Last night was the première of Boulevardier, the new French bistro from Veritas owners Brooks and Bradley Anderson, chef Randall Copeland and chef Nathan Tate. The scene was set with French linens, crisp white walls and rich woods. The players were all dressed in tailored, plaid button-downs and freshly pressed aprons.
A lengthy wine list and curated list of simple cocktails act as curtain call. Wines by the glass range from $7-$18, and cocktails, like the Belle Femme I tried, are all around $10. The menu is decidedly French, featuring classic dishes like Bouillabaisse, Cassoulet, Croque Monsieur and French Onion Soupe. But those are just the tip of the menu iceberg, or glaçon, if you will.
We began with a salad starring creamy burrata and supported by slices of grilled baguette, fresh pesto, pistou, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sel gris, arugula and bright red Lemley's tomatoes ($10). A selection of raw items like oysters and shrimp, plus an impressive showing of house-made charcuterie all make for a compelling opening act. But you might not even need to choose if you go for The Big Board ($22), a combination of just about everything on the charcuterie section.
But last night we chose the Bay of Fundy Gravlax with celery root remoulade, pickled mustard seeds and dill crème fraiche; and the Beef Tongue Pastrami, with juniper-Riesling sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Time for act two.
Boulevardier offers a lot to choose from as far as mains, like classic Steak Frites, Chicken Boulevardier and even chef Tate's namesake burger. Scene-stealing Gnocchi à la Parisienne ($16) had the potential to be heavy, but is full of crisp, bright green vegetables and enough lemon to make it light enough for a summer meal. Dark brown in color, each pillow of dough was like a mini croquette. Fancy Pants Meatless Monday, anyone?
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At this point in your meal you might be thinking it's time for a curtain call, but stick it out because the dessert menu is full of stars. A Dark Chocolate Tart ($8) sits in a pool of salted caramel, its intense richness cut by a topping of Chantilly cream. And scene, indeed.
Walking into Boulevardier, located at 408 N. Bishop Avenue in Bishop Arts, is like ducking into a bustling café in Paris. And I, for one, will be back for an encore very soon.