Sherman's Food Adventures: Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar

Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar

Okay, I'll admit it.  Despite being impulsive with my online purchases and seemingly endless eating adventures, I pause when I see restaurants charging around the $40.00 mark for their dishes.  I guess there is this psychological barrier around $30.00 when the thought of "is it worth it?" creeps in.  That would be the case when Boulevard replaced Fleuri in the Sutton Place Hotel on Burrard.  So it took me over a year to finally visit the place, albeit on my dad's coin (hey, he said pick a place for my birthday!).

So we had to start with their Seafood Tower for 4 (just because it was the most expensive appie on the menu).  We did opt out of the lobster supplement though for an extra $55.00.  However, the tower was more than generous with a dozen Oysters, Wild Sidestripe Shrimp Ceviche, Albacore Tuna Tataki, Read Island Mussel Escabèche, Dungeness Crab Louie, Snow Crab Legs and Wild Shrimp.  The highlights were the fresh, sweet and briny oysters and the large meaty shrimp.  Although I enjoyed the mini-Crab Louie, the bits of lettuce were too small while the crab was in little strands.  The same could be said for the Tuna tataki.  It was buttery and dressed in just enough ponzu, but the pieces were minuscule in size.

As per Mijune's recommendation, we also got the Crispy Chicken Wings bathed in fish sauce caramel and sambal chili with pickled vegetables.  Of course she was right as these wings were addictive.  They were super crunchy with well-rendered skin while maintaining a good level of juiciness.  But the thing that brought it all together was the sticky and sweet sauce that had hints of smokiness and spice.  Despite being seen as a garnish, the pickled cauliflower and turnips provided the necessary acidity to balance off the sweetness.

Onto our mains, Viv went for the featured Lobster Cavaletti with slow cooked leeks, double-smoked bacon, lobster emulsion, shaved black truffle and of course 1/2 lb. of poached lobster.  This was rich and brimming with lobster essence due to the meat and emulsion.  Properly al dente, the cavaletti held up well to the moisture and acted as the perfect canvas for the combination of ingredients including the salty bacon and woodsy truffle.  When presented with the kid's menu, my 8-year old daughter looked at us and exclaimed it was "boring".  So she ordered off the regular menu choosing the Wild Salmon with leek cream, warm celery root/apple slaw and onion cracker finished with dill oil.  As much as the salmon was tender and moist throughout, it had a strange sous-vide texture.  It wasn't buttery and flaky as we would've liked.  Beyond that, the flavours were nice though with subtle notes from the chive butter and leek cream.  The aromatics from the dill oil did not intrude as everything on the plate let the delicate salmon stand on its own.

For myself, I had the Duo of Paradise Valley Pork. For me, this was by far the best dish of the meal.  Buttery tender, juicy and well-brined, the pork tenderloin was perfectly medium.  Combined with the silky and rich demi, there was a depth-of-flavour that resonated its ingredients (red wine, bones and butter).  However, the pork cheek was even better being soft, fatty and tender.  The chanterelles added some Earthy meatiness to an already rich meat.  Even the pomme fondant was expertly prepared being soft while not disintegrating.  With the addition of butternut squash cubes and deconstructed brussel sprouts, there was some vegetable heartiness to go with the meat as well as providing some colour to the dish.  From the best dish to probably the most pedestrian, my mom inexplicably ordered the Farmcrest Free-Run Chicken. Brined and seemingly with a sous-vide texture, the chicken was rather lifeless and devoid of any distinguishing flavours.  On the other hand, the jus made up for it with a rich and full-bodied demeanor.  Furthermore, the braised Swiss chard with bacon was plenty salty and flavourful as well.

My dad had probably our second favourite offering being the Bouillabaisse with lobster, local rock fish, saffron, rouille, gruyère and olive oil crostini.  Typically, we would expect a fairly light and thin broth, but not in this case.  It was slightly thick and full-flavoured with a measured saltiness balanced by natural sweetness and a touch of saffron.  The fish couldn't have been prepared any better being buttery and flaky while the lobster was on point.  My son actually ordered off the kid's menu and when he asked if I wanted to take a picture of his chicken strips, I declined...

For dessert, we shared 2 including the Alpaco Chocolate Soufflé made with Valrhona chocolate and served with vanilla sauce.  This was pretty good with an evenly raised souffle topped with silky chocolate.  While the exterior was lightly crispy, the inside was airy and light while exhibiting appealingly bitter chocolate notes.  The whole thing was still rather sweet especially with the addition of the vanilla sauce.  Our second dessert, the Tarte Tatin was a nice balance of flavours.  It featured gala apple confit atop a flaky and crispy pastry.  With beads of sweet apple puree and tart apple pieces, there was a balanced sweetness.  When it was all said and done, we had dropped almost $450.00 including tax and tip.  Was it worth it?  It really depends on what dishes you order. 

The Good:
- Some real stellar dishes
- Excellent service
- Nice dining space

The Bad:
- Expensive
- Some portion sizes were pretty small

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