dismissed, especially when you're stepping things up past the "neighborhood restaurant" level.

It's all psychology baby.

1 Mission St.
San Francisco, Ca 94105
415 -543-6084/

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