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A French-American restaurant in San Francisco.

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Boulevard: Amazing French-American Food in a Historic San Francisco Building

  • Jul 20, 2009
A few months ago, a friend invited me out to lunch in the Financial District of San Francisco.  "So do you want to go to Boulevard or Cosmopolitan?  Both are equidistant from my office and have pretty much the same kind of food".  Without doing any research, I blindly chose Cosmopolitan solely based on the fact that the cosmo is one of my favorite cocktails (just like Carrie from SATC!).  Boy, was that a ditzy decision.  Not that Cosmopolitan is horrible, but it's definitely no Boulevard, and I never would've known had @jrjohnson not shown me (and @djevoke, too!) the light. 

(By the way, I'm embarrassed to admit that I even suggested a taqueria, deli, pizza joint and Indian place to J.R.'s fine, discriminating palate before he suggested Boulevard.  Forgive me! :P)

The Creators
Boulevard was opened by chef Nancy Oakes in partnership with designer Pat Kuleto in 1993.  Nancy Oakes is a former art student at the San Francisco Art Institute, and amazingly, a self-taught chef who received the coveted James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef in California in 2001.  Her partner's credentials aren't shabby either.  Pat Kuleto was hailed as one of the Top 100 Innovators in the Milennium issue of Time magazine in 2000, has several namesake restaurants in Northern California, and has helped design close to 200 others.  So it's no surprise that this collaboration spawned the Michelin-rated Boulevard.

The Kuleto Design
When I was dining at Boulevard, I didn't realize that it was a Pat Kuleto-designed restaurant, but when I later found out through Google, I could see how Boulevard is totally a Kuleto restaurant.  As a Northern Californian food lover, I know that the name Kuleto is synonymous with lovely, classy decor that can come off as prententious, but isn't actually; Kuleto manages to create a very warm, welcoming and laid back atmosphere.  Since it was the first time Sam and I had ever been there, J.R. suggested that we scope out the place.  It was gorgeous.  We even found the bathroom, which was a trip.  Literally.  We had to walk down two flights of stairs and go through about five doors to get there.  It almost felt like we was going through a secret path to find bathtub gin during the Prohibition!

The Boulevard Building
Pat Kuleto said that when Nancy Oakes saw the Audiffred Building when they were hunting for a location for their restaurant, "She walked right up to the building and hugged it", and that's when they knew that it would be the location for Boulevard.  The Audiffred has a very rich history.  Built in 1889, it was named for Hippolite D'Audiffred, the French architect who created it and whose vision was to create a building that reminded him of his homeland.  The Audiffred Building is one of few structures in San Francisco that survived the 1906 earthquake.  It actually almost didn't make it because, as the story goes, firefighters wanted to blow up the Audiffred with dynamite to stop the spread of fire caused by the earthquake, but a saloonkeeper bribed the fireman by offering them two quarts of whiskey each, and a firehouse cart full of wine. 

Besides having lovely Kuleto decor and a colorful history, Boulevard is also in a great location.  Since the Audiffred is a historic building, in the Financial District of all neighborhoods, it really stands out among an area that has mostly modern skyrise buildings.  It is nestled both in the Financial District, and SOMA neighborhood and is right next to the Embarcadero, so it's a close walk to the Ferry Building, and right across the street are the lovely Hotel Vitale and the delicious Yank Sing.

The Food
The food was amazing.  I loved the combination of ingredients of each dish.  My two favorites being the scallops and the filet mignon.  As you can see below, they're not the biggest dishes, but they are packed with a delicious combination of ingredients, and subsequently, packed with flavor.  It should also be noted that the week that I went to Boulevard was the week that I started eating meat again after 11 years of not doing so, and what a way to start with filet mignon at Boulevard!  Oh, and I can't stop thinking about their truffles and their buffalo mozzarella.  Their desserts are amazing as well.  Funny story about that.

There were about ten selections on the dessert menu.  J.R. thought it would be fun to see if he could figure out what I would've picked out of the ten based on my food reviews (like my French Laundry and Chez Panisse reviews!).  I should add that this is the first time I've ever met and dined with J.R. and Sam!  I had my top two desserts picked out, but narrowed it down to one and whispered my choice to Sam.  J.R. went through every dessert on the menu and thoroughly explained why I would or wouldn't choose it.  He got my first choice (Raspberry, Raspberry, Raspberry) AND my second choice (Vanilla Brioche Bread Pudding) right! :o  I didn't realize that you could get to know someone's tastes so well through their Lunch reviews.  That, or I'm just predictable!

Take a look at the food that we had that night, and you'll see what I mean about Boulevard's dishes having awesome combinations of ingredients and being super flavorful:

Fresh Italian Bufala Mozzarella

Bruins Farms Organic Heirloom Tomatoes, Arugula, Basil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Seared Dayboat Sea Scallops

Fresh Morel Mushroom & Corn Ragout, Ham Hocks, Rock Shrimp Vinaigrette

Pacific Walu (HAWAII)
Wild Caught, Grilled

Sweet White Corn, Gold Chanterelle Mushrooms, Yellow Wax & Romano Beans, Shaved Fresh Italian Summer Truffles, Chervil Beurre Fondu


Wood Oven Roasted Angus Filet Mignon (California)

Fondant Fingerling Potatoes, Blue Cheese, Celery Salad & Crispy Pancetta, Bloomsdale Spinach Wilted with Roasted Shallot & Trumpet Mushrooms, Warm Mustard Vinaigrette, Red Wine Beef Jus

Vanilla Brioche Bread Pudding

Springcrest Yellow Peaches, Brown Sugar Peaches & Mascarpone Ice Cream, Pistachio Ice Cream

Raspberry, Raspberry, Raspberry

Raspberry Sorbet, White Chocolate Mousse, Raspberries, Meringue, Orange Blossom Foam

Shamelessly Repping Lunch at Boulevard

There's nothing like delicious food and wine in great company.  Thanks, J.R. and Sam! :)

I think it's worth mentioning that we showed up pretty late, a bit past 10 PM and they close at 10:30, yet they didn't turn us away.  In fact, they seemed more than happy to have us and service was great. 

