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sage tonight - longish review

well, after much hemming and hawing we decided to have a celebratory dinner tonight at sage in the north end. we were a party of 5 and had every intention on spending lots of $$ to have a great meal and a great time! to preface, as i sit here at home, i have to say i am a bit disappointed.
our waiter was perfectly competent, but no personality whatsoever. i don't think he said any other words except "what will you have?" whatever, no big deal, it's all about the food, right?

we started with a nice bottle of prosecco, which we asked to have with our apps, but got it right away, which was fine, except that it forced us to order an additional bottle (a wonderful white burgundy) when our apps arrived. there were 5 appetizers on the menu, and 5 of us so we got one of each, and decided to share. they were all quite lovely.. crispy softshell crab was delicious, a deconstructed warm buffalo mozzarella BLT was a great idea, and very good. i was really looking forward to the fried sweetbreads with peas and morrel mushrooms, but the sweetbreads themselves were really tough, if you can believe it, kind of gross i have to say. the tablespoon of peas and morrels were delicious though. the butter poached lobster was good, but i guess not as decadant as we expected it to be, it was very tender, but not a whole lot of flavor. i guess there was another app, but i can't seem to remember it.

on to the entrees...
the birthday girl had striped bass, and wasn't thrilled with it. two of us had the sweet pea risotto. now, $28 for pea risotto, what would you expect? i have to say i would not expect LESS than a cup of risotto on a giant white plate. it was very tasty i have to say, but it was certainly not an entree sized portion by any means. the best entree was the braised chicken, perfectly cooked, wonderfully moist, if just a bit too salty (and i like things salty). we had a great pinot noir with the entrees.

the desserts were wonderful, we had one of each... a light airy, BOOZY rum cake with pistachio icecream, and a very rich and delicious ricotta cheesecake with fresh blueberries. we each got a glass of belle de brillet with dessert.

now the bill was $400 without tip ($80) - which i think was too generous for the very boring, uninspired service... so for almost $100, i had a bite of lobster, a bite of crab, a bite of buffalo mozzarella, one small slice of tomato, a tiny bite of sweetbreads, about 4 peas and two tiny morsels of morrels, a couple bites of salad, about 3/4 cup of risotto, 3 or 4 bites of dessert, 3 small glasses of wine and a cognac. it was fun and overall tasty, but i can't help feeling a bit ripped off.

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  1. $28 for a cup of rice sounds like a rip-off to me under any circumstances.

    1. That does not sound like a good deal at all (regarding the risotto). Their website indicates that the pea risotto was $21 in mid-April and must have gone up since then (or you had a different one), but that is still a lot for 3/4 a cup.

      Did you notice if this was still the gnocchi being offered?

      Hand Rolled Potato Gnocchi, Roasted Mushroom, Truffle Butter - $20.

      1. We were there for dinner too the other night, and I have been meaning to post about it.
        My experience was sort of similar. It was my first time there, and I thought it was a good meal, and nice atmosphere, but nothing really blew me away. Some of the dishes were very good, some just so-so. We had the soft shell crab as an appetizer, which was excellent. My companion ordered the striped bass (with a nudge or two from me, as I love striped bass but there was no way I was going to Sage without ordering the gnocchi.) It was just ok. Sort of bland actually, certainly not memorable. The gnocchi was excellent. Light delicate puffs of goodness --Dax, no, they are no longer serving the roasted mushroom truffle butter gnocchi but instead one with rabbit..and i think w/brown butter sage, and a sprinkle or two of reggiano...though now I can't remember the actual sauce. It was my first time trying rabbit and that's what i remember. It was ok, but honestly, I would have been happier without it --the sauce was delicious and the gnocchi perfect and as far as I'm concerned, the simpler the better. Anyway. Our server seemed fine, pretty cut-and-dry, which is fine, I suppose. But I didn't walk away thinking "I've GOT to get back here." Though, if I'm looking for a good plate of gnocchi, this would certainly be on my list.

        1. I'm sorry this was a bust, as I often recommend this place. I've never had a meal at Sage that disappointed like that one, nor personality-free service. (I also tend not to order fish here; I don't find many Italian restaurants doing fish dishes that wow me.)

          1 Reply
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Maybe it's just a matter of knowing what to order there...
            the gnocchi...maybe the risotto as a starter (vs a main), some of the apps....

          2. I am also a big fan of Sage and have never had a bad meal there. I hope it was just an off night for the service. Saying that, it's hard to have an off night when it comes too pricing and portion sizes.

