First Taste: Boulevard Is Bigger, Better Than Ever

Boulevard Bread Co. has always been known for exceptional food. But for most patrons, it was always a nice place to grab a morning pastry, a quick sandwich at lunch, or an occasional take-out dinner. Of course, it’s always been a go-to for fine breads, cheeses, and other specialty grocery items. But most people never considered it an option for a sit-down, full-service dinner…that is until the recent opening of the expanded space at the Heights location, Boulevard Bistro & Bar. Having been served nothing but excellent eats from the fine folks at Boulevard in the past, it was only natural to expect great things from this newly opened restaurant…and on a recent visit this past weekend, great things were exactly what we found here.
It was an early dinner for us last Saturday when we walked into the full but not crowded bistro. The restaurant walks a fine line between casual and classy…you’ll feel comfortable here in jeans, but you won’t feel out of place if you decide to go a bit more dressy, either. A couple could easily make a romantic evening out of it, but kids would not be too out of place if you wanted to drag them along.
We started the evening with an order of Baked Pimento Cheese. This was an easy decision for us, as Boulevard has always produced my favorite pimento in town. It’s simple and slightly spicy, and here they spread it into a shallow ceramic dish, top with bread crumbs and bake it off in the oven. It arrives hot and gooey, totally spreadable on the accompanying toasted baguette. It’s a wonderful starter, and not an ounce was left on the table.
Entrees came next, beginning with a large bowl of Pappardelle Bolognese. It’s a generous portion, with long ribbons of housemade pasta, big chunks of beef meatballs, and bits of fatty pork belly, all sitting in a stew of carrots, tomatoes, cream, and garlic, and topped with pecorino cheese. Based on that description alone, you probably don’t even need me to tell you it was excellent…but it was excellent…and I devoured every last bit of it, mopping the very last drop up with a crust of the complimentary bread. I only would have liked my pasta a bit more al dente, but that only a minor weakness, and did not distract from an overall fantastic dish.
Even better was the Parisian Gnocchi. Here was a bed of soft, delicate gnocchi that quite literally melted in your mouth, topped with mushrooms, sautéed spinach, truffled cream, and comte. It was just a beautiful plate of food…rich and creamy, but not too heavy. The truffle was present but not overpowering. Another dish that will leave you wanting to lick your plate.
The dynamic duo of Christina Basham and Sonia Schaefer have certainly taken Boulevard to the next level here. Clearly, the addition of Chris McMillan as head chef was a smart one, and the kitchen and wait staff already appear to be handling themselves like a seasoned crew of restaurant vets. We only scratched the surface of the menu here, and I expect we’ll find many more outstanding meals here in the future.
(Boulevard Bistro & Bar serves lunch daily, with a full-service dinner Monday thru Saturday. Hours are Mon-Wed 7 am to 10 pm, Thur-Sat 7 am to 11 pm, and Sunday 8 am to 3 pm. For more details on the new space, including a look at their full dinner menu, check out our First Look here.)

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