Scratch ‘N Sniff: Boulevardier, A Nouveau French Bistro, Is the Best Restaurant to Open in Dallas This Year
We started with the duck ham draped over paper thin slices of elderflower-marinated apples and a dollop of homemade apple butter, then followed with smokey pork rillettes, sweet onion jam, salmon gravlax with celery root remoulade and dill creme fraiche, pistachio-studded country pork pate (wrapped in house-cured bacon), and, finally, thin slices of beef tongue pastrami (with juniper-Riesling sauerkraut and Russian dressing).
You might suspect that would be dinner. You’d be wrong.
At Boulevardier, the new French-inflected place that opens tonight in the Bishop Arts District, that thoughtfully prepared and craveable assemblage is just the Big Board charcuterie plate. And at $22, it’s one of the best deals in town. Like the rest of chef Nathan Tate‘s smart and unfathomably well-priced menu, everything on the board — from the ham to the pastrami, from the apple butter to the spicy mustard to the pickled vegetables that top the pate– is made from scratch.
By now you know the story: Boulevardier is co-owned by Tate and brothers Brooks and Bradley Anderson of Veritas, and chef Randall Copeland of Restaurant Ava. At Boulevardier, they celebrate the nouveau bistro style so popular in Paris right now. Stifling Michelin stars and fussy cuisine are out. Vibrant, homespun cooking is in, albeit with classic French attention to detail and spirit.
Boulevardier may be French at its soul, but there’s not a frite of stuffiness or snootiness (or expense) about it.
The restaurant is small, an irresistably comfortable space with buttery leather seats, modest wood accents, vanilla-colored walls, big windows, a tall bar upfront. It’s a place that doesn’t dazzle; instead, it directs your focus to the food and the people you’re dining with.
I’ve eaten there once, at a small preview last week, and I already love this place. Tate’s take on Provencal cooking and French technique are sublime. Everything I tasted was crafted with a light hand and a confident touch.
I loved the gossamer gnocchi, prepared a la Parisienne with pate choux instead of riced potatoes. I loved the charcuterie. I loved the grilled Lockhart quail with its field pea succotash, pickled watermelon and local feta cheese. The best dishes I ate, by the way, were that charcuterie, the steak frites and a burger. Crazy, right?
First, the steak: slices of medium-rare hanger steak with a big coin of maitre d’ butter, crsipy fries and a drizzle of red wine jus. It’s even better than the hanger steak Tom Fleming used to serve years ago at Central 214, back when he was the chef.
The burger: Tate grinds the meat from grass-fed Hereford cattle sourced from Tate’s father’s Texas ranch. He tops the thick, grilled patty with house-cured bacon, Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, pickles and a bun from Dallas’ Village Baking Company.
I’m not going to tell you about Boulevardier’s onion soup (Okay, it’s a two-day cooking process that involves roasted beef bones, chicken stock and a bushels of onions) or the cassoulet or even the lobster-safron bouillabaisse, but only because I didn’t try them. But seek them out. Let me know what you think.
408 N Bishop Ave Ste 108; Bishop Arts District; 214-942-1828