A lot of my coworkers have been raving about Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge lately. Usually, I do not eat in a restaurant within a hotel unless I am staying at the hotel. Even then, it is rare for me as I usually seek out restaurants in the city to try. However, I was curious so I decided to take my wife there.
Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge is located inside the Holiday Inn and Suites in Gasoline Alley (just immediately south of Red Deer).
The restaurant is adjacent to the front desk. The hotel looked new and that carried over to the restaurant as well. It was nicely lit and the decor was trendy. It felt spacious though seating the 2 of us at a table for 6 probably had something to do with that as well.
Complimentary bread was served.
There were 2 types of bread on the plate. There was french bread and this type of thin, crispy bread. The french bread tasted fresh while the thin, crispy bread was a nice surprise. There was the usual Italian restaurant olive oil/balsamic vinegar combination served in a custard cup. I would have preferred a plate instead as I struggled to get any balsamic vinegar on my bread as the oil sat high on top of the balsamic vinegar. I had tried stirring it to no avail. Looking back, I should have just poured out some of the oil so the oil layer would have been thinner. Nevertheless, nice bread + olive oil/balsamic vinegar wins every time.
We ordered Ahi Tuna Mini Tacos which seem to be the trendy appetizer lately. It was described as containing an “asian slaw” with wasabi mayo and sesame soy sauce.
The tacos came quickly and as popular these days, sat on a rack to keep them upright. I do appreciate this effort as they do naturally tip and spill over when unsupported. Yes, they tasted as good as they look! The shell was not a typical tortilla shell, but rather resembled wonton wrappers. The shells were clearly deep fried which gave a crispy, slightly greasy texture to compliment the soft, cold ahi tuna. The asian slaw added a welcome lightness to the heavier shell. I did not notice the wasabi in the mayo, but the sesame soy was strong. Just as soy sauce goes so well with sashimi in a Japanese restaurant, in this case it matched the ahi tuna perfectly. This was our favorite dish of the night.
The other appetizer that we ordered was the Fresh Bruschetta which was advertised as made in-house on toasted ciabatta crostini.
We loved the bruschetta in Rome and have always dreamed of reliving those meals. These were not the original, but rather a chef’s inspiration. First of all, there was cheese (we believe it was feta cheese) which we never saw in Rome. The cheese was strong and played a significant role in the overall flavor of the bruschetta. Diced raw onion (again not seen before) tucked underneath the cheese which helped cut down the savoriness. Despite my preference for onions to be cooked, in this case, the freshness was appreciated.
Two large wedges of tomato in difference colors completed the bruschetta. I love the extra effort with the colors and the quick sear added to the tomato skin. However, I did not noticed any added charred flavor – it seem more for appearance than anything.
The bread was thicker than a typical crostini which worked well with the cheese presence. I would have loved an even thicker crostini or perhaps a thinner cheese spread.
A pile of arugula was nearby for individual consumption or to add to the bruschetta. I did not use it and my wife ate it all by itself.
I ordered the Bocconcini Thin Crust Neopolitan Pizza. It was a handmade pizza topped with bocconcini, prosciutto, and fresh basil.
We have never had bocconcini and when we inquired about it, the waitress described it as a rich, flavorful cheese. I was sold on the prosciutto actually.
The cheese was very dominant even in the presence of the prosciutto. I loved the way the cheese stretched into strings as I pulled a slice away. It was just like those classic commercials.
The prosciutto looked fresh and was not as salty as I commonly found prosciutto to be.
There was a smear of tomato sauce under the cheese which is on the sweeter than tangy side. I found that I craved the crust end where the sauce to cheese ratio was higher.
Finally, the irregular shape of the pizza conveyed the homemade aspect. The crust was thicker than normal thin crust, but like the thicker crostini in bruschetta, it better served the ingredients, namely the strong cheese.
My wife ordered the Thick Cut Pork Chop with Blackcurrant Jus. It came with a choice of backed potato with all the trimmings, potato of the day (mashed potato according to our waitress), or rice pilaf. It also came with a choice of small Tuscan salad or Chef’s special fresh seasonal vegetables. My wife chose the rice pilaf and vegetables.
This dish, like all the others, was elegantly plated. The pork chop was thick, but not large in size. There was a sear and on first taste, the charred flavor came through. It was also moist which is not an easy task for pork. My wife was very happy with the pork chop.
The blackcurrant jus was sweet, but tart enough to balance. It was welcomed on the pork chop and rice. Speaking of the rice, it was cooked perfectly, retaining a moist, but tender texture.
The Chef’s special vegetables side was a wonderful surprise. We had expected the typical tossed random grilled/steam and sometimes wilting vegetables. Instead, we get this little ceramic container with zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, and some unidentified veggies covered in a red sauce. I thought the sauce had Indian spices, but my wife thought it was tomato only. However, we both agreed that it was an excellent side of vegetables, elevated from an often overlooked side of the plate.
My wife insisted on ordering dessert and chose Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée.
First thing that we look for when we get a crème brûlée is for the golden hard caramel top crust. It was not burnt so that was a good start. The custard was smooth and as always, contrasted well with the hard caramel. My wife loved the chocolate covered coffee beans and found it pleasantly surprising that the coffee beans did not overpower the chocolate.
We enjoyed our meals at Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge and even before the meal ended, my wife already declared that we would return.