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A benevolent new Boulevard

16 Jul 2015 • 3 Comments

Note: Now closed.

When I heard Dixon Street had a new addition to the bar scene replacing the infamous ‘Hope Bros’, I thought it would be an impossible task to wipe away the red-bull-vodka stained nostalgia created by the predecessor student bar. However, like most unjustified stereotypes in life, I have been proven wrong.

Having hungrily devoured my way through the drinks and surprisingly elaborate food menu, its fair to say that Boulevard is a new species altogether; integrating class, taste and a wealth of experience to introduce a strong player into Wellingtons' hospitality scene.

One key reason I left Boulevard so satisfied was that all my wining and dining needs were catered for. No easy feat, considering I am one high maintenance (needy) diner. Within moments of being seated in the plush corner seats I was fully educated about the daily specials by my waitress, and had literally salivated enough to place my order there and then. This is no exaggeration - she had just graphically described the homemade dehydrated chocolate gelato, and its very own sister cocktail to match. Despite this I managed to forge composure and get stuck into the menu.

Before I progress any further I need to share an entrée passion which has since completely consumed me: potato croquettes with a manuka honey lemon zest. As a patriotic aioli-with- everything type of woman, a sauce version of my favourite winter drink slightly terrified me. However this flavour combination both permanently matured my expectations of everything potato related in life, and got me excited to try something slightly outside my normal food ordering bubble.

This was just the response head chef, Will Hobby, wanted me to have to his personally crafted menu. In my conversation with him (before my eventual demise into a satisfied food coma), he explained that his vision was 'affordable fine dining'. A phrase perhaps ‘leisurely’ thrown around in the hospitality industry, however Will strictly adheres his menu to this motivation.  Everything that can be made on site is; from the in-house curing of meats, to the creation of literally god’s gift of homemade ice-cream.

All ingredients are seasonally selected, and in support of local providers which is reflected in the quality of the dishes produced. Though he nearly broke my guacamole-heart reinforcing that “avocadoes are not supposed to be eaten all year round”, it showed the chefs commitment to fresh, seasonal dishes rather than mass producing the ‘people pleasing’ restaurant staples we are all too familiar with.

Take one of their signature mains’ the Confit Duck Leg for example. My inner carnivore wanted to solely devour the both crispy and tender meat, however combined with the barley, orange and crispy sage and, finishing off with a duck jus and roasted yams, made it a polished dish that I genuinely took the time to appreciate- rather than my usual routine of see-food-inhale-food.  

Despite my aversion to Astroturf, the décor contributes to creating the classic, relaxed atmosphere.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at the staff. Some of Wellingtons’ big hospitality players and cocktail masterminds have jumped ship to be a part of Boulevard. Nothing says you're are in good hands quite like the bartender hand who has fed you quality liquor before.

With this all in mind; Etta James crooning and seated table service all night long, this four week old hospitality love child is worth a visit, with a ‘strategically’ empty stomach.

Add your comment

  • Will Hobby 28/07/2015 1:49pm (2 years ago)

    Hi Malcolm,

    Thanks for your feedback and sorry to hear about your bad experience at Boulevard. Being a new restaurant we have had our problems but since then we have reworked our fried chicken menu and have addressed these issues. We would like to offer you a complementary dinner to make up for the initial bad experience and see if we can change your mind about us.

    If you are interested please ring to make a booking on 04 801 7126 so we can sort this out for you.

    Yours sincerely,

    Will Hobby
    Head Chef - Boulevard

  • Malcolm Bruce 24/07/2015 9:11am (2 years ago)

    This sounds like a completely different place to the one I ate at last Thursday.

    I popped in to have a drink and kill some time before a gig. The woman behind the bar 'highly recommended' the chicken. At $18 for a half chicken I wasn't sure but I took the plunge and ordered it with the duck fat potatoes. I wish I hadn't bothered it was very average. It was bland and flavourless. It was served in plastic bowls and I was given a plate the size of a saucer to eat off. I have had better chicken meals from KFC and the local take-away - at a third of the price! I haven't felt that ripped off by a food outlet for years. To top it off the woman who came and collected the plate didn't even bother to ask how my meal was. If I am being charged $27 for a meal I would expect the people serving me to show some interest in whether I've enjoyed what I've just paid for and eaten. Poor form.

    Perhaps there are two different menus? If so I was only offered the Tapas version. Maybe there are two different chefs and different service people? Who knows?

    With the outside seating area it is not a bad place for a drink but given that the quality of food in Wellington is so high if this place continues to serve up the crap overpriced food that I was given they won't last long.

  • caroline peren 18/07/2015 3:04am (3 years ago)

    Great review thank you Emma. Every dish you describe sounds fantastic. I'm a longstanding fan of Will Hobby and its great to see him settled.

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