Let's begin with the cocktails.
The drink is always some combination of cognac, rye whiskey, absinthe or Herbsaint, and Peychaud's Bitters and distinguished by its preparation method. Most use the absinthe to "rinse the glass" leaving just a hint of the licorice based spirit. Others use it as an ingredient. This historic cocktail actually predates the Civil War. As such, it makes me feel young to order one....
|Day Boat Scallops|
One of the items we sampled were some glorious Day Boat Scallops, sprinkled with what may have been currants...
Scallops are an interesting phenomenon. They are uniform, sweet, succulent little mouthfuls of crustacean that when prepared correctly can be relied upon to be familiar. Not exactly the same, mind you, but like bacon, there are qualities one comes to expect, if they are done properly, which there were. So it's often going to be about the "trimmings" and though I don't remember the specifics, I do remember that the mouthfeel of each mouthfull, was sensational. Crunch, acid, texture and seasoning. All present.
At this point we are all pretty blissed out, munching and chatting. Drinking and chatting. The couple we were dining with were spectacular dining partners, as they enjoy sharing and tasting as much as the BH and I do. We had joined a long time friend (who just so happens to be our Dentist, so her nickname is easy). Her husband joined in the fun, a delightful fellow who is a really bright guy and a camera expert who tried valiantly to teach me a little bit about how to use (as opposed to abuse) my fancy equipment. He didn't exactly fail, but I seem to be fancy camera equipment challenged. I have a good eye, so when I'm actually successful at getting the equipment to capture the image I've framed, well at least you can see what I saw.
The Dentist and the Silicon Valley Executive were delightful company. I think we had smiles on our faces all evening. We enjoyed the most stimulating of conversation. We ate the best food that can be had and we drank some really amazing wines, as it turns out the SVE being as knowledgeable about wine as he is about cameras. I need to bring him with me when we eat out more often, as it's like having a world class sommelier in my pocket. Although I love wine, I'm not able to internalize enough information to really select a bottle confidently, unless it's a specific year and vintner I'm already familiar with. The SVE just went to town with the wine list. And if you are forming a mental image of one of "those" wine guys, don't. SVE was eloquent in his selections without pretension. He treated the staff and the balance of the company at his table as though we were equally expert at wine selection. My kind of people. What he knows (and it's just about everything) he expresses with a gentle and thoughtful confidence. I have a bias. I like smart people who are also nice.
|Abalone, buttery, soft and delicious|
Another dish that stood out was the Abalone. The abalone was prepared perfectly. Not sure if many of my readers are familiar with this cantankerous sea urchin, but it can be rubbery and foul if not done just so. This was buttery and soft, just the way it should be prepared. My childhood was spent eating varieties of fresh abalone pounded and laden with butter, it is one of the reasons I am so fond of the dish, it is wrapped forever in the distant memories of childhood and visits with my father. This was a memorable sampling from my favorite time warp, with a fresh new take on it.
This was a masterful meal. The chef at Boulevard is Nancy Oakes, and she knows her food. We wrapped up our meal with several delicious desserts. Beautifully plated, and just the right amount of sweet to reset the palate and close out the evening.
Dining out with friends is a social convention that goes back to the ages. A tradition experienced and carried on for centuries, if not millennia. From the banquets of Ancient Rome to modern day anywhere, we humans seem to love experiencing flavor together. Experiencing life together. I often wonder if it is because it is one of the ways we can feel connected. As separate beings, we are always alone. When we experience the same flavors and foods, we momentarily breach that separation as our palates share the same sensations. Even though we experience some tastes differently, we are sharing an experience in a unique and powerful way.
I suggest that the next time you seek a place in San Francisco, you consider Boulevard. I believe your experience will be memorable. So drop by, and check it out. They still have Abalone on the menu, so you are in luck! Bon Appetit!
One Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Table size: adequate (not an issue)
Ambiance: quiet easy to hear
Chef: Nancy Oakes
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