HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Get great advice
TELL US

Sensing at Fairmont Battery Wharf?

Chris VR Jan 14, 2009 11:38 AM

Any reviews? We're heading there this weekend and I wondered if there was any real info out there yet.

  1. k
    kate used to be 50 Jan 14, 2009 12:10 PM

    I was there for cocktails recently. There was no one there so the service was very attentive. They also gave us some free nipples, but I think we were test cases because they kept coming back asking for our opinions on the little app which was a spicy (mild) tuna salad on a carrot disc. Interesting but no wow. The drinks were enjoyable though.

    I'd be interested to see if things have picked up after the official Grand Opening.

    5 Replies
    1. re: kate used to be 50
      hiddenboston Jan 14, 2009 12:24 PM

      They officially opened last night, didn't they? I've been waiting for them to open for a long time now--wrote about the place nearly a year ago. I wonder how often Guy Martin will be there. (Probably not very, huh?)

      1. re: kate used to be 50
        Chris VR Jan 14, 2009 01:01 PM

        free nipples, huh?! I didn't know it was THAT kind of place ;-)

        1. re: Chris VR
          k
          kate used to be 50 Jan 14, 2009 02:13 PM

          yea, yea - didn't i tell you. they are going for a golden banana vibe

          1. re: kate used to be 50
            hiddenboston Jan 15, 2009 06:27 AM

            Something tells me Guy Martin isn't finding this conversation amusing. ;-)

            1. re: hiddenboston
              k
              kate used to be 50 Jan 15, 2009 07:26 AM

              Who knows. May be the next offal offering.

      2. s
        stradacouple Jan 16, 2009 03:23 AM

        Am also going there this Sat night. Scouted out the Fairmont site, though not a lot of info.

        53 Replies
        1. re: stradacouple
          g
          greenstate Jan 17, 2009 08:56 AM

          Please report back on your dinner. Thanks,

          1. re: greenstate
            s
            stradacouple Jan 18, 2009 03:04 AM

            My wife and I went for dinner last night. We had a 7:00 reservation. This is their first weekend open to the public. Upon entering the hotel, Sensing is to the left of an attractive lobby. The room is blonde woods and muted fabrics. You enter Sensing and you walk past a small bar on the left and there is the open kitchen on your left as well (there is counter seating along the open kitchen). The space then opens into the dining room.

            So now for the food and drink. Cocktails (a gibson and a martini done with orange bitters) were very well done. The wine list is "France heavy" with a few selections from Italy and the US. Some might consider it a smallish list, but the selections I thought were solid. I was staying with my martinis w/ orange bittes and planning to wine by the glass.

            They pass bread and you have your selection/s. For apps, my wife had the salad with yogurt dressing and I had their small plate sampler. This consisted of 6 small bites. You can either get 6 of the same or one of each. I opted to try them all. Included in this detailed presentation were a oyster, crab in jelly, fois gras mouse (next time I am going to get 6 of these.....they were that great), sushi , and a jeresulum artichoke soup.

            For mains, my wife had the steak which came with fried eggplant and a great "barbeque" sauce. The steak was perfectly done. I had the cod, which was poached in a ginger/coconut broth andlon with baby vegetables. The cod was amazing. We shared a side dish of pasta with fresh sage. With my main I had a glass of California white wine that was recomended by one of the front of the house. It was perfect with the cod.

            For desert we shared a 5 cut cheese course. The 5 perfect cheeses were accompanied by sliced bread with walnuts and cranberry chutney. We also had glasses of white port. I am a huge fan of white port and you very rarely see it on menus in the US. We then moved on to espressos (also perfectly done and well presented with a small shot of ice water). To close the meal there are small sweets delivered, finger bowls with small towels with freshly poured warm water and then our check.

            Dinner for 2 w/ tip ran $270 plus $18 for the valet.

            I though that all the folks working there were great (both front of the house and our waiter). We could not have been happier - great service and great food.

            It will be interesting to see what others think as well as how their menu evolves. I know that it will probably "not be for everybody", but that's ok. We loved it and are heading back tonight (at the bar they do sandwiches and a kobe burger that our waiter said was fantactic) to eat at the bar.

            1. re: stradacouple
              g
              greenstate Jan 18, 2009 05:56 AM

              Thanks for the review. It sounds (and looks) a bit uppity for Boston but I am going to try it on Thursday night. I am looking forward to it.

              1. re: greenstate
                cockscomb Jan 23, 2009 08:59 PM

                here's the problem... "a bit uppity for boston"???

                i'm new here and new to boston and wondering why the amount of quality places are limited.... i found sensing, while slightly pretensious, a soothing atmoshpere however it was quiet, and very clean and delicious food. the tiger eye bar which, by the way had some interesting cocktails, is a fun and interesting way to dine. you can sit at the bar which at a 90 degree angle turns into a dining counter where you can see the well executed food being prepared.
                i liked l'espalier, but in comparison, i thought the food at sensing to be more exciting and thoughtful rather than safe, as well as it was very clean. 4 courses and i clearly could have com=ntinued. not because the portions were small but because it was clean and not very rich. the one negative i would say is that the wine list is need of serious help.
                excellent addition to this food scene, i hope they do well.

                1. re: cockscomb
                  s
                  stradacouple Jan 24, 2009 02:59 AM

                  The wine list is very small. The bartender told us that they "wanted to start small, quality over quintity" and are planning to expand it. On our second visit (we were having the cheese plate again for desert) I wanted a desert wine by the glass and there was only one selection. The bartender let me try ut to see if I liked it first. It was quite good. One thing I did appreciate was that they had a white port on their list. White port is one of my favorites and typically never seen on Boson menus. Oh......welcome to Boston.

                  1. re: stradacouple
                    WineAG Jan 26, 2009 04:40 PM

                    As a wine consultant who advises restaurants on their wine lists... when a restaurant says they "want to start small" and they "plan to expand it later" it's code for not having the money to invest in the list. Not uncommon in today's economic climate.

