Tosca (Hingham) The Clam Box and Sel de Terre
- Food4Thought May 9, 2007 04:53 AM
Hit up Tosca in Hingham last Friday night. I had been there once before and wasn't too impressed. I tend not to post about negative first experiences, there are too many variables in play at a restaurant you are unfamiliar with so I tend to give it the benefit of the doubt, it was at the very least worthy of a second shot.
Three of us shared a wood fired thin crust pizza of spicy cappicola and smoked mozzarella. It was wonderful. The crust almost tortilla thin supporting about a14 to 16 inch diameter pie.
I chose a spaghettini app special w/ langoustine in a buttery sauce and the cheese plate (an incredible value for 10 bucks that included a great blood orange marmalade). There was a skirt steak special with pea tendrils that was sumptuous (cooked over the wood grille) and the other entree was a sirloin steak from the standard menu that was good, but no competition for the hanger steak. Professional service. They have four seats which are bar type seats that overlook the kitchen, like Ten Tables, but closer to the action. These can be reserved and are next on the list for a follow-up visit. Very nice, albeit a bit loud when full, space.
The next meal was our season opener at The Clam Box. Two of us shared the three way combo with the large belly clams, scallops and white maine shrimp, onion rings and slaw. For 20 bucks two of us could not finish it. The other dish was the clam strip plate, yes, a blasphemous choice but very good none the less. The Box was rocking on a lovely Saturday afternoon. Good thing I live in Boston or I could easily transform myself into Mike Meyers' Fat Bastard in a short summer.
On Sunday two of us walked around aimlessly between Chinatown and the Quincy Market area clueless as to where we were going to have lunch. I did want to check out the new Wagamama but there was a line so screw that. As it turns out eventually, I usually think of Sel de Terre when faced with no other obvious option and every time I smack myself for not heading to SDT as a specific destination. This place seems to nail it every time for me. I was faced with the pleasant conundrum of not readily being able to choose what I wanted because everything sounded so good.There was a cream of asparagus soup that was sublime with a bit of creme fraiche to give it a pleasant, mild sour finish. The only other soup to blow me away in this manner is the pickle soup at Cafe Polonia. The featured pate was lamb. Incredible, so fresh tasting it was almost like a tartare. The wife is NOT a lamb fan but she attacked the dish with aplomb. Thin slices of baguette, fig compote, the obligatory cornichons, dijon mustard and a nice apple chutney. I had the crab cake salad which included smoked macademia nuts, a single caper berry (drat, just one) shaved fennel and a nicely balanced dressing. The crabcakes had close to zero filler and just enough moisture to bind the wonderfully seared cakes. Upon my urging the Wife had the highly regarded steak frites ( so I could have some of course). As usual the service was impeccable even though I'm pretty sure our waitress was in training. The floor manager had no issue helping to turn tables and delivering meals when necessary, it was fairly busy. You will never go wrong when you lead by example and this is one of the "soft" aspects of SDT that makes it a pleasure to dine there on every occasion. All this and of course the bread basket which is always great.
Not a bad weekend in my estimation.
I've had a gift cert. for Tosca for almost two years. Do they have outdoor dining? What about a bar besides the one in front of the kitchen? Have wanted to try that place forever and will this summer.
BTW, how much were the crabcakes? I so want a really good crabcake.
Wow. Nice eating. I like Tosca. It seems to be a casual place (given the location) but is nice enough for a special occasion (i've used it once for my birthday). The clam box is my favorite of the Cape Ann clam shacks in both quality and quantity of product though for convenience I seem to usually end up at Essex , which is also pretty good. Stilll have nevermade it to Sel de la Terre but your post has inspired me.
Great reviews, thanks. I have been to Tosca several times over the years as my parents live very nearby and overall my experience tallies with what you describe -- some things really excellent, others quite good, always competent service. It does get very loud although some tables are quieter than others and if you ask when you reserve they will reliably seat you at one of the quieter ones.
Joanie, I do not believe that Tosca has outdoor dining unless they've added it new this year.
My goal for the summer (re-inspired by this post) is to finally make it to Sel de la Terre.
There is a regular bar as well which is a decent size. I don't think they have outdoor seating, but I believe they do at their more casual outpost across the street, Caffe Tosca ( I have not been).
The crabcakes were a reasonable 12 dollars or so. This was off of the lunch menu, so that may differ from dinner prices.