Category Archives: Boulevard San Francisco

Tartine Bakery, San Francisco

Don’t you hate it when something doesn’t live up to the hype? The iPad is something that comes to mind, with the majority of press calling the much-anticipated tech product “overpriced and disappointing.” As a food lover, few things are as annoying as overhyped eats. I’ll be bold and say that local Los Angeles fave Casa Bianca falls under that category (in my opinion folks, so please keep the tomato-throwing to a minimum, thank you!) mainly for their use of canned mushrooms on their pizza. I can’t be down with canned mushrooms. Ever. On anything. I mean, it isn’t like we live in Antarctica where canned mushrooms might be your only choice. El Coyote is another L.A. landmark regularly filled to capacity, but if I wanted gloppy, overcooked Mexican food, I could just get some Taco Bell and put it on a plate (sorry Taco Bell, actually you’re not bad for the late night, post-drinking 4th meal). Although I’ve enjoyed the occasional bowl of tangy Pinkberry, the frozen concoction served in cutesy, colorful shops hardly lives up to the hype. I mean, c’mon people- it’s frozen yogurt, not the second coming of Ghandi.

That said, there are certainly places that deserve every last note of praise sung it their names by devotees the world ‘round. In N Out cheeseburgers with grilled onions are incredible and the maple bacon donuts at Nickel Diner are worth every, indulgent calorie. Ultimately, food is subjective, so it comes down to matters of taste, likes and dislikes, but these two things really do it for me. I recently found another place that does indeed live up to the hype- Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.

J and I went up at the end of last year (again, catching up on my blogging!) and I insisted we go and see what all the internet love was about. The line snaking out the door at 11:00am was a good sign, and we dutifully took our places while I craned my neck above the crowd to see what on earth smelled so ridiculously heavenly. I had to resist the urge to elbow my way up to the front and stick my face on the glass like some little kid, but my eyes darted around the room taking in all of the lovely goodies resting in front of the lucky bastards (ok, too harsh) that were already seated. Let’s take a looky-loo, shall we?

Some berry pastry that every other person seemed to be eating

Giant discs of chocolate chip goodness…

Smaller discs of equally delicious goodness…

Luscious lemon bar…..

Yummy-looking scones……

If you’ve never had a gougere, your life is incomplete…..

The last part of the line runs right along the glass case filled with a gorgeous array of breads, cookies, pastries, puddings, bars and other carby goodies so you have plenty of time to try and accomplish the impossible task of choosing what you will eat. It’s times like those that you wish for a larger stomach (I mean, when do we girls EVER want for a bigger tummy?!) and do the tough negotiating in your mind while the register looms closer and closer. “If I got cookies I could get a few since they’re small….but then I’d miss the bread pudding…but the lemon bars seem really popular so maybe they are the best thing…what’s that berry pastry that looks so good?” But then, you see IT. The sea of fools part (sorry, I’ve had Jeff Buckley ringing in my head all week) and you know you’ve met The One, otherwise known as the Tartine Croissant. OhMyLordWhatAThingOfBeauty. The minute I saw the pile of huge, flaky croissants I KNEW at least one (if not two) were destined to be in my mouth:

Why, hello, beautiful!

J, who feels the same way about bread pudding as I do about croissants, practically dove into the gigantic chafing dish filled to the brim with a peach and blueberry version.

Did the croissant live up to the hype? Let me just say this: Best Croissant I Ever Had. No doubt about it. The outside was shatteringly crisp and buttery, while the inside was layered with soft, nicely baked layers of the same rich pastry. One of my pet peeves is buying what seems to be a beautifully baked croissant only to find a raw, doughy middle. Ew. No raw dough to be found here, as every delicious layer led to another. Croissant heaven.


J’s bread pudding was also stellar; moist, custard-soaked brioche studded with slices of fresh peaches and dotted with blueberries was just sweet enough, letting the fruit really shine through. Our only regret was ordering a cup instead of a bowl of it since it was gone in just a few, short minutes.

J’s cup ‘o bread pudding…

We bought a couple of sweets to take back to our hotel, but I can’t seem to recall what they were because the only things swimming in my mind at the time were the smell and taste of that perfect croissant.

I could take that guy…you distract him while I steal those criossants!

Believe the hype.

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 94110-1528
(415) 487-2600

Boulevard, San Francisco

Ok, I seriously don’t know why I can’t seem to blog more than once a week (ok, ok….once every TWO weeks!). Maybe between work, watching season finales of my favorite shows (LOST, The Real Housewives of NY, 30 Rock), Twittering (or is it tweeting?) and Facebook-ing (uh, is that a word?), I’m just too distracted to hunker down and document my meals these days. It’s odd how guilty it makes me feel. Am I letting down the handful of people who actually read this blog (mom…dad…my cat)? Is FoodBuzz (with whom I just signed up) talking about what a huge disappointment I am to their food blogging community during their morning meeting (not that I know anything about their process but my imagination runs wild)? I still find plenty of time to read other blogs, but even that makes me feel bad- I mean, if Mr. Lebovitz has time to write yet another brilliant book, Matt takes time from his vacation to share this gorgeous steak (or make everyone feel jealous!), and Molly manages to get posts up inspite of the fact that she and her husband spend practically every waking moment working on their anxiously anticipated restaurant, I think I can set my lame list of excuses aside and post a few photos, no?

