No. 31: Boulevard
Five years after opening, the luxe lobby restaurant in the Sutton Place Hotel is hotter than ever.
Boulevard’s new lease on life is thanks to Alex Chen, who had one foot out the door after being promoted to executive chef of signature restaurants for future Sutton Place properties…until he vanquished Hugh Acheson on the inaugural season of Iron Chef Canada.
The triumph came easily for the highly decorated culinary competitor, who finished ninth at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or, but had a tougher time putting his mark on a 290-seat multi-purpose (breakfast, lunch and dinner) fine-dining restaurant that, albeit grandly designed in Italian marble, white oak and cream leather, had been shoehorned into an awkward space and hamstrung by a never fully realized seafood focus.
Those in the know would insist on having Chen prepare a special menu of modern classics served tableside—perhaps charcoal-grilled pine mushrooms en vessie (in a pig’s bladder) or celery root en croûte, showered in white truffles with cream sauce. Since Iron Chef, Chen has been preparing those special dinners more frequently and has rolled the tableside service into a regular menu featuring clay-baked salmon, hay-roasted striploin and a 36-hour veal shank. Executive chef Roger Ma, a disciple of Daniel Boulud, imbues an Asian-inflected à la carte menu with impeccable technique and gorgeous plating. Pastry chef Kenta Takahashi, who works tableside with his roll-up candy bar, is one to watch.