South End openings
- MC Slim JB Feb 11, 2008 12:19 PM
If I'm not mistaken, it looks like Banq, the upscale French/Indian fusion place in the Penny Savings Bank (next to Union) has been doing mock service the past couple of nights; I"m guessing their opening is imminent. Very cool-looking interior design.
Haven't figured out where Estragon is going in: perhaps the space on the Washington St side of Harrison Ave near Rocca that was originally slated to be the Franklin Cafe II? It's billed as a "1930s-style tapas bar with a 17-seat bar, a salon-style lounge, and communal tables". Intriguing. Spring opening target, so expect summer.
I believe it is 700 Harrison in the base of the Condos 2 blocks passed Gaslight same side of street on the way to Mass Ave. Also heard a Starbucks is slated as well though wouldn't be surprised to hear they walked away having recently announced the closing of 100 US locations.
BTW Banq opened to the public this evening.
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Banq opened to the public last night. The staff was a little nervous and overly polite, but we had a great time. Food is excellent, French with an asian twist. The menu has asian amuses (tapas), appetizers and entrees. The amuses are bite size portions, but work well as an appetizer. I had the duck confit, which was served as a sort of dumpling. The pea soup was really good as well. As an entree I had the sirlion. Pretty straightforward but well prepared. The pineapple spring rolls with wasabi and blue cheese icecream were excellent to finish the night. Overall, the food is pretty good. The interior design of Banq is very cool. The birch wood slatted ceiling is like nothing I've seen before and hard to describe. The idea is that the whole place resembles sound waves.
I'm not sure when the official opening will be, but I recommend to give it a try soon, before the masses come in.
I took a peek at the menu last night, too, though I didn't stay. Prices are a little better than I expected (entrees low to mid twenties), and the fusion cuisines involved are a bit more diverse: not just Indian, as I anticipated, but also Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Thai, maybe more. It very much appears to be working from a Western (read: French) viewpoint, with flavors, sauces, and ingredients borrowed from the Eastern Hemisphere.
Specialty cocktail list looks interesting, though on the sweet side, using some spirits I haven't seen before (a ginger creme liqueur in a Gin-Gin Mule variant), a fair amount of herbs and fruits muddled in.
Wine list is impressively balanced, not crazy-expensive, with a refreshing lack of emphasis on cliched American wines. Lots of New World stuff and less frequently seen regions of France, Spain, and Italy. I think the most expensive still wine might have been a $170 Barolo. Plenty of bottles in the under-$50 range.
It is a mighty cool interior design. The ceiling reminds me a bit like a forest canopy rendered abstractly in blond wood that has been vertically cross-sectioned and had alternating slices removed. Booths are starkly angular and high-backed in what looks like tiger bamboo. This might be a loud room when full.
Definitely curious to try it when they get on their feet.
I think the answer is people who don't live in the neighborhood. It has become much more of a dining destination. You now have restaurants on Harrison Ave, where there's room to offer free parking, a shocking novelty. Every new fine-dining place to open up in the past couple of years at least has valet (I think Orinoco might be the exception).
I started noticing the weekly exurban influx a couple of years ago, most dramatically when Stella caught on: crowds of people and not a soul I recognized from the neighborhood. That used to be hard to do. I was at The Beehive not too long ago, and it was like Soccer Mom Central (NTTAWWT). The suburban influx is practically a stampede on weekends.
It makes sense; the neighborhood itself could never sustain all those places on its own. Mostly, it's progress; we have a lot more mid-priced restaurants than we used to. Not quite the same flavor anymore, though.
I'd have to think in 20 or 30 years you'll look back at this time and conisider it the South End's heyday. So many good restaurants within a 15 minute walk of each other. I know the number of restaurants seems crazy, but they're still packed on Friday and Saturday nights (and many/most are crowded on weeknights as well), so the neighborhood hasn't seemed to reach its tipping point yet.