“On this weekend night, folks everywhere are toasting one another. Servers sashay around the dining spaces briskly and purposefully as the evening promises to crescendo every 15 minutes.”
A private room just off the entrance to Boulevard Five72 is set for a large party. Plates, glasses and votives sit pert on a long banquet table. As we’re shown to our “}e21`perch in the L-shaped first-floor dining room, a table for 10 catty-corner from ours is being readied for guests. Before long, on our other side, a few tables are being pushed together by the busy floor crew. I ask a server how many will be in that party. He shrugs and says, “Either 10 or 12. We’ll find out when they get here.” Party Central in Kenilworth. Boulevard Five72 is fit for celebrations and, on this weekend night, folks everywhere are toasting one another. Servers sashay around the dining spaces briskly and purposefully as the evening promises to crescendo every 15 minutes. Everyone and everything is dressed for the occasion. Approach the restaurant, which sits stately on the main thoroughfare that lends its name to Boulevard Five72, and you might think it looks something like a French chateau. Inside, there’s a bit of a French provincial feel to the décor, dominated by shades of beige and wood tones. It’s an appropriately restful backdrop to the constant-motion dining scene. Snag a bottle of wine from the list and settle in. Chef-partner Scott Snyder’s menu is amenable to almost anything you might be in the mood for. I’d suggest going for one of the value-priced red wines from Spain and letting it do-si-do with the fava bean ravioli nestled in a rustic rabbit ragout. It’s the standout dish on the menu of the moment at Boulevard Five72—a partnership of stalwarts from the south of France that have long earned their stripes at the table. Snyder finishes the starter with an ethereal pouf of truffle scented mascarpone that provides yet another flavor bridge from rabbit to fava to pasta. Or you might consider the crab cake, which here comes accompanied by a coarse chop of a salsa, starring chickpeas with a cameo of fruit. The punchline of the appetizer? A flash of sriracha sauce, moderated by avocado. As I ate, I thought there’d be nothing wrong with giving that hot-fun sriracha more of a chance to dance around the plate: Between the sweetness of the crab and the earthiness of the chickpeas, the dish has the foundation to stand up to more heat. Go for it. Shrimp punctuate a chunky corn chowder that benefits from a trio of compelling accents: smoky bacon, celery root and a touch of turnip. It’s a solid soup—one worth exploring all summer long—as Snyder and his kitchen crew riff on the shellfish and switch around the accenting vegetables to stay in season. One vegetable I wish they’d switch out is the red flannel hash that’s made from beets and plated with the grilled salmon. The grainy mustard and pesto-like spinach purée adds spot-on counterpoints to the moist fish, but the root vegetable clashes with the salmon. A basic strip loin, meanwhile, showed the kitchen’s precision, and the rich reduction of red wine swirled on the plate was all the steak needed. But a haystack of onions that looked more frizzled than frittered, as the menu described, proved an amiable companion, so we gobbled it all up. Why not? Steak and onions are a heavenly marriage. As are shellfish and arborio, the basis for Boulevard Five72’s risotto. It’s heavy on the truffle in its lobster broth, which I know draws applause from a multitude of diners impressed by the presence of extreme luxury. I’m a little less drawn to the use of truffle oil than most; I think it overwhelms shellfish, in particular, keeping its unique character in the closet. We added character to our entrées in the form of two sides well worth the supplement. Spanish chips are one of the planet’s most enjoyable foods. Here the thick-cut potato slices are crisp and crunchy and judiciously dusted with pimenton and salt. Good greens are spiced just right—and right for just about any of Boulevard Five72’s entrées. My suggestion re the greens? Serve with a wedge of lemon to give diners the option of adding a little zing as desired. There’s citrus aplenty in the steamed pudding cake, an elegant finale served with a side of blackberry sorbet. An updated strawberry shortcake was underscored by a faint drop of balsamic vinegar and partnered with a creamy, subtle basil gelato. A favorite at my table was the dark chocolate-caramel tart, with its delightful sprinkling of fleur de sel and a cloud of mascarpone mousse offered as a finishing flourish. As we wound down our dinner, servers were gearing up for yet another large-party table. Amid all the activity, you might notice a slight slow-down between appetizers and main courses, and maybe your entrée plates are left to sit a tad too long after you’ve set down knife and fork. But the crew, largely, performs admirably. The crescendos continue at Boulevard Five72. EDGE
Boulevard Five72 572 Boulevard, Kenilworth 908.709.1200 Dining hours: Lunch, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; dinner, from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday. Brunch is served Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Appetizers range from $14 to $16, with salad and soups in the $9-to-$12 range, entrees $22 to $38 and sides $5 to $7. Desserts are $8.