The historic Henderson Water Street District continues to offer more reasons to visit, and now the opening of BLVD Grille is yet another excellent enticement to head out to “Old Henderson.” This new concept by FINE Management, best known for its PWKY Tavern concept, is a more upscale venue, with an American-style menu of steaks, pastas and seafood with some international flavors thrown into the mix.
Comfortable Surroundings at BLVD Grille
Set in the former space of Hardway Eight, there are four distinct environments, each offering a different vibe. The dining room’s décor features old school elegance with blue velour booths, an epoxy floor, faux trees, brown and black chairs, dark wood paneling, hanging Edison lights and a semi-private space with a long table large enough to seat a dozen is located in a nook at the far end of the room.
One bar, situated just off of the dining room, is lined with large screen TVs and offers bartop gaming with 15 video poker, blackjack, keno and slot games. The wine bar is in a semi-secluded room, and a lounge area with a tile wall and comfortable couch and chairs is where local musicians perform and also where a functional garage door brings natural light and fresh air when opened.
Executive Chef Josh LaQuet
The food menu is crafted by FINE Entertainment Executive Chef Josh LaQuet, who brings more than 20 years of culinary experience. In addition to BLVD Grille, he is responsible for overseeing menus and curating culinary experiences for nearly a dozen restaurants in FINE Entertainment’s portfolio, including several PKWY Taverns and The George Sportsmen’s Lounge, the newest concept coming to the Durango Casino & Resort.
LaQuet hails from Kansas City, Missouri and before joining FINE Entertainment in 2019 worked for the Bravo! Cucina Italiana and Brio Tuscan Grille restaurant chains for over a decade, working his way up from line cook to executive chef. He also previously owned his own food truck called Bar-B-Qusion in Orange County, California, serving up smoked meats in a variety of dishes such as tacos and rice bowls.
Varied and Somewhat Multi-Cultural Food Men
Living in a multicultural household helped shape Chef LaQuet’s knowledge and approach to cooking as he uses his background in Latin, Italian and American BBQ cuisine to bring his take on elevated American pub fare. Examples of the international influences on the menu are the Crispy Shrimp with Gochujang-lime drizzle, pepper relish, Asian slaw and scallions; Chicken Linguini tossed in pesto sauce with crispy prosciutto and arugula; and Seared Shrimp Ravioli with ricotta cheese, lemon tomato cream sauce and crab salad with arugula, grape tomatoes and lemon.
The shareable menu features Cheeseburger Egg Rolls with ground beef, caramelized onion, pickles, American cheese and bistro sauce; Shrimp & Crab Dip with focaccia toast points; Street Corn Nachos with tortilla chips, pepper jack cheese sauce, roasted corn, black beans, roasted poblano peppers, pickled onions, Cotija cheese, Tajin and cilantro; and Herb-Crusted Salmon Salad with field greens, romaine lettuce, cabbage, sliced asparagus, grape tomatoes, red onion, toasted sesame dressing, shoestring potatoes and Cotija cheese.
There is plenty of classic pub fare on the menu. I was quite impressed with the quality of the 14 oz NY Strip served with mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, grilled asparagus and garlic herb butter, which priced at $30, is so good and in such a large cut that it qualifies as a true bargain. The 14 oz Chile-Rubbed Pork Chop is also accompanied with Yukon Gold potatoes and asparagus, and is a good value as well at a mere $18 price tag.
A handful of decadent desserts include house-made Peach Cobbler with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, Godiva Double Chocolate Cheesecake and Berry Panna Cotta with berry gelee, vanilla panna cotta, fresh berry compote and fresh mint.
Brunch, served Sat.-Sun. from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. offers an assortment of breakfast favorites like Steak and Eggs, Classic Breakfast (two eggs any style, bacon or sausage, breakfast potatoes and choice of toast), Build-Your-Own Omelet and Breakfast Biscuit Sandwich; and some unique selections like Hot Honey Chicken, Biscuits and Gravy and Cinnamon Apple Pancakes.
The beverage program is highlighted by 20 taps pouring beers from several local breweries including Bad Beat, HUDL, Mojave Brewing and Tenaya Creek. A quite respectable whiskey list contains the likes of Frey Ranch Bourbon, Four Roses Small Batch and Angel’s Envy Port Cask Rye.
Lovers of cocktails are covered, with several signature cocktails such as the Purple Mule with Ketel One, lime, Monin Lavender, ginger beer and lavender bitters; and BLVD-E-A with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, sweet vermouth and Campari. While not a huge list, the wine menu has about 40 quality bottles mainly from California offered in pours of 6 oz, 9 oz or by the bottle such as La Crema Chardonnay, Rutherford Hill Merlot and Stag’s Leap Hands of Time Red Blend.
In addition to the extremely reasonably priced menu, there are two other great deals. There’s the $12 lunch offered Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for either a half salad and half sandwich or one of six entrees including Shrimp Scampi, Chicken Parm and Steakhouse Burger with fries. And the happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. in the bar or high tops in the lounge has ½ off several quality bottles of wine (like Daou Cabernet and Duckhorn Chardonnay) and six appetizers including Beer-Brined Chicken Wings, Cheeseburger Eggrolls and Crispy Shrimp all priced at $5 each.
Hats off to FINE Entertainment for not only providing yet another upgrade to the Henderson Water Street District, but an elevated take on pub grub at a quite reasonable price point. BLVD Grille is open daily for lunch and dinner and weekend brunch.