Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Boulevard is not that Bad

Brunch yesterday was one of the most refreshing meals I've had in a long time. I ventured to the northern section of Boulevard to try another new restaurant with "kitchen" in the title. Kitchen 64 used to be Zippy's, which I never noticed nor visited, but the building is now cheerful and welcoming. My friend and I sat on the beautiful patio, which looked brand new, with comfortable wrought iron furniture, pale green pillows and large umbrellas. Somehow the brick wall surrounding the patio blocked out breezes and sounds from the busy, adjacent Boulevard.

The entire meal can be described in one word: pleasant. Our server was warm and efficient in the number of times she came to the table. A mimosa cost $4.50 (or $11 for a pitcher!) but it came in the same size glasses as our water and proved to be quite tasty. I consider it a good sign when I have a hard time choosing one thing from a menu. Kitchen 64 has an extensive, diverse brunch menu, and I doubt I would have been disappointed with any of the options. Greek Nachos, Mini Burgers over French Fries, an Asian chicken salad, and all of the breakfast items were abandoned for the Avocado Melt and Cold Plate.

Each sandwich and salad comes with sweet potato fries, french fries, or pasta salad. Luckily we were both enthusiastic about the sweet potato fries, and they certainly didn't let us down. Thin but not too crisp, the fries were lightly salted and not at all greasy. The lovely sweet potato flavor was not overpowered by oil, and the fries could go well with several of the menu items.

I've had all-veggie paninis that have been too vegetable heavy or skimpy, but the Avocado Melt ($6.95) was nearly perfect. The avocado was sized so that it was prominent but not dominant in the sandwich, and the provolone cheese complemented the other ingredients (cucumber and I can't remember what else) but wasn't oozing everywhere. Most importantly, the bread was grilled and had some crunch, but it still had some give when I bit into it. It drives me crazy trying to eat sandwich bread that crumbles into pieces because it's so hard.

As far as cold plates go, Kitchen 64's is the best I've seen. There's a choice of tuna or chicken salad, and pasta salad, cole slaw, fresh fruit and Greek yogurt with honey are all included. It sounds like a lot of food, and it is, but it makes the dish worth $9.95. Both the pasta salad and cole slaw were lightly dressed; the pasta salad was made with feta cheese and multi-colored spiral noodles. I thoroughly enjoyed mixing red and green grapes, cantaloupe, and pineapple with Greek yogurt and honey. Perhaps the most remarkable component of the plate was the chicken salad, which had small pieces sun-dried tomatoes, cucumber and green pepper in it - an interesting variation on a dish that is usually standard and not always desirable.

Dining at Kitchen 64 is difficult only because all of the food that comes out isn't yours. I watched several hearty and attractive meals go by, and saw many expectant and pleased diners when the plates arrived at their respective tables. The interior of the restaurant looks equally as casual and aesthetically pleasing as the patio. A large, funky bar and a refrigerator with revolving shelves add character to the laid-back atmosphere, and I noticed that the crowd ranged from young to old. Everyone seemed content at Kitchen 64, whether they were eating or talking or waiting tables. I can't ask for much else, and I can't wait to go back.

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