Who says you can’t go home again? Bret Bohlmann, chef and owner of Boulevard Bistro, did just that when he opened the doors to his intimate fine-dining establishment in Old Elk Grove in 2006.
For Bohlmann, food is a family affair. Opening what has become a local jewel, Bohlmann and wife Debbie launched the bistro as a testament to the slow-food movement and his passion for “nose-to-tail” cuisine.
“I grew up hunting and fishing with my family,” Bohlmann says. “I have a high respect for animals and fish, and at the restaurant we use 100 percent of the animal.”
This philosophy recently manifested itself in a luscious piece of salmon where every part of the fish was transformed: The filet was delicate and simple in its preparation and adorned with an armor of its own crispy skin; and the bones, including the rich and succulent collar meat, were not cast off into the garbage, but rather transmuted into a luscious stock for soup.
Classically trained in the French epicurean tradition established by culinary legend Georges Auguste Escoffier, Bohlmann graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco in 2000 and honed his culinary chops at some of the Bay Area’s premiere eateries—Cypress Club and Vivande Porta Via among them—before heading back to Elk Grove to unleash what he calls a food revolution on his birthplace.
For Bohlmann, this gastronomic upheaval includes sourcing ingredients, animals and wine from local purveyors no more than 100 miles from the restaurant—a lovingly restored 1908 California bungalow—staying away from “any meat wrapped in plastic” and utilizing only the freshest products.
The bistro seats a cozy 30 diners, and the ambiance is a mix of French charm and laid-back California cool. This combination helped the bistro earn recent induction in Zagat’s America’s Best Restaurants guide. It was also named one of the top 100 restaurants in the nation by the OpenTable restaurant-reservation service. The dining room boasts a huge, roaring fireplace, simple design and an impressive collection of wine—a little piece of France in the burbs. 8941 Elk Grove Boulevard in Elk Grove, (916) 685-2220, www.blvdbistro.com.