            1. i really can't say it was a bust, because we had a perfectly lovely time, and as i said most everything was tasty enough, just not great. and again, the service was not bad at all, just no fun, ya know?? i waited tables for many years, so i'm not looking for someone to jump through hoops to entertain me, but a little personality would be nice. especially for an $80 tip for less than 2 hours of work - that's a helluva lot more an hour than i make!!

              the menu online is not the menu they are serving right now - it is actually quite different, there are some things that are the same, but with different sides, etc. and yes i'm pretty sure my risotto was $28, waaaaay to pricey for what it was.

              oh well, we got to spend a beautiful night in the north end and eat yummy cheesecake, could that be worth $100?! why not, i say... i'm not sure i would recommend it though.

              1. Perhaps there was a mistake in your bill. The pea risotto is $22 according to their menu in the window, which in my experience, is the same as the menu in the resturant.

                1 Reply
                1. re: limster

                  perhaps there was, and yes in my experience also. and perhaps i was mistaken, and if i was, i stand corrected and amend my previous post to say that i paid $22 for an extremely stingy portion of rice and peas.

                2. I have never been to Sage but I really truthfully cannot understand why anyone would order rice and peas in a restaurant. Especially for more than $20 (more than $10 even). Rice is cheap and so is peas. Risotto is the most overrated food around. It is utterly uninteresting and tasteless.
                  If you really like this, why not complain when you get less than a cup. After all, probably the ingredients cost less than $3.00!!!!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: emilief

                    ok, i guess i understand your point, although i have had amazing risotto dishes, ie. the beet risotto at l'espalier, but i didn't feel like eating meat last night, and i guess i wrongly assumed that a risotto dish of such cheap ingredients for over $20 would be inspired and filling and wonderful to warrant the high price tag. like maybe a truffle shaving or two, not just a wave of the bottle over the dish. as far as complaining, i don't tend to do it, because, well, i'm not really sure, maybe because i worked in the biz for so long, or because it often makes the flow of the meal uncomfortable.

                    1. re: emilief

                      I'm not personally a big fan of risotto but I have had some very good versions.

                      It is very time consuming to prepare properly. Fresh peas are not cheap; nor is arborio rice. A properly made risotto is far more than a bowl of rice and peas

                      If one were to compare the cost of raw ingredients to the price in a restaurant of a dish; there are a lot of dishes you'd never order.

                      1. re: emilief

                        view from a risotto lover (in fact just finished a plate with seared scallops and wild mushroom). Overcooked it a bit tonight, :-((. At its best it can handle all sorts of accompaniments from veggies, to seafood, to a variety of cheese. Then, if cooked properly, the crunchy, nuttiness of the amboria is fantastic. Then you get to choose a broth to cook the risotto in, whether beef, fowl or vegetable.

                        Its like people who love pasta (me one of them). How can I make it better, tastier more divine. It took me years to understand that different pastas go with different sauces.

                        Risotto is a beautiful friend if cooked properly, mushy rice if done poorly.

                        >$20 for risotto with peas on the other hand is preposterous.

                        1. re: emilief

                          "utterly uninteresting and tasteless" - I could not disagree more with this statement. Perhaps it is overrated, but it's rarely tastless. And it is over-priced at >$20 for less than a cup.

                        2. How much of the $400 was spent on wine? While I understand your feeling in general and I actually agree Sage is on the pricy side, I don't think I have ever spent $80 per person.

                          In general, my general advice is to stick to the pasta dishes at Sage.

                          1. 5 of dined at Sage on Monday 6/10 to celebrate and we were very disappointed.

                            -The waitress we had was very nice, but she was new, so the male waiter there came up to her while she was taking our order and told her loudly that she was taking the order wrong in front of the entire table and that the chef never wants just apps ordered, he needs the ENTIRE menu at once. I thought this was very unprofessional. Wouldnt you pull her aside and tell her so she knew for the next time??

                            -The same male waiter was very rude when we asked about possible vegetarian dishes. Just kept on saying, nope, cant do it, nope cant do it. They were very unaccomodating.

                            -I ordered the short ribs, they were super salty!

                            -The others did not enjoy their meals either with the exception of the person who ordered the gnocci.

                            We were so very disappointed.
                            Wouldnt go back.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: kapkap113

                              sounds like the waiter we had. bummer... i found it unreasonable that we could not order our apps separate from our entrees as well.