Caffe Umbra, South End, Boston
When properly restrained, the aromatic flavor of fennel goes really well with the polleny sweetness of honey. When these two flavors ease against one another, the flowery combination is all that's best of dark and bright (thanks George). That's why I truly loved the sweet fennel bread pudding at Caffe Umbra. Of course the impeccably moist and soft texture didn't hurt. The only tiny minus was the possibility that this dessert had sat around for a little bit, as evidenced by the mostly melted whipped cream, which was a very slight bummer, because the whipped cream was very good. This is one of the most interesting desserts I've had in a while.
Unfortunately, I have less enthusiasm for the savory courses.
Poached prawns came across as slightly clammy. Prawns and the peach slices could have been ever so slightly sweeter. Despite the admirable nuttiness from chopped pistacchios and nice points from thyme to thyme, this appetizer came across as a bit too mild for me.
The roasted lamb was fine but undistinguished, the advertised herbes de provence seemed mostly shreds of parsley. Instead, the spectacular and labor-intensive side of an italian vegetable napoleon stole the show. Layers of perfectly cooked eggplant, zucchini and cornmeal crusted tomato alternated softness with crispness under a well tuned amount of tomato and cheese sauce.
The above with a sturdy glass of very good barbera brought the tab to $50.50 (incl. tax but not tip). Wasn't disappointed, but wasn't impressed by any means except for the wonderful bread pudding,