So here I am, head hanging in shame and back yet again with a vow to be more consistent. Not that you have to believe me, of course. You’ve been burned by my promises before, so I understand if you’re reading this with your arms crossed, nose in the air, thinking, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Don’t you love how my mind deludes me into thinking that people actually care about me updating this teeny tiny blog? I told you, my imagination runs wild……and makes me have visions of grandeur.

Anyway, I did have a wonderful, blog-worthy meal while in San Francisco last weekend. J and I had only one night in the city, so we opted to return to Boulevard where we’d had a perfect lunch over the holidays last year. We wanted to make sure that our sole meal out would be good, and by choosing Boulevard we knew it’d be a wonderful experience.

Boulevard is one of those old-school restaurants in the very best sense of the term. The service is impeccable, the ambience a perfect mix of formal yet homey and the food always prepared thoughtfully and presented beautifully. It always strikes me how many staff are working at the restaurant, but it’s a well-oiled machine and every single server, busboy, manager, chef, line cook and host has specific duties that each fulfill with a great sense of purpose.

J and I decided to order appetizers and entrees each, and then share all four dishes.

Up first, my appetizer: AHI TUNA TARTARE, Pickled Hearts of Palm & Mariquita Farm Carrots, Fried Fennel, Smoked Paprika Romesco, Spanish Almonds, House Made Sesame Olive Oil Crackers

This was very good, although I wasn’t sure what all of the extras (the almonds, fried fennel) really added to the dish. The tuna was ultra fresh and the finely diced carrots and pickled hearts of palm added texture, but the other elements, though nice, didn’t really elevate the dish beyond being a good, fresh tartare.

J’s appetizer: MONTEREY CALAMARI STUFFED with DUNGENESS CRAB Italian Butter Beans with Spanish Chorizo & Meyer Lemon Relish

This dish is what J and I would dub “the winner.” The baby calamari were tender and stuffed with a generous amount of fresh crabmeat. The chorizo added bite while the butter beans added a nice creamy texture. I’d order this again and again.

My entree: CAVENDISH QUAIL (VERMONT)QUAIL BREAST WRAPPED in PANCETTA & SLOW ROASTED LEG Pyramid Ravioli with “Bolognese” & Polenta Fonduta Braised Lacinato Kale with Garlic & Aleppo Pepper FlakesToasted Pine Nut & Parmesan Relish, Roasted Quail Jus

Definitely another “winner” dish here. The tiny breasts and legs of quail were wrapped in a single layer of paper thin, crispy pancetta that didn’t dominate the lovely flavor of the quail, and the ravioli… I’d love a plate of those on their own anytime.

J’s entree: PACIFIC WALU (HAWAII)WILD CAUGHT, GRILLED Herb Roasted Artichoke Heart, Green Asparagus, Pioppini MushroomsFresh Snap & English Peas, Fava Beans, Meyer Lemon & Herb Vinaigrette

Quite possibly the “cleanest” dish I’ve ever had at a fine dining establishment that wasn’t a crudo or tartare of some sort. This fish was gorgeous, firm but slightly flaky and the thinly sliced asapragus and other spring vegetables retained the right amount of crispness. This dish just couldn’t be any fresher and nothing contained a coating of grease, or even oil, really. I’m sure there was some fat used to cook this but none of it was left on the palate. A beautiful example of quality ingredients speaking for themselves.

All of this fabulous food, plus a view of the bay….I mean, it doesn’t really get much better. If you’re ever in San Francisco and you want a sure thing, I’d highly recommend Boulevard.

One Mission St,
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: 415 543 6084

Pre-holiday Lunch at Boulevard

It was a cold, windy day by the water in San Francisco, two days before Christmas. J and I were hungry for something warm, and although we initially thought to grab something yummy at one of the many of the eateries in the Ferry Building, we deemed it too drafty and searched for something cozier. When we spotted the groups of business executives and well-dressed ladies-who-lunch at Boulevard, the famed SF fine dining establishment, we looked down at our casual clothes, shrugged, and decided to take a chance.

We were lucky enough to score one of the seats at the counter right in front of the ovens (talk about cozy!) and had one of the better lunch experiences in recent memory…..wait, make that better meal experiences. Everything from start to finish couldn’t have been more perfect and it was the best way for us to kick off the holidays.

As I warmed myself with the heat coming off the vintage ovens, we sipped on champagne and were handed menus, although from where we sat we could see all of the delicious-looking offerings. I was completely enthralled watching the line cooks put together the most mouthwatering cheeseburgers (clearly their most popular lunch item), juicy medallions of pork swimming in some rich looking sauce and piles of crispy frites. J and I decided to get a mixed green salad, the lobster and white bean appetizer and the Kobe cheeseburger and share it all.

Artificial Intelligence Salad

Lobster and white bean appetizer

The mixed greens were so perfect that it almost looked fake, and each, bright leaf was coated in just the right amount of fruity olive oil and good vinegar. The creaminess of the large, white beans complimented the rich lobster meat and we loved it, but we both knew that the burger would be our favorite.

OK- I mean, what’s NOT to like about this? We savored each bite and almost divvied up the fries one for one since they were insanely delicious and completely addictive. I still dream about them! As we sat there and finished every last crumb, I felt very festive, my face warm from the heat of the oven and the two glasses of champagne. You know when everything just falls into place? It was one of those meals.

I can’t wait to go back!

One Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: 415 543 6084