B&G + Rendezvous + Lexx + Upstairs on the Square = A great eating week
I got a little behind in my posts with the holidays but in the middle of December my dad was in town for a conference and wanted to meet me for dinner a few times so I enjoyed a great restaurant week.
Monday-B&G Oysters: My dad loves the South End and I hadn’t been here before so it seemed like a good option based on other CH posts. We started with an array of oysters (Pleasant Bay, Canada Cup (P.E.I) and Flying Point (Maine). For entrées my dad raved about his meal: head-on shrimp with salmon ravioli. I had skate wing served on polenta cake with pea tendrils and brown butter sauce, MR had diver scallops with celeriac, lardoons, and brussel sprouts. We split an apple tatin for dessert. Everything was really delicious and the atmosphere was great for a casual but quality Monday night dinner. B&G is certainly pricey though. MR’s entrée only had 3 scallops. I know scallops are rich but for the price its seemed like a rather small portion. We did not fret though as we had much more eating to do the rest of the week.
Tuesday- Rendezvous (Central Sq. Cambridge): I had been here before just after it opened and the current menu choices enticed me back. We started with the squid, olive and arugula salad and grilled sardines with lemon parsley and capers. The salad was tasty but not anything that unusual. The grilled sardines on the other hand were just lip-smackingly outstanding. They were so delicious it evoked a story of a Portuguese sardine festival from my dad.
I had the red snapper ginger stew which was fresh and delicate but I would have liked it with a little more spiciness to it. My dad had the lamb shank in berber spices. It smelled amazing and was very tasty. I had the lemon buttermilk pudding for dessert which was lovely though I did wish overall was a tiny bit gooey-er (less cakey). Overall, what I really liked about Rendezvous was how they really let the main ingredient shine. Even though I wanted that kick of spice I was still please that my seafood stew tasted like seafood and that the lamb shank was enhanced by the spices but not overwhelmed by them. I would certainly go back here again.
Wednesday- Lexx (Lexington Center): Ok, I didn’t go here with my dad. I was going to my in-laws for dinner and we went out to eat instead. It was Lexx or Not Your Average Joes and we thought (and were correct) that the atmosphere would be better at Lexx. I’ll start by saying I think it’s a great addition to the center. If you live in the burbs and you want to go to a restaurant that isn’t full of high school kids, here is your option. Eating at Rendezvous the night before probably affected my tastebuds at Lexx but I found the food ranging from perfectly adequate bistro fair to confused and overambitious. MR got the steak frite with truffle oil which was probably the most successful dish. The steak was perfectly cooked (medium rare as he likes it) and although I am not a big truffle oil fan, it worked here. Fries seemed nice and crispy. I had the pork “osso bucco” in honey balsamic glaze, garlic mash and asparagus. (Please, just call it a pork shank) The meat was very tender and the first few bites were great but it was just swimming in the “glaze” which was way too sweet and cloying after a while. My brother in law ordered jambalaya which he seemed to enjoy but I doubt was all that authentic. My sister in law ordered a special: seared scallops (5 of them this time) with shitake mushroom risotto. The scallops were fine but I tasted cream in the risotto which doesn’t appeal to me. I think if you stick to the steaks and braised meats here you will enjoy your meal.
Friday- Upstairs on the Square (Harvard Sq.) I posted on this earlier when following up on my office Christmas lunch at L’Espalier. We ate in the Soiree Dining room (make sure you specify the room when you make reservations). I had the sashimi tuna as an appetizer and it was superb. All the entrees we had were excellent (I had veal two ways: schnitzel and osso bucco (Yay! Real osso bucco), my dad had the braised short ribs, my mom had the duck, and MR had halibut) My mom can be really picky about her food and it was nice to see her savoring every bite. The mashed potatoes with the duck are infused with vanilla. Sounds a little strange but tasted wonderful. If I didn’t need to drive to my inlaws after dinner I would have preferred a port and a cheese plate to my coffee and profiteroles. That will have to wait until next time...Upstairs was a great end to a wonderful week of eating.
I like your take on Lexx. My lovely dining companion an I empty-nested to downtown 18 mos. ago after 20 years in Andover. There is a world of difference between the city and the burbs, restaurants like Lexx (or e.g. Glory in Andover) seem to get huge points for making an effort, but they are a far cry in terms of quality, value, and consistency from places in the city in which we here have rough positive consensus.
If I could build a time machine and go back to talk to my suburban self I'd tell him to make the effort to get into the city as frequently as possible, don't settle for convenience. Oh, and move out of the stock market for 2008.
Following are my comments that I posted following our visit. Happy New Year!
Had dinner there last night. Had never been to their old location and wanted to try it based on I had seen/heard here. So here are my thoughts. Used the valet ($12 vs the ususl $16 charge at most Boston restaurants). Upon entering, saw the large bar space to the right, the main dining area to the left and kitchen right in front of us. It was a "hubub" of activity. We were seated in the dining room.
Pros: Overall I would say that the ambiance is warm, attractive and somewhat casual. We had the 6 course tasting menu (they gave us 8 adding an additional main and desert course). All of the food was good to very good. The service stands out here, with very attentive staff. They provided detailed descriptions of each course (sometimes adding their personal thoughts/comments. You can tell they cared about your experience. The gave great wine recommedations and I would follow their lead anytime). Our dinner was well paced we were there for just over 3 hours).
Cons: White paper covered the taplecloths (personally I am not a big fan of this). The tables for 4 are much to close together. I lost count of the rear ends that bumped (both patrons and wait staff) into our table/chairs during the evening. I know that tables = money, but I'd remove one and it would make a big difference navigating the dining room.
I will be back and want to try out their bar (when we were leaving the host told us that they take reservations for tables at the bar) as well as the "neighborhood menu".