Brooks Anderson’s French grandmother loved cassoulet. A war bride who emigrated from Algeria following the Second World War, she also loved travel, literature, oysters, and caviar as a function of good taste, rather than money, preferring to have a little bit of something exquisite rather than an abundance of something mediocre. Today, together with his brother Bradley, Anderson owns and operates Oak Cliff’s Boulevardier in much the same way: a function of good taste, rather than money. Sure, there are bottles of wine that might take a Benjamin or two hostage, but there are also bottles of wine that most patrons who walk into a restaurant serving up $20 entrees could afford. There’s cassoulet on the menu, and grandmère’s mirrors adorning the wall above an intimate table near the bar.
The story behind Boulevardier is almost lyrical. Both attorneys who after a decade of plying the trade found that their passion for food was a stronger draw, the Brothers Anderson opened Veritas Wine Room, as Brooks says “at the worst possible time” in 2008 at the beginning of the recession, although that didn’t seem to stop them from earning accolades. In 2012, they teamed up with chefs Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland to open Boulevardier to significant fanfare.
There’s a definite streak of hospitality that is apparent among the staff. Brooks explained that “it’s easy to get jaded” when one works in food & beverage for a long time, but “having been that guy who makes just enough at a job you don’t particularly care for to go out on the weekends and enjoy some great food and wanting a good experience” kept him grounded when considering the customer experience philosophy at this restaurants.
The cocktail menu is no stranger to whimsy with drinks such as the “Aloe Gubna” (charming) and the “Contrabandier”, a brew of Macadamia Nut Plantation Rum, pineapple, and orgeat for a Mai tai-like sweetness, lime and Lemonhart 151 for tartness, and cinnamon and nutmeg for an eye-opening boldness that satisfies and intoxicates.
It’s definitely very French, but comfortably casual, without the requisite Continental fussiness. Brunch notables include to-die-for pain au chocolat and monster-sized quiche wedges. Evening diners will find new favorites with a brussels sprouts salad and the sleeper hit – a Berkshire pork chop that is the “rib eye of pork chops” with a delightfully sweet red grape chutney, fried cauliflower, and well-spiced sweet potatoes atop savory Swiss chard. Grandmère’s favorite cassoulet also appears on the menu, although the understanding is it’s different from the family recipe.
Takeaway: A little of something exquisite, rather than an abundance of something mediocre. In short, it’s just enough France to be French, but just enough Texas to be comfortable, with good food, fun cocktails, and hospitable company. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday 4:30 – 10. Thursday – Saturday 4:30 – 11. Saturday and Sunday Brunch 11 – 3. Closed Monday. Reservations suggested by calling 214-942-1828. Valet parking available. Major credit cards accepted.