Where can a girl get great cassoulet this time of year?
I just checked my four top-level favorite cassoulets in town and none of them are on the current menus.
They would be from Hamersley's Bistro, The Blue Room, Rendezvous Central Square and Pigalle.
My next level of fave would be Petit Robert Bistro and they do have one currently.
Lamb Cassoulet Bean Stew, Grilled Garlic Sausage and Bacon
Sounds good with a nice Cote du Rhone.
With any long-cooked dish like cassoulet, I would always call ahead (if it was the one thing I wanted.) Once it is gone, it's gone until the next day. I've had to make do with something else when I was craving cassoulet because they ran out. Better to know before you set your mouth a-watering.
But, do watch for the winter menus at the other four places.
Shall we start a winter-long Boston Chowhound Cassoulet hunt?
Had the one at Central Kitchen and it was a bit underwhelming. Unlike every other cassoulet I've had it was not stew like at all and didn't even have white beans. It was green and yellow beans with a grisly piece of duck, an overcooked pork loin piece, and a tasty but nearly oppresively garlic-y sausage. There was a nice, slightly acidic and very thin sauce at the bottom of the plate that was the best part of the dish. Maybe it was the style that I didn't enjoy, but it was a poor version of cassoulet in my mind----give me confit.
Also, it was my first time at Central Kitchen and I must say I was hugely disappointed. I had the mussels and the cassoulet, mussels were better but not great---I prefer Taranta's and EVOO's versions. The biggest problem was the waiter, he was just very odd. He knew a lot about wine, but other than that was pretty horrible---surly, forgetful, not timely, and was one of those waiters that thinks he is your buddy so sits down next to you to take your order, which I think is only appropriate at Applebee's and worse. I'll definitely go back for another try, hopefully the waiter won't be there.
The best I've had was at Hamersley's---traditional and delicious, though probably 4500 calories per dish.
That's too bad- a couple of years ago I had a cassoulet that sounds nothing at all like what you are describing. Very traditional, excellent duck & sausage, white beans, etc. Perfect thing on a cold winter's night.
Man, if Central Kitchen is going downhill, that makes me one sad panda. They are one of my faves. Maybe it was just a bad experiment.
I've been a little disappointed with Central Kitchen as well, a few nice bites but for the price kind of a whatever.
I will say I have had the best service I have ever had in Boston at Central Kitchen. Truly perfect waitress. She was such a consummate professional I can't believe that your Applebees style guy worked the same room with her.
I gotta disagree. I am an avid Central Kitchen devotee, so I may be somewhat biased. I have had the "summer" cassoulet (as is says on the menu if I recall correctly) a number of times, as it is one of my faves on the list. True it not like a cassoulet i have ever had. Upon inquiring how a summer cassoulet differs from a traditional one, my server responded that it was kind of a deconstructed cassoulet, not stewed as a traditional one is. All the elements were there (duck, sausage, pork, beans), just in a different composition. I thought it was a great play on words, and really a great dish overall.
I probably would've enjoyed it more if the meats weren't overcooked and/or grisly---the duck breast was particularly difficult to cut and chew.
Without stewed beans, the name doesn't make sense to me, regardless of throwing "summer" on the menu.
The bigger disappointment of the meal was not that it was not the traditional cassoulet that I was expecting, but that it was poorly done in my mind, irrespective of style.
I interpreted (maybe incorrectly) the OP as seeking a traditional cassoulet, or at least a dish with stewed beans, so I wouldn't recommend Central Kitchen's version.
Ten Tables has a white bean and rock shrimp cassoulet as an appatizer that is out of this world. I think it's done in the traditional southern French style, but I'm not sure. It is an appatizer, but my freind ordered a double portion once for an entre.
Oleana did a cod cassoulet that was disappointing. Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square did a poor one as well, though some have liked it in the past. The beans were dry. There was not enough meat swimming around in the sauce.
Here is my past detailed posting on the subject from a year or two ago:
Inspired by favorable notices on this board, last week I tried ES's cassoulet. It did have a few virtues, but it was not a classic cassoulet, a dish I have eaten in France and made at home.
The classic version is a richly flavored smoked bean stew. The smokiness coming from the variety of meats - - variously smoked and braised - - which give moisture and flavor to the beans and the accompanying rich aromatic sauce. In French cuisine it represents a southern (the classic dish being from Toulouse in the southwest) bean-based parallel to two other classic French dishes the choucroute garni (slow steamed sauerkraut with sausage ham hock and other smoked pork meats) of the north-east, Strasbourg, and the more widely distributed pot au feu, the aromatic mixed meat and vegetable cracker jack box stew, equivalent to the bollito misto or tafelspitz. What all of these dishes have in common is a rich broth or sauce combined with strong and assertive meats and condiments. I call it a cracker jack box meal, because one of its appeals is the surprising variety of meats one is likely to find in the pot while dunking for dinner.
The problem with the ES cassoulet is that it ignored its origins. The beans were dry and lacked the necessary sauce. The meat base for the absent bean stew was skimpy. While the dish was tasty, the beans were so dry that they got stuck in the gullet and needed a carafe of red wine to push them on their appointed rounds.
Before dissecting the ES cassoulet in detail, a recognition of its virtues. The roasted pork belly sitting pristinely on top of the beans, was tender, succulent, and well-cooked. Had this dish claimed nothing more than that element it would have been good, though not a cassoulet. The second pristine meat, braised lamb, was also properly cooked and tasty. While not as exceptional as the pork, it was worth eating. The last meat, duck sausage was an undistinguished cheap substitute for what should have been served, duck confit.
Whatever the choice of meats, each meat should represent the tip of a complicated iceberg lurking below. The roasted meats should have a base of similar or related smoked and braised meats. The problem with the ES version is that there was no below, below. The dish was literally flat. Served on a chafing dish, it offered a thin serving of dry beans as a platform for the three meats. There was no stew. There was no sauce. The beans had absorbed some good flavors in the cooking, but in the process they left the dish dry. The beans not the patron got the sauce. The smattering of breadcrumbs are supposed to create a contrasting thin dry crust for the moist sauce below. In this instance they merely reinforced the omnipresent aridity on the table.
I recognize that there is room for variation on the classic cassoulet. Oleana serves its distinctive version that is in some respect is more radical: New England fish substituted for smoked, braised and roasted meats. I am not wild about that dish, but at least it recognizes that a cassoulet is not a cassoulet unless it has richly sauced slowly baked beans. Widout dem beans, it ain't no cassoulet.