Icarus or Aquitaine tomorrow eve?
Trying to make a final decision, so thought I'd throw it out to you all.
4 of us heading out to dinner for the first time in a while, and so want a nice night out. The request has been made for French, I'm not interested in too low-key bistro (i.e zygomates) nor do I want to venture into the over the top celebration evening (i.e. L'espalier). Money not a huge concern, but good consistent and fresh food and a wide-ranging fairly priced interesting wine list is.
We all enjoy our food tremendously, two of us cook A LOT and so know what goes into a dish. We will include one who is pregnant, and one vegetarian (does eat some fish) and two total and complete omnivores.
Thoughts on the two choices?
Of these two - I like the food at Icarus a bit better. Neither place is exceptionally exciting. I found the food at Icarus to be exceptionally well prepared if not unique, while at Aquitaine I have found the food to be "fine". I liked brunch at Aquitaine the one time I have been, but have had fish dishes there twice and found them to be somewhat bland. However, I have liked the appetizers and my husband liked the steak at Acquitaine so I think in general it is okay. To me Aquitaine says "french" more to me than Icarus - I am not sure how important that aspect is - and Aquitaine is less expensive. Not that your probably need any more suggestions, but I have found that Hamersley's does a very nice job with vegetarian entrees. Otherwise, I think it is on par with Icarus (although maybe a bit more "french") in that they are both very good, but not exceptionally exciting and a little more expensive than would be ideal.
Icarus is a nice room and one of my favorite kitchens in Boston. Here are my tasting notes from our dinner there several months ago: We started with grilled quail with champagne grapes and a house antipasto. Both were wonderful; the quail exceptionally flavorful and interesting. Entrees were grilled tuna with white beans, calamari and roasted cherry tomatoes and duck breast with marcona almonds and carmelized plum. This dish was beyond delicious. We finished with molten chocolate cake for two and rolled out the door.
A report back -- we ended up choosing Icarus, and were more than happy with it.
The service was wonderful, there was jazz being played on the piano and given the strange weather (kind of warm, but raining?, really windy?) outside, it was quite nice to be cozy down in the 'basement'.
Around the table, we managed to try lots of dishes and each one was very solid - certainly not awe-inspiring cuisine, but everything just... worked, for lack of a better word.
Spring vegetable stew was outstanding, a nice combination of flavors - asparagus, artichokes, spring onions, etc. Others had the green salad, the goat cheese terrine (a bit too rich for his tastes), and the seared foie gras. Entrees included a WONDERFUL cod dish with littlenecks, white beans and morels (really a perfect representation of New England and also the season), the duck, and grilled lamb.
My one complaint was the wine list. A few things struck me - first of all, the pricing. Not only did I feel that the markups were really out of control, but the range also seemed odd, with lots of skew toward $90 and up... Not a lot of choices in the $50-$60 range. I understand the markup game in restaurants, and know that a fair amount of $$ comes in the door that way, but it does bother me when it is so obvious. (FYI we were only looking at reds, so I can't speak for the whites)
As an aside, I also found the choices a bit too eclectic - there didn't seem to be any threads running through the options. Understand that with an 'American' menu they are trying to serve a wide range of tastes, but the list seemed chaotic. Anyone else have this reaction, or is it just me?
All in all, though, a very pleasant night. Thanks for the feedback!