                  2. re: cockscomb
                    Chris VR Jan 24, 2009 05:15 AM

                    I'd be curious to hear some specifics on what you thought about your meal at Sensing.

                2. re: stradacouple
                  Chris VR Jan 18, 2009 06:25 AM

                  Great review- we were there last night as well- I think you two were sitting at the table behind us.

                  I thought the decor was nice but bordered on bland. I also really hoped that we'd have a restaurant in Boston that offered a good water view and excellent food, and was disappointed that the view didn't deliver... but luckily the food did (albeit at a hefty price point!)

                  We started with cocktails. I loved my Pisco Sour. Hubby had a ginger drink which had some serious ginger kick. We shared the tasting platter for an app and I agree, the foie gras mousse was definitely the best thing on there. The Cheese Sage Maki was odd. We debated it- and decided that while we didn't think the cheese/sesame combination in particular worked that well, we also liked that it took a chance and made us think about the flavors. The crab/grapefruit jelly thing was fine, not much crab flavor but we liked the grapefruit. You didn't mention the mussel/beet root thing, and I liked it but others didn't. We also had the lobster salad which I didn't love but again appreciated what was done with the dish- the lobster was served with a bit of mango sauce and I thought the tail was a bit tough, although the crab was moist. It was served over firm butternut squash which was finely diced. I think that was our favorite part of the dish. The breads were delicious.

                  It's not a large menu, besides the starter assortment platter, there were maybe 5 starter choices, 5 seafood options and 5 meat options, plus 3 or 4 sides and 4 desserts. I don't recall seeing any vegetarian mains.

                  At our table, we also had the steak, which my friend absolutely loved- she said it was one of the best steaks she's had. She subbed the eggplant for the mashed potatoes in olive oil, which I really liked- it was a very fruity olive oil (this is offered as a side for $4). I had the scallops, which were delicious- not for people that don't like celery, though, as it was served on a bed of diced celery and apples, and served with what I believe was a celery foam over the top. They were perfectly seared. The other diners had the peanut butter crusted lamb tenderloin, which worked surprisingly well. The lamb was very good, mild, moist and the peanut flavor worked really well with it. There was also a sauce that complemented the flavor. The sweet potato gnocchi was disappointing to me- leaden nuggets which may have tasted fine but i just couldn't get past the texture. I felt the portions were quite generous. I had (I think) 5 good size scallops and all the meat portions were larger than I tend to see in fine dining around Boston. Each dish came with a small carafe of the sauce on the side which I thought was a nice touch.

                  Dessert was chocolate caramel tart with peanut ice cream, which received mixed reviews- I really liked it but my friend though tit was all sweet and didn't have the richness she was looking for. The cheese platter was excellent although personally I like a few other accompaniments, such as non-flavored bread, nuts and membrillo. But the cheeses were excellent and that's what counts.

                  Worthy of note was the flatware and plates- really nice stuff, felt great and the way the plates sloped toward the diner was very interesting. The scallops were served on a beautiful green glass late that elevated an already nicely plated presentation to a simply beautiful dish. However, our biggest complaint was how poorly the plates worked on the blond wood table surface. I'm not sure what the solution is but we were chasing our plates around the table every time we tried to cut something on them.

                  Very high marks to the staff- from the bartender to our wonderful waiter to the solicitous front of house staff, they didn't miss a beat at any point during the evening (although I was surprised that the staff left the ring on the table that was left by one of the carafes of sauce.) So often I order something and by the time it comes I can't recall what all the components are, so I particularly appreciated how our server took time to describe the dishes when they came.. Dinner for 4 of use, including tip, cocktails, a bottle of wine and glasses of cognac and Johnny Walker Blue was over $500. At this price point I won't be back soon, but I'll definitely consider it for the next time I want to pull out all the stops.

                  1. re: Chris VR
                    s
                    stradacouple Jan 18, 2009 07:02 AM

                    Yes, given your descriptions, I believe we were at the table behind you. I agree with your comments on the space. If the restaurant were on another level of the hotel, you could leverage a better view and avoid what I think will be a fair amount of pedestrian foot traffic going by in warmer weather. I read somewhere that they will add outdoor seating in the summer. I think that it will be hard to support outdoor dining at that price point.

                    I forgot to mention the mussel w/ beet root (it was my least favorite, though I am not a "big mussel person"). All your comments on the tasting platter items are spot on. Actually, my wife thought about gettting the lamb and I the scallops, so it is good to know that both were good.

                    Hopefully there will be nightly additions to the menu, because I agree i
                    t is not expansive and if they want "regulars", some variety needs to be there.

                    We live in the neighborhood and eat out 3 or so times per week, thus our interest in trying the bar menu tonight.

                    My wife noted "the slick" table surface too (I always prefer table linens). Also, the tables for two are somewhat small (between bread plates, dinner plates, water and cocktail glasses and sides....it gets crowded fast)

                    1. re: stradacouple
                      g
                      greenstate Jan 23, 2009 04:16 AM

                      I don't get the hyper reviews. Maybe I am not a true Chowhound. We had dinner there last night and we were very disappointed. The place looks OK, although not very warm and inviting or conducive to settling in for a wonderful (and expensive) meal.

                      We started at the bar and had some great drinks. Of note was a cocktail made with Grey Goose, Patron, lime and cilantro. Very delicious and pricey. The Merlot was good. The bartenders are great, very friendly and accamodating. There was no one eating in the dining room so we decided to stay at the bar and eat.

                      We started with the lobster salad and a tossed green salad. The lobster was fresh and delicious. The tossed greens were uninspired. The menu IS very limited and given special dietary considerations, we were limited to fish and we both ended up ordering the cod. Although it was good - fresh and tasty - it was not anything that I would sit home and crave. We both had a couple of glasses of Chardonnay with dinner. We finished with a cappuccino, which was perfect. Total, with tip - almost $300.

