Let’s talk about the ghost town that turned into a cosmopolitan, mini-Manhattan, mecca now known as Water Street Tampa. Jeff Vinik, owner of Tampa Bay Lighting, and Cascade Investments, headed by Bill Gates, are the driving forces behind Strategic Property Partners and the vision for this metropolis.
Early in the planning phase, Next Level Brands team – Jeff Gigante, Joseph Guggino and Andrew Wright, knew they wanted to be a part of this exciting new chapter of the Tampa Bay market, and Boulon Brasserie is exactly the modern luxury restaurant to fulfill that goal. As Guggino explained, the motivation is to create atmospheres, and menus, based on where they would like to dine themselves, and Boulon Brasserie is that restaurant.
Upon entering Boulon, you are struck by the modern, and inviting, interior design as envisioned by the Canadian designer Atelier Zebulon Perron. The spacious, 7,000-square-foot restaurant has high ceilings and an open floor plan that create an airy atmosphere making you feel as though you’ve stepped into a European cafe. Throughout the evening, the lights and music are timed to create mood and ambiance. The seats by the window offer an excellent place to watch as people parade to, and from, Amalie Arena.
While food is an integral part to any restaurant, the story that goes into the development of the dining experience is also important, starting with the name of the establishment.
Gigante played with variations of spelling and definitions of the designer’s name Zebulon and discovered that “boulon” is defined as bolt – as in nut and bolt, however the connection goes further. Boulon is adjacent to Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, or the Bolts as fans often call them, and Vinny LeCavalier, an investor, played for the Lightning. The hexagonal shapes are incorporated throughout the space, emphasizing the nut and bolt design of a modern brasserie.
Boulon Brasserie has a culinary team of all-stars bringing the posher dining experience to Tampa, led by Chef Habteab “Hab” Hamde, former house chef at Bern’s Steak House, executive pastry chef Summer Bailey, also previously from Bern’s and Heather Rivas, the general manager and sommelier, formerly from Husk, in Savannah, Georgia.
There are many beautiful cocktails to satisfy the posher palate. Amalie Crusta, a blend of 18 Remy 1738 Cognac, citrus juices and pineapple rum topped with “Lightning Blue” sugar, is the perfect libation to celebrate the Lightning.
The menu is a curated selection of classic French dishes, with modern Creole twists, that are sure to please even the poshest palates. The blue crab beignets elevate the appetizer category with the fluffy dough balls filled with blue crab and topped with a spicy remoulade. The poached egg on top of the frisée salad blends with the bacon vinaigrette to create the perfect bite. The French Onion soup oozes cheese and is the staple for any brasserie. The entrées feature popular options such as Coq au Vin, Steak Frites and Bouillabaisse. The Gnocchi Parisienne blends tomatoes, squash and potato dumplings with a delicious garlic white wine sauce. The Scallops Risotto has a sweet and smoky flavor enhanced by Vadouvan, a French-style curry. The Bananas Foster Bread Pudding finishes the meal on a decadent note, worth every bite.
Next Level Brands continues to make its mark on the Tampa Bay dining map. By the time this article publishes, Boulon Bakery will be open to the public from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring pastries created by Summer Bailey. Union New American restaurant is opening in the Westshore business district in Spring 2023.
Boulon Brasserie is at the heart of the Water Street dining experience. Note, reservations are recommended and if you know there is an event at Amalie Arena, add 10 to 15 minutes for travel time when making the reservations.♦
Follow Barbara Lynch at @posherpalate @ambassadorbarb
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