Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Happy Birthday Robert Burns: Rare Scotch & Rarefied Cuisine at Boulevard 18

Robert Burns Day, a celebration of the Scottish poet's birthday, is a holiday celebrated around the world. This year, I had the opportunity to attend such a celebration at Boulevard 18 Bistro & Wine Bar in New Canaan, Connecticut, and it was a truly special evening of rare scotch and fabulous food. The delights began as soon as I entered the restaurant, with warm greetings, passed Smoked Scottish Salmon Canapés topped with tobiko and capers, and a "Welcome Cocktail" crafted from scotch and black walnut bitters with orange zest.

After mingling for a bit, we settled in at our table, and introductions were made. The evening was led by the impressively knowledgable Alex Meier-Tomkins, Portfolio Manager for Slocum & Sons Importers, with accompaning commentary by co-owners Henry Rosenbaum and Steven Semaya. Excited as I was, the evening managed to exceed my expectations. Our first course, a Scotch Egg with Tolouse Sausage and Brioche Crumbs, was paired with Glen Rothes 2001 Vintage, Speyside. Meier-Tompkins explained that this scotch is aged in sherry casks, which impart a toffee and spice flavor which rounded out this richly savory dish perfectly.

The second course, Pancetta-Wrapped Monkfish with shiitake mushrooms, brussels sprouts, fingerling potatoes, and a scotch-sherry buerre blanc, was accompanied by two very special glasses of Speyside scotch: Glendronach 15 yr, Highland and BenRiach 15 yr ‘Sauternes Cask Finish,' Speyside. Meier-Tomkins explained that the Glendronach had been aged in fresh sherry casks, imparting spicy sweet notes, and it was indeed was smooth and sweet, bringing out the flavors of smoky pancetta and meaty monkfish. There is serious talent in Chefs (and co-owners) David Raymer and Luciano Ramirez's kitchen.

Happily warm with scotch, I dug into the final course, Roasted Venison with haricot vert, parsnip purée, and coffee-chocolate sauce. The scotch pairings for this dish, Meier-Tomkins explained, were extremely rare selections from Campbelltown: Springbank ‘Cask Strength’ 12 Year, of which there are only 48 bottles in the United States, and Longrow 15 Year ‘Burgundy Wood Finish," one of only 19 bottles in the United States. What a treat to try them both! The Springbank was particularly striking when paired with the deliciously rich and tender venison. This was by far the best venison I have ever experienced, and the sauce so good I would have licked the plate if it were remotely appropriate to do so!

Full and impressed, I nibbled on dessert, a rich Chocolate-Fig-Hazelnut Brownie topped with chocolate Ice Cream and whisky (of course) hot fudge. Sipping on the last scotch of the evening keeping with the food centric theme of the evening, BenRiach ‘Solstice’ 17 yr (Peated w/ Port Cask Finish), Speyside the room was treated to a reading of Burns' poem "Address to a Haggis," made extra special by the presence of a guest who offered was able to recite it in the traditional Scottish brogue.

New Canaan has quite a gem in Boulevard 18, and I highly recommend a visit. These types of dinners take a lot of effort and planning to host, and this one was was carried out seamlessly. The food was excellent, the owners enthusiastic and kind, and the service on point. Boulevard 18's cozy dining room is the perfect setting for an intimate night out. With Valentine's Day on the way, they've created another incredible menu; check it out here and make a reservation!

Boulevard 18 Bistro & Wine Bar is located at 62 Main Street, New Canaan, CT 06840
Follow them on Facebook and Instagram


Jessie said...

These look familiar from Instagram! I think I should take up celebrating Robert Burns' birthday....

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Gosh I am super hungry now from seeing these pictures LOL