                      The problem I have with Sensing is that it seems like an LA restaurant, both in terms of design and menu. I do not see Boston embracing it and making it a "regular" destination. We live right next to it and we were looking forward to a local place where we could sit at the bar and have a meal. It did not leave us with that feeling, at all.

                      To be opening a new restaurant, in January, an economy such as this, they seem to be flagrantly thumbing their nose at their curious new audience. No thick, satisfying bowls of soup, rather something with chestnut foam. No complex, interesting salads, rich braised meats or ethnic hints at anything. Boring and bland. Clearly, they need to identify their clientele and tweak their menu appropriately. If they were going for an international crowd at the hotel, they are out of luck, since the hotel/condo aspect of the business is less than what they had hoped for. So basically they are serving a Boston crowd, for now anyway and their finger is not on the pulse.
                      Since we are so close by and we do want them to be a success, we will go back, for drinks and a peek at the menu, with hopes that they have made the necessary changes.

                      1. re: greenstate
                        s
                        stradacouple Jan 23, 2009 05:52 PM

                        We ate there again last Sunday and sat at the Bar. My wife had the kobe burger and I had the chicken stuffed with smoked trout. Both were good. I was drinking triple 8 martinis (which ran $20 a pop).........their prices do tend to run on the high side. I agree with your statement on interior design/menu, but that is what I am finding interesting. It is not like other Boston restaraunts. We too live in the neighborhood and want them to to be a success. As I said in my earlier post, it will be interesting to see how they mature.

                        1. re: stradacouple
                          MC Slim JB Jan 23, 2009 09:58 PM

                          $20 for a vodka martini is the highest price I've seen in Boston for a cocktail that doesn't involve some crazy-expensive spirit. (A 750ml bottle of Triple 8 retails for under $30.) That cocktail price is just insane. The chicken dish sounds interesting, though.

                          The prices at Bina Osteria are similarly eye-popping. Barbara Lynch has a new high-end place in the works. I just wonder how many luxury-class restaurants the city can sustain in a recession.

                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                            cockscomb Jan 23, 2009 10:25 PM

                            interesting... i may need to check my receipt again. i had a few cocktails and don't remember them being that expensive. wow! although i did not feel like my check was that outrageous. i hope your triple 8 had something else good in it. i don't mind paying 20 for a cocktail if it's well crafted, unique and delicious so i hope yours was!!
                            i guess the thought of t=some of these restaurants opening in these economic times are worth talking about however, from what i understand, sensing was a 9-12 month project coming. hard to see that hings would be this bad 9-12 months ago. can't really blame them for that.
                            having their finger on the pulse is another story. but i'm not sure if understand the suggestions of thick braised meats and menu reconstruction. from a lot of posters on here, i see way too many "chowhounders" wanting to homogonize menus. you can get that stuff elsewhere, let a restaurant stick to what they do well. i didnt find anything bland on the menu...

                            1. re: cockscomb
                              s
                              stradacouple Jan 24, 2009 03:26 AM

                              I do find their cocktail pricing interesting. My wife has grey goose martinis and they were either $15 or 16. On our first visit the night before I had a martini w/ orange bitters ($17). When eating at the bar the following night I spotted the triple 8 (it was nor standard martini.....no extras added). I think that this is the highest price I have paid in Boston. Like the 4 Seasons and a few other place I wonder if they keep their bar prices high as a deterrant/mechanism to edit patrons. The Fairmont Battery Wharf is in a very "touristy" area (just think of feast nights in the North End in the summer). You are spot on with your comment that the food is very thoughtful. On our second visit the front of the house folks welcomed us back. The kitchen sent an amuse and the chef later came over to make sure that everyting was fine. It may seem like I am complaining about the cocktail prices, but I am not (they are just comments for others to note). The current economy makes an interesting environment for those higher end restaraunts. Given that Sensing is in a hotel and also does breakfast and lunch service it might be easier for them. It would be interesting to see if in their research/business planning what % dinner patrons (that is where the true revenue is) would be drawn from hotel guests vs "locals".

                              1. re: cockscomb
                                g
                                greenstate Jan 24, 2009 11:50 AM

                                I would not characterize the food as "exciting and thoughtful" but as lackluster and the environment as sterile. My criticisms are that Sensing does not relate to its environment. It's cold here in January and personally, I want soothing food that tastes delicious and warms my soul. Few items on their menu did that for me. I am not so provincial as to suggest that they open an establishment that mirrors other eateries in Boston but I do thing they need to embellish their menu. Come on - chestnut foam soup - in the coldest month of the year - really? That have got to do better than that.

                                The drinks that we had were fantastic, as were the bartenders. And the Kobe burger was tempting but I was interested in trying more of a signature dish. I wish that I had gotten the burger.

                                As far as opening when they did, I guess that is just bad luck. But you can't open a five star restaurant to an empty hotel in a three star economy.

                                1. re: greenstate
                                  cockscomb Jan 24, 2009 02:41 PM

                                  interesting... i always thought about chestnuts being a winter thing. "chestnuts roasting on an open fire"??? come on!!! are you kidding me???

                                  "But you can't open a five star restaurant to an empty hotel in a three star economy"

                                  greenstate... i'm sorry that we disagree about the food but i don't think guy martin was sitting in his living room one night in the last few weeks thinking that he should enrage a bunch of diners by opening an expensive restaurant in boston. the economic times are what they are now. probably not when this concept was conceived i imagine. from what i have read, it looks like it should have OPENED 9-12 months ago. can't fault a restaurant for that.
                                  from what one of the servers told me is that the hotel isn't empty... it's not fully operational. i believe he said that only 40 rooms were available. and as well, the residences aren't completed.
                                  engaging people in conversation that work at restaurants is one way that i have had great experiences as well as it is informative. i learned that it was empty because it's not finished.

