After a successful meal at Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge, we were excited to return.
Interestingly, no complimentary bread was offered this time. I am not sure if this was the kitchen policy for the night or if it was the waitress’ mistake.
To be on the safe side, we ordered our favorite dish last time, the Ahi-Tuna Mini Tacos. For those who may not have read my first visit, they were wonton shells topped with seared raw ahi-tuna and filled with asian slaw (pickled cabbage and carrots, I believe). Sesame soy was layered overtop.
Like our last visit, these were delicious. The wonton shell was very crispy which added texture to the soft tuna. Concurrently, the crunchy slaw added a light dimension to the deep-fried wonton shell. Sesame soy rounded out the dish with a full blast of umami.
We also ordered one new appetizer, the Buttermilk Marinated Calamari which are lightly battered calamari served with a cucumber-yoghurt raita and a grilled lemon.
When the dish arrived, our eyes glazed over the beautifully fried calamari and fixed on the charred half lemon. It’s not everyday that we get a charred lemon so we were curious whether the charred flavor will come across when drizzling the lemon juice over the calamari. While the added lemon zest elevated the calamari and gave the little acid punch that the deep-fried guys needed, the charred flavor was noticeably absent. It sounded like a great idea, but didn’t ended up adding to the dish.
The calamari was properly deep-fried, retaining a tender meat, yet a crunchy batter without much grease adhering to it. On taste, I found the batter less favorable than my current favorite calamari dish at La Casa Pergola. The batter used here appeared to be starchier and despite the added lemon juice, could not minimize the overwhelming starchy flavor.
For the dip, it looked just like tzatziki sauce. The menu listed the same ingredients with the exception of garlic. On the menu, the yoghurt was described as Bles-wold which after a little research, turns out to be a natural dairy product company located in nearby Lacombe, Alberta. Kudos to the chef for sourcing local products and reducing the restaurant’s carbon footprint.
As for the term raita (tzatziki is a greek term), I was curious and did a little research as well. Raita is a yoghurt-based condiment used in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh that may include cucumber, onion, pineapple, and other spices. Assuming the chef pared the ingredients down to yoghurt and cucumbers, he maintained the tzatziki nature yet paraded a new name. Taste-wise, it was similar to tzatziki sauce, minus the garlic presence. As I have alluded to in my last visit to La Casa Pergola, I prefer tzatziki sauce as it cuts through the savoriness well.
Between the two appetizers, Ahi-Tuna Mini Tacos won hands down and will likely be the consistent choice for all our future visits.
My wife decided to go with the waitress’ recommendation from the last visit, the Kobe Chicken. It was described as a chicken breast with maitake and shitake mushrooms in their Kobe sauce and a basmati rice pilaf on the side. Seasonal vegetables (the ones that we raved about in the last visit) were included with the dish.
Beautifully plated thanks to the variety of vegetables, my wife beamed when the waitress set the dish down.
The chicken had a charred and caramelized exterior drizzled with what I assume is their Kobe sauce. This was the most impressive piece of the dish as the chicken breast was moist, a feat not often achieved. Of course, to achieve that moist center, the skin was left on. Still, it is always pleasant to taste a moist chicken breast. The exterior caramelization gave flavor to the moist chicken while the cooked mushrooms gave it another dimension of texture. My wife thought this was the winner of the night.
The visually pleasing seasonal vegetables were cooked well, maintaining the natural crunchy texture. However, the sauce that we raved about during the last visit was missing. I suspect the change in flavor was to compliment the dish ordered. The previous sauce could have overwhelmed the lighter style of the dish.
The basmati rice served perfectly as a starch component for the chicken. The long grain nature and the stiffer texture allows the rice to take on sauces (great for Indian curries) and in this case, took on the Kobe sauce. However, my wife did not care for the Kobe sauce as the chicken itself had enough flavor.
I decided to try the chef’s attempt at pasta after having 2 successful main dishes on our last visit. The first dish on the pasta menu, Linguini with Shrimp and Deep Sea Scallops, caught my eyes. We both prefer a red sauce over a white sauce because white sauce usually consists of cream and/or white wine which makes the dish heavy. Here, the option of either a tequila crème or rich tomato sauce was delightful and, of course, I chose the tomato sauce. A wedge of grilled garlic focaccia bread was served with all pasta dishes.
Consistent with all the dishes that we have experienced so far, the Linguini with Shrimp and Deep Sea Scallops was plated beautifully. As they say on those Food Network shows, “You eat with your eyes first!”
Just look a the huge, plump scallops with a beautiful sear across each one. Then feast your eyes on the plump colossal “shrimp”.
The scallops were every bit as good as they looked. Each one was cooked perfectly and held that delicate sweetness one expects from a scallop. This is why scallops have always been my favorite mollusk.
My wife was concerned that the shrimp was undercooked because it was not as opaque as typical. However, all fears were cast aside upon cutting one in half. The shrimps, like the scallops, were cooked perfectly. The slight translucency was due to the thickness and the lack of overcooking. Again, like the scallops, thanks to the size, the shrimp was meaty and held that sweet tenderness that only ones of this size can offer.
Onto the pasta. They were nicely coated in the mildly sweet and slightly tangy sauce. I think the sauce could have been even better if the acid level was turned up a touch more. The pasta itself was overcooked, exhibiting no al dente quality, but in all honesty, I never appreciated the al dente texture. I am sorry, but I like my pasta a bit softer so this pasta dish worked well for me.
The wedge of focaccia bread was sizeable and indeed, wedge-shaped. Its appearance was deceiving as one’s initial expectation would be a hard, crunchy texture like toast. It was not even close and instead, was soft and pillowy. Even the grated cheese stuck to the side exhibited little crunch. Taste-wise, the garlic and butter came through deliciously.
This was another winning meal at Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge. Naturally, this restaurant has jumped to the forefront of our go-to list in Red Deer. We look forward to exploring the rest of the menu to see if they can keep hitting it out of the park.