Where Did You Go For Valentine's Day (If Anywhere)?
We went to the Elephant Walk in Cambridge last night, and except for a blip or two, it was a terrific experience. They had the option of a fixed price tasting menu (which my GF did) or ordering off the normal menu (which was what I did).
Apps were good--the pork spring rolls were nice and meaty, while the wild mushroom soup with sherry and brown rice had a complex, exotic flavor.
The entrees were excellent, though my GF's center-cut sirloin was cooked rare (she had ordered medium), so it was sent back to be cooked better. My dish--the mee siem au poulet (chicken with rice noodles, egg, and a variety of veggies) was outstanding, though I made the mistake of ordering it extra spicy, and I am paying the price for that move.
Desserts included a delicious chocolate truffle cake and a rather odd (but good) creme caramel with pandan leaf that smelled kind of like a gym locker room but had a taste that was like a mix of red bean and hazelnut.
The place was packed, with an interesting mix of beautiful people, earthy crunchy folks, older couples, and young MIT types who looked like they might be fans of Weezer or Radiohead.
Overall, a very nice experience, and one that wasn't your typically crazy madhouse that happens so often on Valentine's Day.
Where did other folks go? Any really nice spots?
Wife and I went to EVOO. They had an excellent four course offer with wine pairings for $100 per person. Everything was great (really no disappointments) and the wine pairings were not only generous pours but also worked very well with the dishes. I love this place and will be back again soon!
Hubby and I went to L'andana Grill in Burlington. It's pretty new, so our first time there. I was pretty impressed with the food - classic Northern Italian with twists. I had carpaccio, but instead of parmesean, they had gorgonzola and horseradish on it - yummy! The broccoli rabe, instead of just garlic and oil, had garlic and chilis. Hubby had the duck in blood orange sauce over parmesean risotto - very yummy, though he likes his duck crispier than they made it. The service staff was a bit junior, but they did just open - the service was great, but not as polished as I would expect. The wine list was quite nice with a decent list of half bottles which let us choose more than one to complement our meals. Also, not over the top price-wise, I'd definitely go back with friends.
Shiki. I'd say our experience was in line with most of what I've read out here - good to excellent food, spotty (but friendly and apologetic) service.
We arrived promptly for our 8:00 reservation, and found ourselves standing in the doorway with four other couples who'd done the same. Got seated about 8:20, and ordered six small dishes and a small bottle of good sake. Turns out they didn't have one of our choices, so we substituted - no problem.
We got one dish about 20 minutes after ordering (not bad on a crowded night), but then had to wait almost an hour for the next dish to show up. 20 minutes after that three more dishes arrived all at once. The sixth never arrived at all, which was just as well, we were full by then, and they took it off the bill.
As for the food, we had:
Scallop tartare wrapped in smoked salmon - very good, though as at least one poster has mentioned, the strongly-flavored (and truly excellent!) salmon overpowers the scallop, so it's best eaten deconstructed, scallop first.
Fried oysters, a special of the day. They were OK, but not nearly as good as most I've eaten. The coating was surprisingly thick and almost dough-like, covered with panko, and formed into perfect ovals. They were more like little crunchy dumplings with a tiny oyster inside than what I'd normally think of as fried oysters.
Tuna with natto, our least favorite. This was our first time trying natto, and probably our last - it was weirdly sticky, leaving little spiderweb threads of goo all over the place, and had a slightly nauseating taste (yes, I know it's fermented, but it tasted more like half-digested and the flavor lingered in my mouth until I was finally able to get home and brush my teeth), with a texture somewhere between cooked beans and oatmeal. The tuna with it was small bland chunks. This may have been a good version of natto (natto fans please chime in), but if so it's clearly not to our taste.
Things picked up with the arrival of the tonkatsu, a pork loin cutlet (the menu actually reads "poklin") fried perfectly crispy and moist, with a dipping sauce that tasted strongly of pomegranate molasses.
Our last dish was salmon onigiri, a simple but delicious ball of moist rice with a piece of cooked fish in the middle, wrapped in a large sheet of dried seaweed so you can pick it up and eat it by hand.
All in all an enjoyable meal. I really like what they've done with the decor, the space is much warmer and more inviting than when it was Firenze. We'll definitely be back, though probably not on a holiday.