This snug, 80-seat restaurant in the Bishop Arts District is the brainchild of chefs/co-owners Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland of Ava Restaurant in Rockwall (Tate chefs at Boulevardier; Copeland cooks at Ava) and Veritas Wine Bar owners Brooks and Bradley Anderson. They describe Boulevardier as a “French-inspired, neighborhood-friendly, chef-driven bistro with a marrow luge sensibility.”
Here’s how to join the marrow luge club: grab a seat at the bar and order the roasted bone marrow. After you’ve finished the gelatinous golden-brown protein, stick the bone in your mouth and the bartender will pour a generous shot of Fernet Branca down the channel of the shank bone. Swallow and listen as the crowd cheers.
But don’t judge the kitchen by the frat-rat frivolity in the bar. Chef Tate puts out serious, thoughtful food, and he has mastered some French classics. The French onion soup is the best I’ve eaten in a decade. Beef bones are roasted, mixed with mirepoix, brandy, and herbs, and simmered for 15 hours. Then it’s all blended with a blonde chicken stock scented with leeks, carrots, and onions to create a deep, rich, earthy broth. The soup is thickened with caramelized onions, nutty Gruyere, and a thick slice of a baguette. Pair it with a Beaujolais or rustic Pinot Noir.
Tate’s bouillabaisse is an alluring yellow-gold lobster broth scented with saffron beneath a gorgeous pile of clams, gulf snapper, prawns, mussels, and baby octopus. Once it’s set before you, it’s difficult to decide whether to taste it or photograph it first.
The beauty of Boulevardier is that you can pick a nice wine and enjoy it over a charcuterie platter, or you can order a full four-course dinner. I loved the variety of The Big Board, a sampling of most of the house-made charcuterie selections, which included smoked pork rillettes with a dollop of sweet onion jam and a spoonful of mustard; a coarse country paté studded with pistachios; pastrami made with beef tongue complemented by fermented cabbage spiked with juniper; and paper-thin salmon accompanied by a celery root remoulade and crème fraîche mixed with fresh dill. The biggest seller so far is their signature cassoulet, a hearty blend of white beans slow-cooked with house-made pork belly and Toulouse garlic sausage and served with duck leg confit.
The space is modern but not trendy. The walls have been stripped back to the original brick. The wine list is imaginative and priced to allow you to drink like royalty. We spotted a rare-for-Dallas Couly Dutheil Baronnie Madelaine 2009 for only $49 a bottle. It’s an exceptional example of Chinon Cabernet Franc. Save a half glass and sip it as you devour the deepest, darkest chocolate tart in town.