This hotspot in the heart of downtown Tampa was a bit confusing at first. Packed with people at 8PM on a Friday night with not one table available for walk-ins. The decor was French bistro inspired, and the menu included some French classics, like coq au vin and bouillabaisse.
We ordered escargot and lobster bisque for appetizers. The escargot had the classic puff pastry on top of each in a garlicky butter sauce. The bisque was creamy and decadent and served with wild mushrooms and a lobster claw. It was quite possibly the best lobster bisque I ever tasted.
For a main course, we ordered the snapper amandine and the scallop risotto. The risotto was perfectly cooked, and the scallops were plump and seared to perfection. The dish was topped with a generous pour of extra-virgin olive oil and the presentation was beautiful. The snapper was crispy on the outside and flaky inside with a nutty, buttery crust. Compliments to Executive Chef Habteab "Hab" Hamde! It was simply sublime.
Our waiter was professional, knowledgeable, and on top of his game. He he recommended Tradition, a French Sancerre that was fragrant and crisp, and paired perfectly with our dishes. This wine was quickly added to our wine shopping list.
And let’s talk about the dessert. For a palate that prefers savory over sweet, we went crazy for the dessert. Executive Pastry Chef, Summer Bailey, came from Bern’s Steakhouse a few minutes away. She is the perfect addition to a concept that apparently knows what it’s doing. Our confusion about the direction of the restaurant’s concept in the beginning of our experience quickly faded with a superb meal and followed with the perfect dessert.
We, of course, had the classic crème brûlée. It was made with real vanilla bean that came through with every bite - exquisite. The waiter insisted that we have two desserts, and we were so glad he did. The second one was a warm butter cake drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and topped with candied lemon zest. Yes, olive oil and it was heavenly. We simply could not stop eating it.
Everyone loves surprises, and this restaurant definitely surprised us. The food was sensational, and the service was amazing. The next time we visit Tampa, this one is definitely on our list for round two.
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For menu and reservations, visit www.boulontampa.com