[Shanghai] The Boulevard
The Boulevard | theboulevardshanghai.com | Dianping
Address: 宝庆路10号7楼(近复兴路) – 7F behind the bookshelf door, 10 Baoqing Rd near Fuxing Rd (徐汇区 Xuhui District)
Date visited: 2013.12 for dinner and drinks
Total bill: RMB¥652 for three people
Will return: No
The Boulevard’s concept is a speakeasy so you are not supposed to be able to find it at first sight (it is behind the bookshelf door on the 7th floor). Inside, the restaurant is dimly lit and very nicely decorated. The identity crisis starts here: is it a bar or is it a restaurant? It is not good at being either; the food is average and drinks taste weak. We kind of paid a ridiculous amount for not much.
I don’t like The Boulevard because I have issues with execution based on my own preferences; if these things don’t bother you, check it out for yourself.
Strike one: water is not free. I can understand if a place offers you bottled regular or sparkling water initially in an attempt to upsell beverages but if that is all they have to offer, that is not acceptable. Restaurants should always offer no charge regular water as an option. Make me want to spend my money, not force me to.
Strike two: bread is not free. If a restaurant charges for bread, it better be the most elaborate bread basket I have ever see in my life. It was not. The bread basket here consists of four pieces of simple rolls; they were toasted warm so I will give due credit. The butter was still hard and cold from being in the fridge and was not brought up to room temperature ahead of time.
I really believe bread and water are commodities that should be complimentary, if not built into the cost of your food. It is a matter of principle. If I have to pay for bread and water, there better be a good reason.
Strike three: long wait for food. I complain only because we were the sole customers in the restaurant on a Sunday night (two more parties came only after we finished our food). We did enjoy having the place to ourselves for awhile.
I ordered a Bathrubbin’ (RMB¥85) with Hendricks, rose syrup, Italian Limoncello, fresh cardamom, tonic, and cucumber while my friends got wine. One of my friends had previously left a tip on Foursquare stating “What is this? Old Fashions for kids?” and I didn’t fully understand the comment until I took a sip of my drink. Tasty but weak.
Lobster Mac & Cheese (RMB¥88)
The lobster mac and cheese was good, but not good enough to overcome the flaws highlighted earlier. For RMB¥88, there was not sufficient lobster pieces (about three or four small pieces in my bowl).
Hearty Beef Stew (RMB¥78)
This was fine, just fine. But I thought the vegetables like potato and carrot could have been cooked a little more. Our royal Asian-nesses wanted some rice to eat with this but we settled for bread.
Bread Basket (RMB¥18)
Though we didn’t agree with the bread-for-pay model, we grudgingly ordered the bread basket as an afterthought because we wanted some bread with the beef stew. It was a disappointing four pieces of bread with cold butter that had not been brought up to room temperature. I always say if a restaurant serves soft butter, it is a sign of attention to small details and there is a high probability of good food to follow. It is not hard to take the butter out of the fridge ahead of time and let it sit. It is also not hard to put it on a heated surface/near the stove/warm it up by candle/etc to speed up the softening process if you don’t have time to wait.
The bill comes in a book. The idea is nice conceptually, just like the rest of the decor but unfortunately not enough to outweigh all the things I don’t like about The Boulevard.