Boulevard Cafe

Written by Gwen Ashley Walters Category: Food Reviews Issue: February 2009
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Boulevard Café serves quintessential French comfort food – not surprising, given the owners are seasoned French restaurateurs. Seafood inspired by the Riviera, Brittany-style crêpes and nightly specials from other French regions, like a haunting Pyrénées-style boudin noir (blood sausage), add glimpses of excitement to an otherwise solid yet predictable menu. The whole scene is casually bucolic – in a good way.

Choose from 10 appetizers, like baked mussels on the half-shell or oysters (raw or baked), or pick from a plethora of steamed mussels as long as you plan on sharing. The mussels marinière ($11.90) arrive in a red-enameled pot filled with tender, plump mussels (about two dozen) steamed in a skimpy broth of white wine, shallots and parsley, accompanied by a wire basket of thick-cut, salty fries. The steak ($15.95) and the roasted chicken ($11.25) are basic but tasty, and both come with nondescript skinny fries. The steak is a juicy, pan-seared strip loin cut, served with a choice of three sauces: garlic and parsley butter; béarnaise; or green peppercorn sauce. The half-chicken arrives with crispy brown skin, moist dark meat and a breast that’s just a tad dry, but the underlying butter sauce comes to the rescue.

Rotating specials are presented at lunch and dinner. The boudin noir ($16.95) dinner special isn’t for everyone, but I adore it. This particular boudin is imported from France and, unlike its stateside cousin, contains no rice. It is unscrupulously soft and rich – almost too rich. I almost can’t finish the generous portion unless I give up the traditional accoutrement of perfectly creamed potatoes.  Crêpes come savory or sweet. The savory are dark from buckwheat flour while the sweet are made with white flour. The Nutella crêpe ($4.75) is artfully folded over a warm pool of hazelnut-flavored chocolate sauce, but the lacy brown crêpe is not quite cooked through on either my first or second trips. (We’re told it comes that way.) The crème brûlée is perfect, though. Thick vanilla cream topped with a gossamer layer of caramelized sugar – it doesn’t get any better than this. I can almost hear Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose” now.

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