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Boulevard Café: A taste of Lima in Toronto
The Boulevard Café is probably not what most people assume a Latin American restaurant will be like. The décor of this Annex eatery is not heavily influenced by the tacky souvenirs and mildly offensive kitsch that often adorn the walls of other restaurants serving food from the southern half of the Western Hemisphere. Rather, it is tastefully decorated with photographs of Lima (not the tourist office kind, professional photographers' works), which blends well with the Annex clientele of well-to-do families and academics and professionals who live in the neighbourhood. The service sometimes leaves much to be desired, as the owners seek to squeeze out a bit more profit by being woefully understaffed (you cannot be a bartender and a waiter at the same time, unless you happen to be Superman or Speedy Gonzalez). In the winter, the small space and unfortunate placement of the door mean that a draft is inevitable. Nevertheless, the food here is consistently good, with Peruvian dishes that match perfect presentation with exquisite blends of spices. The menu is well-balanced between meat and fish, with the traditional ceviche available, as well as various lamb, beef and chicken dishes and plenty of shell fish. The restaurant has numerous wines, as well as some extremely powerful mojitos.
Favorite Dish: The Parilladas (grilled dishes) are nothing to be excited about, but the rack of lamb is quite good. It is served in a red pepper and garlic sauce that is spicy without being hot. Appetizers are also a good option: the tamal criollo (a cornbread cake with chicken) and the squid are very tasty. Desserts, including the cheesecake, are nice but a bit overpriced.
The Boulevard Cafe: A Taste Of South America
I've never had South American food before; I'm shy of too much spice, but I've had this urge to give it a try recently and what a pleasant surprise it was! My meal turned out to be alot less spicy than I had anticipated, and with alot more flavour than I could have ever dreamed. The ingredients were all fresh, colourful and cooked to perfection, and served by a most courteous and friendly young woman.
I have to admit, the name of the place kind of threw me: it doesn't sound very South American, but once inside the decor of textured wall treatments, Folk Art and traditional textiles, blended with plants, flowers and rustic furniture gave me the impression that I had just stepped off the sunny streets of Santiago and into the inviting kitchen of a friend's home.
Favorite Dish: I didn't really know what to order, so I thought I should start with a "Pisco Sour". I've heard nothing but raves for this concoction which is an incredible sweet and tangy drink from S.A made of Pisco, lime juice and sugar, all blended with ice and an egg white. If anything could be called a "Velvet Hammer", this is it baby,...believe me. ;oP
First I ordered the "Tostadas al Chipotle", which is a garlic bread of sorts made with a Chipotle pepper spread and various herbs, then I went on to the "Peruvian Plate Salad". I've never had a salad like this: steamed vegetables, egg, tomatoes, olives and goat cheese topped with (I'm told) a wonderful Mirasol sauce. From the salad I moved on to the entree,...and this is where it gets really good. The "Camerones Ajillo" was out of this world: delicately spiced, grilled shrimp in a lovely wine sauce, presented with rice and sauteed vegetables so packed with flavour it was like a circus in my mouth! For the wine, I chose a small bottle of Chilean Chardonnay from "Casillero del Diablo" and of course finished the meal with a simple coffee. All in all it came to around $55.00CDN + tip and I'd have to say it was worth every penny.
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