Eating out: Boulevard, One Market, Boulette’s Larder, Chow

I don’t go out to eat very often, but recently as I switched into a new job and both celebrated and took a quick break, I got to eat out a little more than normal.

First, the benchmark breakfast. I took one of my daughters out to breakfast at the local edition of Chow. Unfortunately it has gone steadily downhill since it started here and the menu gets more and more abbreviated. I realise that this is in part adapting to the small c conservative tastes in our twee suburb, but the underlying quality has also gone down. I had a really rather lame corned beef hash topped with an undercooked poached egg. They forgot the toast. The coffee was lukewarm. Blah.

Around the same time we went to Boulevard with friends for a big deal birthday. We had an amazingly good bottle of plain ol’ country French red before we went out and then a very different plain ol’ country French red at Boulevard. Dinner was very very very good. Appetizer was a trio of ravioli – a wild mushroom one, a squash and goat cheese one and a truly outstanding pheasant one. Main course for me was a nice piece of Kobe beef. Boulevard handled it just right – any more or less cooked and it would have failed. But the real deal meal was the smoked pork. A very good meal that lived up to my expectations (Boulevard is a favorite of mine – consistency is one of their hallmarks and I love them for it).

Then I went into SF for an overnight with Jan and we ate at One Market. Mostly because they had tables at the time we wanted. But One Market exceeded expectations. I decided going in to do something we NEVER do – n ot worry about the money. We had cocktails/aperitifs. Jan had her usual G&T and I had a Manhattan. I would have preferred the G&T but they did the drinks RIGHT. It makes such a huge difference to actually prepare drinks like that right…

Then we had the six course tasting menu. We started with an extra – an oyster in a buttery cream suace with little mignonettes and topped with a touch of caviar. Warm and creamy and excellent. Then the tomato soup. This may have stolen the whole show. Pure melted warm summer afternnon tomato with every spoonful highlighting a slightly different taste from around the garden. Garlic and basil and maybe some fennel and smooth creme fraiche and a bite of hot and bitter pepper, etc. The third item was the least good – and it was still great – a squash blossom and parmesan risotto. I would have preferred a plate of just the crispy squash blossoms I think. Then we had what really was the best dish. Halibut with something. Can’t remember the something but I’ll probably remember the halibut for years. Next – bay scallop wrapped in pancetta on lentils. Absolutely perfect – the lentils matched up to the scallop and pancetta and that’s saying something. Next the strangest item. A piece of seared duck breast on duck confit on piled bitter greens and mushrooms in a huckleberry port reduction. A wild and rich taste sensation. We got our choice from the whole dessert menu – I had the cinnamon apple tartlet and Jan the chocolate cakey thing. Both excellent. Then coffee. Lots of talking. Best meal in quite some time. Service a little spotty – we clearly got the brand new waiter and boy was he nervous! But nothing wrong with it.

Finally brunch the next day at Boulette’s Larder in the Ferry Building. We had already gotten the legendary blue bottle coffee but I got a french press anyway. Jan had the pick of the items: poached eggs on a bed of fava, borlotti, lentil and some other bean with broccoli rabe. It was fantastic. I had a beef tongue hash and eggs scrambled with spinach and onion. The eggs were great but the hash was disappointing – just like Chow (see above). Best hash in memory is at the big Irish bar on Geary near first Ave – not Ireland’s 31, but the other one (Pat O’Shea’s Mad Hatter?) But I make a pretty mean hash…

Anyway, there’s your dining out update…


  1. Shame really since as far as I can tell I made the same number in the whole piece that you made in your two sentences. I’ll try to do better to offend you next time.

  2. Man, that meal at One Market sounds like it kicked butt. I’ve rediscovered recently how much I like working with halibut, too.

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