Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar – 845 Burrard St. Vancouver
The last time we stepped foot into this space, it was Fleuri Restaurant – famous for its chocolate buffet, but otherwise not very spectacular (it always reminded me of being in a wedding reception hall, with its carpeted floors and large dessert buffet tables). In July, the restaurant re-opened as Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar, and the newly transformed restaurant has all of the spectacularity that Fleuri was missing.
Aesthetically, the interior has changed from a wedding reception hall atmosphere to that of a modern european hotspot. We loved the parisian-esque white tufted benches in the lower seating area, the contemporary light fixtures, the wall of artisan bread behind the oyster bar, and the display of beautiful wine decanters which served as objects d’arts – to name a few of the many gorgeous and chic details of this new space.
To add to this spectacularity was the service, which we can thank Maitre D Brian Hopkins (Sommelier, B.C. Restaurant Hall of Famer, and Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards Premier Crew Winner) for, as he leads the front of house staff. At times, we felt like Cinderella, surrounded by a team of singing blue birds, ensuring that everything was exactly how it should be. Our glasses were always full, our dirty dishes magically disappeared the second we were finished with them, and I swear that the basket of artisan bread was bottomless, although it’s also quite possible that we just didn’t finish every last bite because we were too busy consuming every crumb of our delicious canapes. We shared the crispy stuffed olives (with anchovies, ricotta, spiced citrus aioli) and white bean dip (with parmesan puffs, olive oil grilled sourdough), which both came beautifully presented, while we sipped on the Fasoli Gino La Corte del Pozzo Pinot Grigio, Benziger Chardonnay, and the Nespoli Prugneto Sangiovese Di Romagna Superiore.
Executive Chef Alex Chen (known for his 9th place finish representing Canada in last year’s Bocuse d’Or culinary competition in France) has created a West Coast menu focused primarily on seafood, with dishes as modern and fresh as the restaurant’s renovations. Here are just a few examples from his menu, which provides something for everyone (it’s also nice to see some creative vegetarian options), using the best of locally sourced items: calamari a la plancha (chorizo, beet greens, panisse, piquillo pepper ketchup), red and white quinoa salad (toasted pistachios, cranberries, ricotta salata, kale, herb vinaigrette), roasted sablefish (gai lan flan, beech mushrooms, shallot, coconut rice, lemon grass vinaigrette), bouillabaisse (lobster, local rock fish, saffron, rouille, gruyère, olive oil crostini), snake river farm berkshire pork chop (pea purée, vegetable fricassée, apple vinegar jus). We could go on, but we don’t want you salivating on your computer screen.
Wine Director Lisa Haley (previously from Burdock & Co.)’s wine list is full of award winning and critically acclaimed wines, including some great local selections, such as the Meyer Family Gewurtztraminer (which was recently one of Anthony Gismondi’s Critic’s Picks) or the Orofino Red Bridge Merlot, which won Gold at the All Canadian Wine Championships 2014. International selections include the Bodegas Naia, Spain (Silver, 2014 Sommelier Wine Award), Echeverria Classic Collection Carmenere, Chile (Berlinger Wine Trophy, Germany), Pierre Henri Morel Signargues Cotes du Rhone, France (Gismondi’s 40 under $40), D’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache, Australia (2013 The Adelaide Review’s Hot 100 Wines).
With amazing service, beautiful surroundings, a fresh, delicious menu, and an award-winning wine list, the Boulevard was a perfect place to Wine Out in Vancouver. We also love the multiple seating areas – including the cocktail/champagne bar, oyster bar, lounge, dining room, private dining room, and outdoor patio – which offers malleability for any type of meeting or wine out event. We can’t wait to come back.