11/2/08 Report: Aquitaine ,South End , Floats Above the Rest
With a winter- inspired hankering for trad French comfort food, specifically Steak Frites, and encouraged by MCSlim's advice, we had a great time here early Sun. night.
To start off with, I really do like this room.High ceilinged, handsome, warm, comfortable, welcoming. At night, it is especially inviting with the glow of the soft cream colored light bank that extends the length of the central backbone wall.
Service began disappointing slowly, but after that, our server was friendly, positive, attentive, sans- attitude.The wine list is all French; the by-the-glass list is long and good.We were very pleased with our reds. The crusty French rolls and sweet butter are excellent.
Our apps were both terrific. I had warm sliced beet salad with melted boucheron and watercress. The bed of thin beet slices was sprinkled with the robust boucheron and run under the salamander, then served with a healthy mound of vinaigretted crunchy peppery watercress. This treatment took beet salad to a new level for me;one of the best beet salads I've had. (Aquitaine has always used watercress a lot and, in fact, is responsible for my re-discovery of this green and subsequent delight in adding it to my regular larder of legumes. I wish other restaurants would use it as much. ) My Love had the Brandade Croquette. Now THIS is the Bacalao croquette they should be serving at Toro and Estragon. Perfectly flavor balanced, mild, creamy, meaty, large., on a generous bed of white bean and kale ragout. No need for its cover of aioli, but that was easy to remove.
The Steak Frites hangar steak was generous and perfectly med rare. I asked for sides of both its black truffle vinaigrette and the cognac sauce that comes with the filet au poivre(but I do not care for beef tenderloin; all tenderness and no flavor.)The cognac sauce was thin and had little flavor of cognac (it probably requires the beef pan deglazing step to gain its proper flavor ) I found the truffle vinaigrette to be a perfect foil for the Steak Frites. Brilliant in fact. Via the server, the chef sent out the recipe for me. A complex multilayered reduction of red wine , truffle juice, and truffle oil, replete w/ minced truffles and finished w/various vinegars, all emulsified into a piquant and thick sauce. The tartness was just what those (perfect )fries always need,(ketchup, malt vinegar, all the same idea) and the truffle sauce was a great foil for the beef. Now, THIS is a dish tailor made for addiction, taking the Steak Frites to, yet again here, a new level. My Love had the Scallops with Lentils de Puy. He happily scarfed them while I fixated on my plate. And man, by the end, our plates were CLEAN, let me tell you. Send the dishwasher home!
No dessert; we were satiated and dreamy. Great night and we look forward to the return.
I had a similarly great experience there 2 weeks ago. A different beet sald but very good. Service was really great. The waiter was professional helpful and very pleasant. My only complaint is the rapidly increasing cost of modest bottlees of wine. Nothing under 45.00 for a red except a Beaujolais. However, this complaint is certainly not limited to Aquitaine and the quality of their food, service and the room itself really mitigates this one issue.