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Best tasting menus in Boston

Chaumiere Nov 18, 2006 04:10 PM

Over the last few months I have been trying to get around to as many tasting menus as possible. The key to a good tasting menu is obviously great food, but the wine pairings, the quantity of food, the service and the ambiance are all factors that go into a great dining experience. Most of the meals with drinks were around $400 for two. It didn't seem to matter whether we had five courses or eleven, the check was always about the same. I'll throw out my top 3 and my worst experience and would appreciate it if others could do the same. I ended up trying fifteen different places in Boston and Cambridge.

Top 3:
1) Radius - Awesome food, service, generous wine pairings and the right amount of food so I didn't leave feeling like a beached whale. Printing the menu at the end was a nice touch. I've been back three times in the last few weeks and the place is consistently excellent.
2) Number 9 Park - Alba truffles made the meal and the wine list is full of hard to find Italian and French reds. Service was a little disappointing.
3) L'Espalier - Well executed, almost clinical, French food using the best local ingredients. Only issue was that there was too much of it. The meal took more than 4 hours and at the end we were falling asleep at the table. I'd suggest going for a run after the fourth course, alternatively pack a couple of red bulls. The sommelier really knows his stuff.

I'm off to try Miel at the Intercontinental tonight. I'm not sure if they have a tasting menu. I'm not even sure they have a menu, their website is pretty light on content...

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  1. m
    MRS RE: Chaumiere Nov 18, 2006 05:07 PM

    Pigalle's is amazing!

    1. MC Slim JB RE: Chaumiere Nov 18, 2006 06:08 PM

      I agree about L'Espalier: you're dead by the fourth course. I much prefer the vegetable one, which is equally amazing and much easier to take on.

      I had a superb tasting menu at Taranta, but I'm not sure it's regularly offered. I happened to be a guest of a friend of the chef/owner. His Peruvian-Italian hybrid is unique and original; he's particularly good with seafood. I'm guessing he would do something similar on request.

      A few that I'm interested in trying and have not yet: Ten Tables (a vegetarian one, four courses, $25, looks awfully good); Gargoyles on the Square (a chef I think is tremdously gifted; Troquet (five- and seven-course menus, superb wine pairings in general); Restaurant L (I'm guessing this is the one area where this talented chef is still allowed to go wild, as the rest of the menu has gotten surprisingly muted); and Masala Art in Needham.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB
        word RE: MC Slim JB Nov 23, 2006 06:09 AM

        If by "go wild" you mean serving salad dressing in lotion tubes and by "talented" you mean dipping things in liquid nitrogen. Give me a break. These wanna be Ferrans need to take off their lab coats and just cook food.

        1. re: word
          MC Slim JB RE: word Nov 23, 2006 02:08 PM

          Well, you wouldn't be the first Chowhound to express disdain for the "molecular gastronomists". See:


          My take, extracted from that same thread:

          I find it eminently possible that the culinary mad scientists can contribute something wonderful and delicious to the gastronomic canon. I certainly enjoyed a meal at [Manhattan's] WD-50 on its merits, and didn't find the odd bit of futuristic weirdness particularly distracting, nor did it bother me in philosophical terms.

          Sure, there are plenty of classic dishes that "don't need no improvin' on", but surely you've also enjoyed something in the past twenty years that employed some relatively new technique? Haven't modern refrigeration, freezing, and other food shelf-life-extension technologies immeasurably expanded the palette that pro and home cooks have to draw from?

          Foam isn't bad *per se*, nor anything else in the MG bag of tricks. Some chefs will use it in a good way, others to distract from their other shortcomings and/or beguile the novelty-crazed. Dismissing new cooking and serving techniques outright on the grounds of "purity" or "realness" seems oddly reactionary to me. I will continue to seek out exponents of both the tried-and-true and the bizarre-and-unfathomable. I think it's the Chowish thing to do.

      2. c
        Chaumiere RE: Chaumiere Nov 18, 2006 07:21 PM

        Every time I go by Troquet it looks dead. Wine list looks interesting. You don't often see Chateau D'Yquem by the glass.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Chaumiere
          Rubee RE: Chaumiere Nov 24, 2006 03:49 AM

          Troquet is excellent. I'm sure you didn't realize, but Troquet is actually two floors (dining room on the second), the main bar area on the first floor is in the back (can't be seen from the street). I agree with MC and others who recommend Troquet. I've had one of the best tasting menus with wine in Boston at Troquet, you really should check it out - a very talented chef.

          1. re: Rubee
            Chaumiere RE: Rubee Nov 24, 2006 11:42 AM

            I'm definitely going to try it in January. I feel stupid for not knowing it isn't two floors... No wonder it looked dead to me.

            1. re: Rubee
              sheitoon RE: Rubee Nov 24, 2006 07:39 PM

              I love their mashed potatoes at Troquet. The waiter told me they all argue about who takes the rest of the mashed potatoes home at the end of the night - they're that good!

              1. re: Rubee
                gini RE: Rubee Nov 24, 2006 10:05 PM

                I love Troquet. It's right up there for me for best tasting menu in the city.

            2. j
              jody RE: Chaumiere Nov 18, 2006 08:47 PM

              I had a good experience at Spire about 6 months ago.
              Current menu here

              1. 9
                9lives RE: Chaumiere Nov 23, 2006 01:56 PM

                I have had several tastings at Troquet and highly recommend it. The first time we went with the regular wine pairings and they matched the wine from the by the glass section..not bad. The second time we gave them a budget for the wine..somewhat higher. They brought out an amazing assortment of bottles and 1/2 bottles..well worth the increased price.

                It does sometimes look empty..the dining room is on the second floor and try to reserve a table overlooking the Common.

                As an aside, I've had a few good lunches there..simpler menu..soups, salads, sandwiches.

                1. j
                  jcanncuk RE: Chaumiere Nov 23, 2006 08:49 PM

                  Ten Tables definitely.

                  Lumiere in West Newton - yum, yum, yum

                  For a "shorter" version at L'Espalier, try the Monday wine dinner. I think the best deal in town for the price & less exhausting! Also, the Wed wine dinner at Sel de la Terre (L'Espalier's Jr. resto) is also good.

                  1. barleywino RE: Chaumiere Nov 24, 2006 03:38 PM

                    Surprised nobody has mentioned Clio?

                    1. s
                      sheitoon RE: Chaumiere Nov 24, 2006 07:40 PM

                      I didn't enjoy the food at Ten Tables all that much - a little too comfort food for me. However, I did like that you could write on the table cloth - led to a very fun night out for a girls' night. Also, the service was very good.

                      1. wittlejosh RE: Chaumiere Nov 24, 2006 08:43 PM

                        I had the Clio tasting menu and thought it was just OK. Oringer is a good cook, but I felt like the tasting menu was a little too self-consciouslt avant-garde.

                        1. j
                          Jesseve RE: Chaumiere Nov 24, 2006 09:54 PM

                          Has anyone had the Evoo tasting menu lately? How does it stack up?

                          1. s
                            sheitoon RE: Chaumiere Nov 26, 2006 03:53 AM

                            One place I did NOT like was Les Zygomates wine/food pairing night

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