                                  1. re: cockscomb
                                    g
                                    greenstate Jan 25, 2009 06:32 AM

                                    I am not trying to be argumentative and we apparently have a different take on Sensing as well as different expectations for a restaurant experience. But - they do not serve chestnut soup, which actually would be appealing, they serve quince soup with chestnut foam. To be fair, I have not tried it but there is nothing about that combo that makes me want to try it. Quince is something I've had in jams, jellies and pies. It remains completely unappealing to me.

                                    Engaging people that work in restaurants is a very good way to get the scoop on what is going on. So is living there. I live there. There is a lot going on that could be perceived as "tainting" the opening of this restaurant. Sales of the residences stopped cold in the fall when the economy tanked. It has been said that the Regent backed out due in part to issues with the developer and with the economy. A high end hotel and restaurant has been excitedly anticipated by residents of Battery Wharf since the conception. Most people are eager to welcome them and to use the establishment and the facilities. So far, it has been a huge disappointment and largely vacant.

                                    I like the convenience of a good bar and restaurant next door to me. I like the idea of a high end establishment succeeding. I will go back and I will hope that it lives up to the expectations that have surrounded it. For now I will be spending my time and money at Prezza, another neighborhood restaurant that I want to continue to be successful.

                                    1. re: greenstate
                                      cockscomb Jan 25, 2009 09:44 AM

                                      im sorry greenstate. my interpretation was that you were knocking them not relating to their environment by using an ingredient, chestnut as you put it "in the coldest month of the year". wasn't taking this as argumentative by any means. difference of opinion is how i take it, as well as difference in tastes of food.

                                      my experiences as prezza however have been quite good but i am never compelled to go back there. i was invited the second time, and was given a gift card the first. i didn't find the food to be quite up to the pricing.

                                      i am planning on going to sensing again soon... i have to try the other half of the menu!

                                      1. re: cockscomb
                                        g
                                        greenstate Jan 25, 2009 10:09 AM

                                        That's what makes the world go round! You have your Sensing and I have my Prezza. It's a beautiful thing.

                                        1. re: cockscomb
                                          s
                                          stradacouple Jan 26, 2009 02:20 AM

                                          I agree w/ your perspective on Prezza.

                                          1. re: stradacouple
                                            cockscomb Jan 26, 2009 12:56 PM

                                            strada.. seems like we have similar taste in restaurants. i would love to hear your opinions on other restaurants. I have another thread on here that i would appreciate your comments.
                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/590343

                                            thanks

                                        2. re: greenstate
                                          whs Jan 25, 2009 03:42 PM

                                          I'm curious how you could dislike something you have not tried--FYI, it is a cauliflower and quince soup with chestnut foam. To my palate, that has all the signifiers of a winter soup.

                                          1. re: whs
                                            g
                                            greenstate Jan 25, 2009 04:40 PM

                                            Reread my post. I never said I dislike it.

                                            1. re: whs
                                              cockscomb Jan 26, 2009 01:01 PM

                                              that soup was excellent. all the flavors there but nothing dominated and not a terribly rich soup. this seems really to be there thing. clean food, minimal ingredients well integrated and excecuted

                                      2. re: cockscomb
                                        StriperGuy Jan 25, 2009 03:52 PM

                                        $20 for a garden variety (more or less) cocktail is absurd. Eastern Standard and #9 make some of the best in beantown and don't scratch that ridiculous price tag unless you are talking some really extravagant ingredient, not just Triple 8 vodka. The emperor ain't wearing much...

                                        1. re: StriperGuy
                                          barleywino Jan 25, 2009 05:17 PM

                                          perhaps the price includes refills?

                                          1. re: barleywino
                                            StriperGuy Jan 26, 2009 05:14 AM

                                            That I like, endless refills for $20. Now that is a recession-buster.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy
                                              MC Slim JB Jan 26, 2009 10:27 AM

                                              They also offer a $22 French 75. I suppose you could justify that if you topped it with Cristal.

                                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                cockscomb Jan 26, 2009 10:52 AM

                                                it's actually done with taittinger... can't really defend the $22 cocktail, but nobody was forced to order it when i was there.

                                                i think it really is important to get more food related criticism on here rather than doom and gloom of the economy. i think we all really would appreciate if some of these higher end places are around when the money situation gets better.

                                                it's demoralizing to hear price criticism continually. kind of sours the experience before even going to new places. opinion on the food wether its positive or negative at least leaves something to be desired

                                                1. re: cockscomb
                                                  galleygirl Jan 26, 2009 11:08 AM

                                                  I myself am more concerned with finding places I can afford to eat than whether these higher end places are around when the situation gets better, maybe that's why these petty little details keep coming up...

                                                  1. re: galleygirl
                                                    cockscomb Jan 26, 2009 11:14 AM

                                                    for sure galleygirl... i'm certainly finding myself looking for bargains as well.
                                                    i was simply saying that we know the fact is that the higher end places are expensive so i see no point in dwelling on it. its almost redundant. we just continue looking for the bargains and when we find the spare change (or bag of gold at the end of the rainbow) to splurge, it is nice to have great options

                                                  2. re: cockscomb
                                                    MC Slim JB Jan 26, 2009 11:21 AM

                                                    So, shut my eyes, put my fingers in my ears, and sing, "There's no monster under the bed" -- when there is in fact an enormous, ugly, slavering monster under the bed?

                                                    Luxury-class places always seem to manage to come back when the economy improves, and a few hang on regardless: there's always some level of well-heeled locals and tourists to sustain them.

                                                    I'd welcome more food-related criticism, too, but the fact is I'm not spending on high-end places the way I used to (and I have the unusual benefit of a professional subsidy for many of those meals); many Hounds who didn't or couldn't when times were good aren't either.

