24 December 2010

Tonight's episode: Boulevard of Crab Cake Dreams

           Christmas Eve Eve is a special day in the Pork Fed household. My father, the Senior Chief, was born on that day, back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. I was able to lure him and my mother, Mrs. Doubtfire (because of the accent, not for abnormal hair growth or lack of humorous jokes) down from the Flowertown in the Pines for dinner and a meander through the Festival of Lights.
            Considering the Senior Chief's taste in food (favorite restaurant: Golden Corral) we decided to head over to the Boulevard Diner on Maybank Hwy (http://www.dinewithsal.com/boulevard). I have long been a fan of the Dine With Sal family of restaurants, and Boulevard Diner delivers on a consistent basis. My first piece of advice would be to arrive early.  The parking lot was apparently designed for matchbox cars and fills up fast. The building itself is an old house with a 50s air about it. The place just feels homey.
             My second piece of advice is to consult the specials boards. They are strategically placed around the restaurant and are the greatest invention since fried butter. I've always found it annoying to have 13 dishes read off to me in a rapid fire memorized mess. 
             Mother, being the true southern Scottish woman she is, asked me to split the Fried Green Tomatoes ($6) served with a shrimp remoulade. Perfectly battered, juicy and sweet, these 5 little morsels of Southern charm would have been far more fun to spend an hour and a half with than Kathy Bates.  My only request is they offer a second sauce. I prefer a little spice with my tomatoes. Senior Chief, his heart set on seafood, ordered the Crispy Fried Oysters ($9) with the chipotle cocktail sauce. I'm a big fan of oysters in all their forms; raw, steamed, in a shot glass full of vodka, but I have never been a fan of fried oysters. Texturally it reminds me of chewing on dirt covered slugs. Now try to eat one without having that picture in your mind. I tried one for the sake of the blog, and the breading was beautiful. I quickly washed it down with some water.
             The Girl had an afternoon luncheon, so her appetite was far below normal. She settled for just a main, the Crab Cake Sliders ($9) served with remoulade and french fries. The fries are thin style, like a substantial version of the golden arches' flagship grease sponge. The Crab Cake itself is wonderfully, if incorrectly, done. I have always been an advocate of lump crab meats oil, then hits plate. Boulevard does what we call a Boardwalk crab cake. The crab is mince and has vegetable filler. Don't get me wrong, the taste is excellent, it just makes me wish Maryland was a little closer.  The Girl devoured hers, minus the bun, and has never regretted the 7 or 8 other times she has ordered them. 
                                            
        Mrs. Doubtfire's eyes grew as large as dinner plates when she saw the Catfish Fish 'n Chips ($11 on the specials menu).  These turned out to be two massive fillets of golden breaded catfish, served with slaw, tarter sauce, and french fries.  If there is one thing Boulevard has taught me, it is to trust the batter. If they can get a batter on it, it's worth a try (even the oysters). The catfish had a nice firm texture that soaked up the vinegar like me at an unattended bar tap. If you want good fish 'n chips, these don't let you down.
      Senior Chief decided on the Crab Cake Dinner ($14) served with two sides. Imagine the sliders, but larger, and no bun. Thanks for the diversity Dad. 
       I went to the specials board for my entree as well, picking the Pecan Crusted Pork Loin ($14) served with grilled asparagus and sweet potato hash. The three tree trunk sized asparagus spears were well grilled, if a little too thick for my taste. The sweet potato hash was a revelation. The sweetness of the potatoes, red peppers, and onions wasn't overwhelming and left me wanting more.  The crust on the pork was a perfect blend of seasoning and crunch, giving the pork a needed textural element. The letdown on the dish was the pork itself, which was overcooked. Pork loin can be a very fickle meat, and it gets chewy when it is over. I just wish more people would realize pork can be pink; it's not going to kill you.
        Dessert at Boulevard is a point and eat affair. A large glass case displays the various cakes and pies available by the slice. Senior Chief chose the cheesecake. I'd tell you how it was, but he wouldn't spare me a bite. He did allow the Girl a bite, and her eyes rolled back a little. If not for the late lunch, I'm sure she would have indulged. Mrs. Doubtfire and I split the red velvet cake. The cake itself was a little denser than I am used to from red velvet, but the cream cheese icing was utterly decadent. I really think I could have eaten a tub of that icing, sugar induced coma be damned. 
        What I like most about Boulevard Dinner, as with all the Dine With Sal restaurants, is the home like feel. These are classic homemade dishes executed with a deft hand. When you want a well prepared meal without breaking the bank, Boulevard Dinner should be high on your list.
Ambiance: 5/5
Service: 4/5
Food: 7/10
Value: 4/5
Overall: 20 out of 25, an affordable weekly dinner destination with enough diversity to keep you from getting bored. 







Boulevard Diner on Urbanspoon

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