The next time I'm given the choice between Boulevard and Cosmopolitan, I'm choosing Boulevard, hands down.

On a related note, apparently Boulevard is so luxurious, and the 2009 Acura RC is so savvy, smart and intuitive, that if you're craving steak, it will recommend "the filet... at Boulevard".
Boulevard Boulevard Boulevard Boulevard

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January 21, 2010
oh yes! pretty good place! Is that Sam with you and JR? Look at you guys sporting those t-shirts! so cool
January 21, 2010
Have you been there? And yup, that's Miss @djevoke herself with J.R. and I. We are totally repping Lunch! You'd match, too ;P
July 20, 2009
What a great review.....love this and the video that goes with it. San Francisco is one of my favorite towns and I'll put this place on my list. I have so much to do when I go there now. Thanks!
July 21, 2009
Thanks, Donna!  San Francisco is one of my favorite cities as well, and I'm so lucky to live right next to it and to have gone to school there!  You definitely have to put Boulevard on your list.  I'm hoping to write more reviews on some of the other great eateries of SF :)
July 20, 2009
bhahaha!!! that is great... I'm smiling ear to ear right now!! Since i'm mentioned in the review... i need to comment: 1. I have a fine discriminating palate?? please... if you make down here we are eating tacos at El Tarasco, Machaca from El Gringo and pizza from Paisanos (ask the marketing team @angelodignacio, @djevoke, @LisaLisa about my pizza dining at Paisanos... actually don't) And no... i haven't written reviews of them yet... damn. 2. The dessert story was great... i do know you that well from reading your other restaurant reviews. 3. I can't believe you found that Acura ad!! and thanks for leaving it at that. 4. The only other part that deserves mention is how this was all part of my evil plan to get a Boulevard review up on Lunch. You didn't disappoint!! Really great review Debbie! I might need to take you to more places so you can review them for me... so much better than i could have done on my own.
July 20, 2009
you beat me to questioning your "fine discriminating palate" ; ) debbie, I assure you... it has it's highs and lows. lol. amazing review as always - those pics are crazy good.
July 21, 2009
hey Debbie... you said the filet mignon was one of your favorites, but you didn't mention that it was the first piece of red meat you'd eaten in how long!?!?!
July 21, 2009
Thanks, J.R.!  And shucks, as I was penning this review in my head, I totally meant to mention that part about the filet mignon.  That's the beauty of the edit button though!   And I guess we'll be seeing reviews of El Tarasco, El Gringo (what a great name for a restaurant, like Gordo!) and Paisanos soon then? :P  I feel so duped by your evil plan! ...Or do I?  Muahahahahaha! :D

Thanks, Melissa!  And thank you for the reassurance, too :P
July 21, 2009
I love this win-win scheming....er...I mean...partnership! Debbie, you get great food and JR, you get to relive the experiences through great foodie reviews!
July 20, 2009
OMG...I'm literally drooling LOL. Maybe I should've waited until after lunch to read your review...It was so much fun meeting you and getting to experience Boulevard with such an amazingly talented foodie/photog. The filet was definitely worth celebrating your recent foray back into being an omnivore. I still laugh when I think of the rundown that @jrjohnson had for each dessert and am amazed that just based on Lunch reviews, he had you nailed! Thanks SO much for writing about this delish restaurant and sharing your photos here. AND thanks to @jrjohnson for showing us the finer things of SF. Don't feel bad, I was thinking of diners too!
July 21, 2009
Well, I hope this review prepared your appetite for lunch!  I had a lot of fun, too, and I agree about the filet.  What a way to end eleven years of not eating meat with a bang!  It was my pleasure writing this... I still can't get this food out of my mind!  I was thinking diners because who knew that there were places like Boulevard open that late on a Wednesday night?  We got there right in the nick of time! :)
July 20, 2009
Wow Devora...great review! I have been to Boulevard and you do it justice. It is a great place to eat or just pop in for a drink. Awesome pictures too. Well done.
July 20, 2009
Thanks, Dan! I can't wait to go back :)
About the reviewer
devora ()
Ranked #4
When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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About this restaurant


Boulevard is a French-American restaurant located in San Francisco, CA.  Boulevard was opened by beloved San Francisco Chef Nancy Oakes, in collaboration with designer Pat Kuleto.  Nancy Oakes is a self-taught chef who went to the San Francisco Art Institute, and has been known for her down-to-earth, yet elegant service and hospitality.

Says Oakes of her cooking philosophy, "When you order a chicken, we actually cook it to order for you over the open fire in our wood-burning oven. There are no shortcuts. Even our pastries and cookies are made in small batches so they have a home-baked quality. We all feel a reverence for the food we use... we choose diver scallops rather than dredged, and fruits and vegetables straight from the farm or the farmer's market. In our kitchen, we all share San Francisco's love and commitment to good food".

Boulevard's building is a 1889 French-style Audiffred Building, and one of few structures that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire.
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Address: 1 Mission St (between The Embarcadero & Steuart St) San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: (415) 543-6084

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