                                                    But I will occasionally spend on occasion meals, and I don't think a certain amount of criticism about very high prices is going to sour it for me. If anything, those splurge dinners will be more meaningful and enjoyable for their rarity.

                                                    Meanwhile, I will anxiously await the reviews of Hounds that can afford these places. Forgive me if I shake my head at $20+ cocktails that aren't made at the level of the $9-12 cocktails at Drink or ESK or Green Street in the meantime.

                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                      cockscomb Jan 26, 2009 12:47 PM

                                                      wow. didn't mean to ruffle any feathers. i was simply saying that this "enormous monster under the bed" unfortunately is under all of our beds. i think it's hundai ad campaign now that says "we're all in this together".
                                                      just consider the quality of the product in regards to the price before criticizing the restaurant "gaugers" and not dwell on it.

                                                      i'm not defending the price/quality ratio of the $20 cocktail. i was trying to suggest that i believe that this $20 cocktail did not seem to be a fair representation of price/quality ratio at sensing

                                                      i absolutely agree that a big part paying for a culinary experience is going for value. (i'm not a "hound" and i don't do any "chowing") i go to eat and enjoy myself. either at fallafel king in dowtown crossing, where simply talking to those two brothers about there business, and how much pride goes into there work, makes me want to spend the 6 or 7 dollars on the chickpeas and lettuce that costs them .37 cents to make. or simply order something else at a high end place that charges $20 for a cocktail that may cost them 3 to put it in a glass.

                                                      1. re: cockscomb
                                                        MC Slim JB Jan 26, 2009 12:58 PM

                                                        No offense taken. What I was responding to was the implication that "expensive places are expensive, so why complain?", which flouts a Chowhound maxim that value is important at any price level. I like Mistral, but I think its prices are a little crazy. I will happily pay the tariff at the rather more expensive O Ya, when I can afford it. I used to love L'Espalier, another of the most expensive places in town, but the atmosphere of the new location is a big step down for me, so it's no longer my first choice for occasion dining.

                                                        There's no doubt in my mind that a luxury-class restaurant can justify its prices with a combination of kitchen artistry, service and atmosphere. And I'm not taking shots at Sensing's food; I haven't tried it yet. But they're sort of setting an uneasy expectation in my mind with that $20 vodka martini.

                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                          cockscomb Jan 26, 2009 01:30 PM

                                                          wait, now i'm confused. in a past response you wrote:

                                                          "But I will occasionally spend on occasion meals, and I don't think a certain amount of well-deserved criticism about very high prices is going to sour it for me. If anything, those splurge dinners will be more meaningful and enjoyable for their rarity."

                                                          and then in the last, you wrote"
                                                          "And I'm not taking shots at Sensing's food; I haven't tried it yet. But they're sort of setting an uneasy expectation in my mind with that $20 vodka martini."

                                                          that was my comment from before about the fact that i want to hear comments about the food and all i saw was talk about the poor economy and the $20 cocktail price. i'm trying to help ease your expectation and other "hounds" that it isn't a good representation. i'm hoping that helps, but like i said before, i'm just one dude who likes to eat

                                                          1. re: cockscomb
                                                            MC Slim JB Jan 26, 2009 01:54 PM

                                                            I'm not sure I understand your confusion: those two comments seem entirely consistent to me.

                                                            I'm glad to hear an opinion that the cocktail prices aren't representative, but I still think it takes big balls to charge that much these days. Does anyone know of any place in town that charges more for a mid-shelf vodka martini?

                                                            Given the wide range of opinions here on Sensing's value so far, I think I may wait for a few more data points before it moves to the top of my to-try list.

                                                    2. re: cockscomb
                                                      StriperGuy Jan 26, 2009 11:53 AM

                                                      I totally disagree. Part of good chowing has always been good value. When a restaurant blatantly gauges it's clients, it speaks to the owners whole approach.

                                                      I can conceive of a $20 cocktail. Home distilled (probably illegal) seasonal New England pear eau de vie with fresh pear nectar and a dash of house made bitters... perhaps. $20 for Triple 8 is just plain soak the client.

                                                    3. re: MC Slim JB
                                                      StriperGuy Jan 26, 2009 11:49 AM

                                                      Course using Cristal in a cocktail would be a total absurd waste.

                                                      1. re: StriperGuy
                                                        MC Slim JB Jan 26, 2009 12:37 PM

                                                        True, but there's a well-established tradition at certain luxury-class places of creating dishes precisely for the prodigal consumption they represent.

                                                        Manhattan and its customer base of hedge fund managers outspending each other in pursuit of the title of Biggest Dick has the most examples. Here's something I lifted from slashfood.com, talking about how these places are suddenly sucking wind:

                                                        "In April [2008], for example, restaurants were basically dueling over their ability to craft obscenely expensive dishes using huge amounts of truffles and other pricey ingredient. The Waverly Inn's famous truffle macaroni and cheese, Totally Baked's $55 truffle potato, and Frank Tujague's $1000 truffle and gold leaf bagel duked it out to see who could waste the most Tuscan fungus. Meanwhile, Nino's $1000 luxury pizza and Norma's $1000 Zillion-dollar Frittata did more or less the same thing with caviar.... Daniel Boloud's DB Burger and Royale Burger ranged between $32 and $150. Their competition, the Wall Street Burger Shoppe's Richard Nouveau ran $175 and featured gold leaf."

                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                          cockscomb Jan 26, 2009 01:10 PM

                                                          i was never a fan of those silly gimmicks... they were ploys to get that clientelle in the restaurants and apparently worked. good marketing by those places. its similar to seeing drc on wine lists. would love to drink it but definitely not spending 35,000 for it but i won't be offended by it

                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                            s
                                                            stradacouple Jan 26, 2009 01:12 PM

                                                            Wow - boy did I start something with the mention of a $20 martini. Folks should go if they like or or not.......all this "bashing" is a little off point. If you have not been.....then how can you offer real perspective for folks.

