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100 short reviews, Boulevard, Chaz, Crossroads Cafe

Paul H | May 18, 200308:15 PM

Boulevard - During the "Belle Epoch" (beautiful time) in France from 1890 to 1914 it is said that 'la joie de vivre' infused everyday life. Boulevard, located in the 1889 French-styled Audiffred Building has taken the architectural hint and constructed a time machine to give you 'la joie de vivre' for an evening. The interior has been transformed into a gorgeous echo of the French Belle Epoch, and even if you never eat here, you owe yourself a visit to look at the tile work. I didn't mind waiting for a table as I was so amazed by my surroundings. The food is even more exquisite than the room. Chef Nancy Oakes likes enumerative cooking. One dish, which arrived on an enormous bowl-like dinner plate, Roasted Pork Loin Trio, consisted of port tenderloin wrapped with prosciutto, plus braised pork cheek with a celery root / apple puree, and cured baby back ribs. A sorbet dessert consisted of three small plates on a larger rectangular plate. The three sorbets were: Mango, Rhubarb Strawberry, and Cherry. Under each sorbet was some fruit: fresh mango, strawberries, and dried cherries. The creativity and execution of the food is excellent. The wine list is outstanding, with an especially good selection of red Burgundy and California boutique wines. Highly recommended.

Chaz - A restaurant in the Marina owned by chef Charles Solomon who has declared that he prefers the intimacy of a small neighborhood place. The night I was there, he was bartending, waiting tables, busing tables, and -- I suppose -- cooking (though I glimpsed a Hispanic line cook through the kitchen door). A lone waitress was the only other staff there. I waited a lot, was served a glass of oxidized wine which I didn't drink, and had some sweetbreads which were nothing special. Solomon has a reputation as a great cook, but as far as I can tell he doesn't have enough critical mass at Chaz to make real restaurant. Perhaps I was there on an off night. I am going to be nice: No recommendation.

Crossroads Café - Cavernous space with a newsstand and bookstore where you can get a simple breakfast or sandwiches, salads, tapas, coffees, teas, wine and beer, soda fountain items, or smoothies. Sit on a stool at a table, lounge in an easy chair or couch, or take in the sun on the gigantic flower-filled patio as the slap of halyards on masts from the nearby South Beach Marina serenades you. A more comfortable place would be hard to imagine. The food's not "great," but life here IS great. Recommended.


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