I’ve long been a fan of Boulevard Bread Co. I think they run one of the best breakfast and brunch services in town … and have been doing so for a very long time. Heck, I probably stop at one of their locations at least once a week for coffee. Boulevard is a model of success. Unfortunately, however, a recent party-of-six dinner at Boulevard Bistro (1920 N Grant Street) was filled with a litany of mishaps.
Fantastic appetizers of Baked Pimento Cheese and House Sausage Board ensured that the dinner started off well. The pimento, served warm in a skillet, is one of my absolute favorite meal-starters in Little Rock. It’s creamy, slightly spicy and just a perfect compliment to the accompanying toasted bread. The entire Sausage Board, although lacking the advertised pickled zucchini, was a hit, especially the Texas hot link portion. My mistake was ordering an Old Fashioned to go along with these meal starters. Boulevard’s version is filled high with pieces of ice and consists of a poor combination of ingredients. Within a minute or two, the entire drink was a watered down disappointment.
A few people in our party, including myself, were looking forward to ordering the night’s Special, a red snapper dish that sounded great but was all out by 7 p.m. I opted for the Grass Roots Co-Op Chicken Breast with Armstead Farm butternut squash puree, Brussels sprouts, roasted turnips and red wine sauce. The dish made for a beautiful presentation, and I enjoyed the combination of the sweet puree with the well-seasoned chicken and sprouts, but a good deal of the protein was overcooked and a tad tough.
One of my tablemates had the opposite problem with his woefully undercooked salmon, which was sent back and replaced within minutes. To their credit, both the chef and server were apologetic and handled the issue with absolute professionalism. My brother-in-law complained of a salty steak (Steak Frites) and my wife’s Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich looked to be more bready than meaty, not a good trait for this classic sandwich.
Listen, I’m not trying to paint a picture that this was an awful experience and the meal was a total disappointment. It wasn’t. But there were issues … and the dinner left me wondering if this was perhaps just an off night for the restaurant or something that is happening on a more frequent basis. I’ve had excellent meals at Boulevard Bistro in the past and know that when things are right, this restaurant is definitely in the upper echelon of Little Rock.
But this was not that night.