                                                            1. re: stradacouple
                                                              cockscomb Jan 26, 2009 01:32 PM

                                                              agreed strada. did you see my response above?

                                                              re: stradacouple strada.. seems like we have similar taste in restaurants. i would love to hear your opinions on other restaurants. I have another thread on here that i would appreciate your comments.
                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/590343

                                                              thanks

                                                            2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                              StriperGuy Jan 26, 2009 02:43 PM

                                                              Exactly my point. For those places it is not at all about the food but about impressing your date/co-workers/employees etc. To me there is a certain aesthetic of a well prepared meal whether it is $2 or $200 that goes out the window when impressing becomes more important than the deliciousness of the food/drink or the overall experience.

                                                              A $20 cocktail in beantown says to me: "let's see if we can get away with this in Boston."

                                                          2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                            Alcachofa Jan 29, 2009 09:29 AM

                                                            Do they at least serve those similar to the Oak Room? The Oak Room's cocktails hover around the $20 point, but they are practically two drinks, really, and they only serve half at first, and leave the second half in an iced carafe, keeping the second half chilled. Do they do that at Sensing?

                                                          3. re: StriperGuy
                                                            barleywino Jan 26, 2009 12:57 PM

                                                            or liver-buster....when i was visiting the food basements in Japan (depachika) I saw exotic melons and other unidentifiable fruit there in glass cases with exorbitant price tags on them (like, over $100 per piece)...now those would make for a justifiably $20 cocktail

                                                    4. re: MC Slim JB
                                                      s
                                                      stradacouple Jan 24, 2009 03:30 AM

                                                      Am going to Bina tonight (for the second time). I enjoyed our first visit. It was midweek between Christmas and New Year and the room was perhaps 1/4 full. It will be interesting to see what it is like this evening.

                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                        Suze123 Jan 29, 2009 01:42 PM

                                                        Here here on Bina. We enjoyed our meal but I couldn't believe that the prices would be sustainable in this economy.

                                                    5. re: greenstate
                                                      galleygirl Jan 25, 2009 06:41 AM

                                                      Actually, Greenstate, I think you may be the only true chowhound of the bunch...The site used to have a notice that defined 'hounds as those who don't unquestioningly follow the crowd to the latest celebrity chef, or something to that effect...You seem to be the only one here who posits that if we don't like it, we may not be in the wrong. Everyone else seems to think that if you're not on board with the exalted Guy Martin's vision, you just don't understand, and want to be dumbed down to...

                                                      1. re: galleygirl
                                                        Chris VR Jan 25, 2009 07:41 AM

                                                        "Everyone else" doesn't think that. I'm not on board with any vision. I reported my experience as I perceived it. I wasn't kowtowing to any celebrity chef and frankly it's pretty insulting that you're implying that only people who don't like a new place are being honest and are true chowhounds.

                                                        1. re: Chris VR
                                                          galleygirl Jan 25, 2009 07:49 AM

                                                          My apologies, no offense intended. I do think there were a lot of posts about breathless anticipation, and about the great value of these $300 dinners. The only thing that started a little cavilling was the talk of $20 martinis. Just my own biased point of view. YMMV.
                                                          I think it was interesting that Greenstate felt he had to almost apologize for not seeing it as others did. Perhaps he, or she, felt the same vibe that I did.

                                                          1. re: galleygirl
                                                            Chris VR Jan 25, 2009 08:03 AM

                                                            Fair enough and I'm sorry for getting my dander up. And I am glad you reminded everyone that we don't all need to agree here- in fact it's best when we don't. It's much more interesting that way. One person's Angela's can be another person's Taco Bell!

                                                        2. re: galleygirl
                                                          g
                                                          greenstate Jan 25, 2009 07:46 AM

                                                          Galley Girl, I don't think that is a fair representation of this thread.

                                                          1. re: greenstate
                                                            galleygirl Jan 25, 2009 09:07 AM

                                                            Just how I saw it, like I said, my own opinion...

                                            2. k
                                              kate used to be 50 Jan 24, 2009 12:51 PM

                                              I don't necessarily think a restaurant should be built to be "recession proof", but $20 for a martini regardless of the economy is ridiculous. I'd rather go to ESK, Rowes Wharf, Cragie, Green Street, Gargoyles, etc. for excellent bar-tending and food.

                                              The Fairmont took this space when the initial hotel operator backed out after an argument with the developer. I found the space cold and uninviting and nothing like Fairmont's other property, the Copley Plaza. Maybe that is what they are trying for, but I'd rather drink and eat at the Oak Room.

                                              I hope they succeed as I hate to see empty spaces and I know the condo owners definitely are worried. They do not want an empty hotel space attached to the condo. I think I may be spending my $$ somewhere else though.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: kate used to be 50
                                                s
                                                stradacouple Jan 25, 2009 04:52 AM

                                                The Regent Hotel Chain was the intended to occupy the hotel space. Their backing out and the Fairmont decision to the rescue the space delayed the opening to this past December. Interior design preference is such a personal one. I appreciate both ends of the spectrum from very contemporary spaces to the "grand dames" of the world. The new Fairmont is somewhat similar in design to the Manderin.

                                                I thingk that Battery Wharf is a difficult space for a high end hotel and like you want to see them be very successful rather than evolve to a level of Marriott Long Wharf (Mariotts are fine, but their target client is different than that of the Fairmont). I am not sure what effect if any the hotel change had on Sensing and Guy Martin's vision other than to delay the opening.

                                                In the end, I am fine with their prices and only commented to give others insight as to what it might cost them if they went. I hope that Boston can appreciate their perspective on dining and food. We are heading back this week for our 3rd visit.

