West Loop restaurant BLVD is refreshing its role. Effective immediately upon opening for indoor dining August 12, BLVD will become BLVD Steakhouse, a classic American steakhouse inspired by Hollywood’s Sunset Blvd—the golden era’s famed strip of dining and entertainment establishments.
“Feedback from our guests over the past three years really influenced our decision to evolve”, says Frank Callero, co-owner of BLVD Steakhouse with his wife, Kara Callero, and cousin, Steven Zaleski. “More and more steaks were being ordered, so we gradually increased our steak offerings on the menu. We also began highlighting other traditional steakhouse dishes, which were frequently selected as guest favorites. It all just started to click: let’s own the steakhouse moniker and take it to the next level with a menu refresh.”
The new menu from Executive Chef Johnny Besch pays homage to classic steakhouses of a bygone era. Nods to the 1950s include throwback dishes from Sunset Blvd restaurants like Onion Soup Fondue, which was on the original Hamburger Hamlet menu and a Holiday Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae from Schwab's Pharmacy. Updated versions of traditional steakhouse offerings include Shrimp Cocktail, made new again by Besch with horseradish panna cotta—a technique he learned from Alain Ducasse—spicy tomato gastrique, and lemon confit; Lobster Thermidor, a whole Maine lobster entrée that regularly appeared on menus during the mid-20th century; Steak Frites, featuring a 10 oz. prime bavette from Allen Brothers served with hand-cut fries and bone marrow butter; and Spinach Rockefeller with housemade maple bacon and Herbsaint absinthe—Besch’s take on creamed spinach.
“The new menu really represents my cooking philosophy: sophisticated simplicity. I like to take simple ingredients and preparations and elevate them with classic techniques,” says Besch. “It’s been fun to riff on traditional steakhouse dishes and make them my own.”
The evolved cocktail program features classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Boulevardier and Daquiri, but with a BLVD Steakhouse spin. The Old Man and the Sea, for instance, is Bar Lead Robert Shamblin’s version of a Daquiri made with three types of dark rum, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, lime and milk—the milk being used to clarify the rum, making the cocktail color clear.
The wine program, curated by Beverage Director Ted Rink, is a 2020 Wine Spectator Award winner for the ‘World’s Top Restaurants for Wine’ for the second year in a row. On the wine list, Rink highlights a mix of producers from established regions and lesser known producers who are experimenting with new growing methods and production techniques.
BLVD Steakhouse will open for indoor dining on Wednesday, August 12. Days of operation will be Wednesday through Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday. Seating will be limited to 25% capacity as mandated by the city of Chicago.
“We’re lucky that our expansive dining room as it was designed already allows for social distancing, with wide aisles and multiple booths that provide the space and privacy people are looking for right now,” says Callero.
Additionally, all required and recommended precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) will be implemented, including QR codes for contactless menus. Some of the changes already planned lend themselves well to the current climate, like a hot towel cleansing service provided before all seafood dishes that are intended to be eaten with your hands.Takeout and delivery will continue upon opening with the new menu.