When planning our San Francisco itinerary I was surprised to find that most of the top eateries serve only dinner. Initially I was annoyed to have our restaurant quota cut in half but it actually worked out in our favour, allowing us to keep things casual during the day and graze our way across the city. Boulevard was the sole pre-arranged luncheon, made only days before we left London. I had chanced upon a list of this year’s James Beard Award finalists and spotted the nominee for Outstanding Restaurant. A quick nose around their website revealed that not only does it open for lunch, it’s French-inspired 80’s building sat directly next to our hotel. Sorted.
First impressions weren’t great – the decor was tired and dated (to be expected I guess seeing as a criteria for the category was that the establishment be at least a decade old) and despite the bustle, the cramped dining room had a cold austere air about it. The concise lunch menu also failed to excite, although it would’ve been a hard task to tempt us after the bang-up Little Skillet breakfast earlier that had left us contently full.
A starter of Dungeness Crab Stuffed Artichoke Hearts was lacklustre – the gratinated filling claggy with mornay sauce that swamped the delicate crabmeat, masking its natural sweetness. It screamed out for some freshness and acidity, but where vinaigrette-dressed leaves should be was a splodge of artichoke green garlic purée which weighed the dish down even more.
The Seared Monterey Bay Squid stuffed with Creamed Spinach and Applewood Smoked Bacon, Sunchoke Puree, Fennel, Meyer Lemon Relish and Sunchoke Chips fared better texturally but still, nothing special.
My main of Gulf White Prawns and Maine Lobster Fettucini with Roasted Tomatoes, Piquillo Pepper and Salumi Picante boasted bouncy sweet shellfish and a wonderfully fragrant nage but the sad homemade noodles were limp and woefully overcooked.
B’s parmesan-dusted Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Potato Gnocchi, Pork Bolognese, Wild Arugula and Pork Jus was the best execution-wise of the lot – moist pink meat, tender gnocchi and rich luscious ragu.
No room for dessert, we cut lunch short and called for the bill. I left wishing we had just stayed on at Little Skillet and ordered extra chicken, biscuits and a poboy or two. With a menu that simple, the cooking needs to be impeccable for it to shine, but as it was the food felt as old and lifeless as the surroundings, and the aloof waitstaff left a further bad taste in the mouth. An utterly forgettable meal.
1 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
t. 415 543 6084