                                                1. re: stradacouple
                                                  k
                                                  kate used to be 50 Jan 25, 2009 08:52 AM

                                                  Having grown up with an Interior Designer (and therefore having had to work for her too) design is truly a personal preference. I actually like contemporary, but I don't like "cold" which is how I view the Sensing and hotel spaces. I realize I was there on a Wednesday night after a snow storm (read gray snow on ground), but while the service, free nibble (got it right this time) and the wine were enjoyable, I really enjoyed my dinner across the street at the Waterfront Cafe.

                                              2. capeanne Jan 25, 2009 10:27 AM

                                                Between this post and the post on the above and beyond service at Bina you have inspired us to reserve at 2 new places this week...can't wait and thanks

                                                1. capeanne Jan 27, 2009 05:52 PM

                                                  First time tonite and we really liked it very very much. We sat at the chefs table facing the extremely busy kitchen.Everyone was warm and welcoming and we had some very good chats with the chefs. The only negative was that it took me until the end of the meal to figure out that my stool was height adjustable and they really swirl around too much ( motion sensitive... them, not me ) We started with a glass of white bordeaux and a sidecar. Pricey? yep $17, for Sidecar but I was forewarned and still enyoyed it and it was a glass full. Kitchen sent amuse of sea scallop and apple salad with some foam that I am not sure of. Scallop done perfectly , seared on the outside and just barely cooked through , apples and foam complimented beautifully. Bread and butter made me think I was back in Paris. There were 2 specials tonite and I had them both. 1) puree of parsnips served cold with steamed baby vegetables.Light , crisp and veggies done just right 2) duck confit . I need to explaln this dish as it was not like anything I had seen or eaten before. A cylindrical thick disk of confit topped with puree of squash topped with parmesean crisp. Side of braised swiss chard. If there is any criticism of this dish it is that they perhaps needed a differnet texture for the side as everyhting was " soft". But to add insult to softness I also got a side of olive oil mashed potatoes and I am glad I did . Not a puree but rather a rough mash served with a frisee on top. My entree was fabulous as the confit was savory and flavorful yet had hints of berries and ginger. DH had the sampler plate and gave me the coveted foie gras creme brulee. ( good husband ) and he had the red tuna and said it was fantastic. We shared the passion fruit cheesecake with mango sorbet as dessert and with a bottle of Burgundy we were sated. Everyone was warm and hospitable without being over bearing and it is clear that they are trying very hard to provide superior service. I wrote an earlier review of last night at Bina and we are debating which experience we loved more..An excellent addition to the Boston dining scene and we are back to Rice a Roni for the rest of the week Thanks to this Board for the reviews of Bina and Sensing...you caused us to try them ,we are very glad we did and look forwrad to our return

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: capeanne
                                                    capeanne Jan 27, 2009 06:04 PM

                                                    P.S. And while I agree that the bartending and cocktails at Eastern Stnd, Green St , Highland Kitchen may be superior and are cheaper, comparing them ( and they are some of our favorite weekly places ) to Sensing is like comparing apples to aircraft carriers

                                                  2. StriperGuy Jan 28, 2009 07:19 AM

                                                    Here's an interesting review on a local blog:

                                                    http://limeyg.blogspot.com/2009/01/se...

                                                    1. d
                                                      desertrose5418 Jan 28, 2009 07:37 AM

                                                      I went for the press dinner. My impressions:

                                                      - The cocktail prices are silly, but I don't think they're going out of their way to be arrogant or event to present something that is "novelty expensive". I really couldn't tell you why they're doing it. It may be that they're just trying to do something different for the rare person that can afford it.

                                                      I concur with MC Slim (as I generally do) that you can get a better and more interesting drink made at Drink, ES or Green Street, because those places have gone out of their way to hire people who really care and know their stuff. Sensing hasn't really attempted to seduce away any local talent in this regard, so don't expect anything great in your glass. It's mostly about the food here.

                                                      - FWIW, I liked the wine offerings we tried. (Sancerre Ladoucette, Comte Lafond, Savuignon, Val De Loire 2006 and Nuit St Georges Chaivenet ler Chiagnot, 2004) They don't have a sommelier (yet) but they seem to be managing.

                                                      On a related note, I have no idea why someone would say Boston is "just not a wine town". I know many people here who are passionate about wine, from sommeliers to chowhounds and everyone in between. The economy is likely affecting the "priorities" of the restaurants to whom consultants are trying to sell, but that doesn't mean you can then infer the "priorities" of individual drinkers, who are probably choosing to drink the good stuff at home where it's not marked up 50-100%.

                                                      - The decor is unimpressive. It feels bland. Not a "sensory" experience.

                                                      - The food is good. Very classic "French with a twist". But nothing you couldn't get in other parts of town.

                                                      - Guy Martin is adorable. But no, he won't be here in the restaurant much. He'll be flying to Boston a few times a year to talk menus with the staff, but for the most part he'll be managing his properties in France.

                                                      Hope this helps.

                                                      22 Replies
                                                      1. re: desertrose5418
                                                        WineAG Jan 28, 2009 08:18 AM

                                                        Thanks for the info. From what you say and the other comments, I haven't seen much to compel people to go to this place.

                                                        Yes, I stated that Boston is not a wine town. Of course those on this board are a select group... there is more interest in wine here... but this doesn't show up in the Boston dining base... wine is not a way of life here... even in the best of economic times. Ask restaurateurs in the area and you'll see they'll agree. Think there's a reason why there's a zillion wine bars in NYC, SF, and other places... but not ONE true wine bar in Boston!

                                                        Please know that I don't consult for any restaurants in Boston and have never solicited their business. FYI, I mainly consult for individual clients (advise and acquire wines for cellars they want to put in their homes)... actually, most of my clients are not local.

                                                        Truly, I wish there were more wine options in Boston. Places with well chosen lists that cared for the wines properly, served them properly, and a staff that had some knowledge about the wines they were pouring. Not many places like that around here (as we've already covered).

