The dishes he’s selected to showcase are spins on traditional favourites. Alongside Nutella-stuffed French toast and Eggs Benedict, chef Chen’s created a Korean rice bowl, an Oyama truffle duck sausage piazza, and Boulevard’s wild salmon chowder, complemented by Bar Manager Justin Taylor’s Hemingway Daiquiri, and signature Bellinis and Caesars.
After admiring a few beautiful Goh Ballet Nutcracker gowns in adjacent Sutton Place Hotel’s lobby, we entered Boulevard’s modern dining room that features sleek, white and bronze lighting fixtures suspended from classic rounded moulding on the ceiling and mounted as wall sconces.
The Bellini (circa 1940 Venice, Italy; $14) contains a lovely soft peach that lingers on the palate. It’s created using Beefeater gin, peach liqueur, white peach purée, Bittered Sling Clingstone peach bitters, sparkling wine, and a large violette-infused ice cube that remains at the bottom of the glass.
Hemingway daiquiri (circa 1935, Havana, Cuba; $13) is a delight, mixed with Havana Club 3 Year Old añejo rum, maraschino liqueur, fresh lime, fresh grapefruit, and cane sugar syrup. This drink is obviously heavy on the alcohol, but the lime and grapefruit cut into it to create a refreshing cocktail.
Wild smoked salmon chowder with fennel pollen, dill, and Cherry Lane farm potato ($12) was creamy and delicate with chopped clams and salmon accompanying the potato, with a not-too-heavy consistency typical of many chowders. Make sure to enjoy some of the freshly-baked baguette that’s ideal for dipping.
Chen’s red and white quinoa salad is tossed with toasted pistachios, cranberries, ricola salata, and kale in a herb vinaigrette ($16) and is delightful, especially with my choice of having added a 5 oz. portion of seared Albacore tuna ($10) on top. This makes a perfect meal-sized salad and was appreciated along with sips of the bellini’s peach notes. In addition to Albacore tuna, you can top the salad with hanger steak, roasted prawns, or seared scallops ($12, $12, and $15 respectively).
My husband enjoyed a glass of Benzinger 2012 Chardonnay ($18.50 glass/$74 bottle), a complex chardonnay with light apple and peach tones, accompanied by only a hint of oakiness. There’s a good selection cocktails, wines, aperitifs, and non-alcoholic drinks on Boulevard’s menu as well.
The Korean rice bowl is a perfect blend of sweat and sour kimchi with warm sesame-flavoured sticky rice, perfectly cooked free-range egg, and silky textured, mildly-seasoned wagyu Galbi sausage with hot sauce hidden underneath. Something totally different, making for a tasty Korean/Japanese fusion izakaya experience.
Pastry chef Jason Pitschke creates scrumptious desserts worthy of saving your appetite for. He makes each of his creations look effortless, and they arrive at the table ready to indulge in. We noticed that both desserts (there are three in total available during brunch, the third option being a red velvet cake) contain complex layers of flavour.
The Calamansi tart ($12.50) has dollops of pineapple meringue, custard, and “breton” style shortcrust, however that thin v-strip of lemon provides a bright, tangy burst on the palate, and underneath that square, a thin layer of caramel, the perfect finish to a shortbread — and a most wonderful surprise to discover after this lemon-forward treat.
My husband ordered the opera bar, likely dedicated to both opera and chocolate lovers. This dessert has mocha and chocolate written all over it, created using Michel Cluizel Mangaro milk chocolate with 50% cacao from Madagascar, containing notes of exotic fruits, honey, and caramel. Add to that an espresso buttercream in the middle, finished with Gianduja (an Italian sweet chocolate spread invented in Turin) sorbet and dollops and trimmings of more chocolate. This enjoyable ending to his meal was heightened with a good, strong double espresso.
The ceilings are eye-catching with white moulding containing interlocking illuminated rings designed by Vancouver artist Ian Marsh. The twisty DNA-like room divider allows the space to flow while creating a division between the two main rooms.
The bar holds court off to one side, with an adjacent (past the wine glass stock) marble counter-topped oyster bar, backed by a wall of box wooden shelves stocked with fresh breads of all shapes and sizes. Cream leather banquettes and black comfy chairs with wood tables are spread throughout the spacious restaurant. A couple of private rooms off to the back have been hosting parties and holiday gatherings on a regular basis, according to Boulevard’s manager.
Lounge music streaming over the speakers was set to a low volume, allowing for conversation to be heard at a reasonable level.
Ladies doing brunch at a table next to ours had just removed their fur coats to reveal pearls and weekend finery while a small group of friends at another nearby table were celebrating a birthday. This is a classy place to cap off the weekend or to celebrate a special occasion, with a well-tuned, attentive staff, enjoyed over cocktails and a fine meal.
Boulevard offers brunch on weekends from 11 am to 3 pm. The restaurant is located at Sutton Place Hotel, 845 Burrard Street in Vancouver.