I have always considered #9 one of the best if not the best fine dining restaurants in Boston. My DC and I did a tasting menu over the holidays and were less then thrilled, nothing clicked, mediocre at best. I chalked it up to an off night or to the fact that they were very busy (chaotic).
We returned earlier this week for another try. Again another chaotic experience, we had an 8:00 reservation and were not seated until just after 8:30. Not usually a big deal but they were not that busy and I have always felt that a place of this caliber should be more careful with over booking and should always seat reservations in a more timelier manner. Once again we did the tasting menu with wine pairings, even though it was almost identical to the tasting we had four months earlier? The food was even less inspiring, luke warm and poorly executed. I was very surprised with the lack of care they showed as far as the wines were concerned. The whites were served way to cold and the reds were way to warm (hot)!
An extremely disappointing two experiences considering the price and their excellent reputation. Two mediocre to bad experiences in a row does not bode well especially when they are planning on this big move to the seaport district. I hope this is not the beginning of the end alla Todd English and Olives!
I have a theory.
Those of us who read ChowBos obsessively develop a notion of the board’s conventional wisdom, and that conventional wisdom reinforces itself. This is a *wonderful* resource but a bit of an echo chamber at times.
I’ve had some mediocre experiences at Neptune Oyster e.g. and this board makes be feel like I should be on medication.
Correspondingly, one’s sensual experiences truly are subjective. And the way that one reacts to the same experience changes over time.
So maybe the issue isn’t that No. 9 is slipping, it’s that it always performed along a normal distribution (albeit one skewed very positively), and the criteria you use to assess the experience have changed.
Warm wine does sound nasty though.
If they are going down the tubes that will create room for another high-end place that we can work ourselves into a froth about! And the chow cycle of life goes on.
Have you been to Troquet? I have not but have convinced myself that the next time I feel compelled to spend No. 9-like amounts of money I’ll give it a try instead.
Warm wine, warm food; someone is not paying attention to the DETAILS. We've seen this all too often in the Boston. As mentioned, Todd English & Olives were special for the first couple of years they were opened. Then, Todd decided to try to feed the world.
Biba/ Lydia Shire early on, provided a special dining experience - some truly wonderful & unique food, served in a great looking room, presided over by waitstaff & management that really got it! In the last year of its life, Biba felt like a different & woefully inferior restaurant. St. Cloud was the same way. The list is long, and littered with "once excellent" and then quickly, mediocre eateries, that fell by the wayside.
IMO No.9 is slipping because Barbara is so focused on opening her new restaurant and not paying attention to details. We have eaten there twice in the last few months as well and also noticed that the food did not seem to be as great as it once was. The service has been excellent though and Joe the maitre'd has always been gracious. I think they must also have a new manager since there is has been a woman there recently instead of the shorter gentleman I remember from years past.
We have resolved to only eat in the cafe area since it will not hit our wallet as hard and the "more simpler" food seems to be executed better.
Sat at the bar on Friday night - Is this slipping?
Passionfruit souffle was excellent. Cod fritters were ok. Copenhagen yummy. Bordeaux by the glass was outstanding.
Wine glass was dirty - marks from failure to properly rinse. Same deal with some silverware. Service was good.
I still think the food is too precious. DC had a crab salad that was thousands of tiny shreds of crab, formed into one tiny cake. I always thought that shreds like that were poor form - you know, the ideal is the backfin lump. For the price, you'd think that's what you'd get.
re: Bob Dobalina
I beg to differ. In New England it is considered more appropriate to serve Jonah Crab. However the salad should only have contained leg meat, which it sounds like it didn't. Also, 99.9% of the backfin lump crabmeat comes from southeast Asian blue swimmer crabs and has been pasteuized and canned, whereas the Jonah crabs available in Boston are cooked daily on the fish pier, and the meat picked right there. This is the meat that Browne Trading Company has trademarked "Peekytoe Crab," and it considered by many, like Thomas Keller and Charlie Trotter, to be the finest available. To us locals, it's just plain ol' crabmeat.
So sad! No. 9 has been a staple in my dining life for the past 10+ years, but I haven't been regularly in 3 years since I've had children. The bar has always been the place to be, however, with John & Ryan, and Eli [front desk] is now at B&G often, if you are looking for him. Hopefully, they'll see this post & sharpen up!