Best tasting menus in Boston
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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