                                                        Maybe someone with a passion for wine will open a wine bar here some day? You'd think there'd be enough interest to support at least one.

                                                        Note: I'm now anticipating those who will now offer the names of places they think are wine bars (should be interesting).. since it's a little off topic... im gonna continue the discussion by opening another thread.

                                                        1. re: WineAG
                                                          limster Jan 28, 2009 09:47 AM

                                                          BTW, what do you think of the wine list at Atasca?

                                                          1. re: limster
                                                            WineAG Jan 28, 2009 10:27 AM

                                                            Never been to the restaurant. Just looked on line. Not familiar with a lot of these Portugeuse wines, but seems like a reasonable list to match the menu. Hey, any list with Mateus on it is ok by me.

                                                            1. re: WineAG
                                                              MC Slim JB Jan 28, 2009 01:58 PM

                                                              "Hey, hey, hey, Mateus Rose!" (My head is stuffed with advertising jingles from my youth.)

                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                WineAG Jan 28, 2009 03:31 PM

                                                                I was thinking of the same jingle. used to buy it when I was in college for around $2.50.... of course, don't forget the candle you'd stick in it afterwards... what memories.

                                                                1. re: WineAG
                                                                  k
                                                                  kate used to be 50 Jan 29, 2009 08:44 AM

                                                                  What memories - not sure they are good ones though.

                                                                  I have no idea what this place is like but it was reviewed in yesterday's Globe (haven't had an opportunity to read the review yet), but Tastings at Patriot Place is suppose to be a wine bar concept.

                                                                2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                  hotoynoodle Jan 30, 2009 07:17 AM

                                                                  sel de la terre has had mateus on the list -- as a joke, lol.

                                                              2. re: limster
                                                                cockscomb Jan 29, 2009 03:43 PM

                                                                haven't been to atasca but the wine list looks interesting. some good stuff like esperao, santar, luis pato. suprising though to only see one wine from bairrada but maybe just cuz i happen to like those wines. also noteably missing was santos lima but it's possible that it is not available in this state.
                                                                excellent value and well represented regionally. looks like another interesting wine place. glad you pointed it out limster!
                                                                anybody out there know if casa santos lima is available in mass?

                                                              3. re: WineAG
                                                                hotoynoodle Jan 30, 2009 07:49 AM

                                                                you seem to be ignoring the economic disparity and enormous difficulty of gaining a license in this town - even a limited wine and beer license. THAT is why there are so few wine bars. a wine/beer license is running about $125,000+ right now. IF you can find one. since the amount of licenses in the city is capped, one must be purchased from an existing business. in addition to the ridiculous amounts of power wielded by neighborhood associations, which are mostly peopled with stodgy locals who hate change.

                                                                bin 26 had to jump through hoops to open. part of their license states a patron MUST order food if ordering a glass of wine. even a tasting portion.

                                                                the city does nothing to open up breathing room for these sorts of smaller ventures.

                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                  WineAG Jan 30, 2009 08:21 AM

                                                                  hotoynoodle said,

                                                                  "you seem to be ignoring the economic disparity and enormous difficulty of gaining a license in this town - even a limited wine and beer license. THAT is why there are so few wine bars."

                                                                  I respectfully disagree... trust me, if there were a market for the product there would be wine bars. The barrier to entry is not a dealbreaker... and of course it's lower outside of the city of Boston.

                                                                  But the wine bar comment was just to reinforce the statement... "Boston is not a wine town." I stand by the comment...

                                                                  So, are you saying that you think Boston IS a wine town?

                                                                  1. re: WineAG
                                                                    hotoynoodle Jan 30, 2009 09:25 AM

                                                                    first you said you consult for restaurants, then you said you only consult for private owners. just curious which it is?

                                                                    in a country where very often your choice for wine by the glass is "red" or "white", i don't think our city should be ashamed. diners and wine drinkers have come a very long way in my 17-year career in fine dining here -- 10 of which i have spent as a sommelier and beverage director. are we nyc or san francisco? not by a long shot, but we are tiny in comparison.

                                                                    the cap on licenses is a stark reality here. if you can't buy a license, you cannot open your dream. fact. there are about 300 wine and beer licenses in boston. unless somebody is selling, there is effectively zero. licenses are sold to the highest bidder. i'm sorry, but $125k or more is a deal-breaker for many people who haven't even bought a fork or a chair yet. "build it & they will come" i think would be true, but i do think the cap and the economics are true barriers. we won't even go down the shady path recently illuminated by wilkerson's being charged with accepting a bribe to get somebody a license.

                                                                    do i wish there more places like bin 26? absolutely. however, i don't pretend clapping my hands will make it so. there are plenty of places i can go and enjoy a glass of wine and a small plate -- so i do.

                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                      WineAG Jan 30, 2009 10:02 AM

                                                                      So I don't see a real disagreement here. I have no gripes with the Boston restaurant scene. I don't see people complaining about things here... just observing. As you're someone in the business I don't have to explain the market to you.... you live it... actually we agree more than you think. So, I'm done talking about Boston as a wine town (I hope).

                                                                      BTW, you mention BINA a lot. I've never been and is one place that I'm psyched to try. All the talk about pricing on CH is not an issue and the place should not be pre-judged because of it.

                                                                      Thanks for asking about my business. If you read my posts carefully you'll see you don't have it exactly right. I said I consulted for restaurants... that's correct (and am currently working on an interesting restaurant/hotel project.. not in MA). I also stated the majority of the work I do is for individuals (private cellars)... never said ONLY individuals. Private cellars are more fun. They don't have as many constraints on the budget... and it's more of a personal type of thing than strictly business. Most of my clients are through referrals. Check out my web site to get a good picture of what the business is. Again, thanks for asking...

                                                                      www.wineag.com

                                                                      1. re: WineAG
                                                                        hotoynoodle Jan 30, 2009 10:55 AM

                                                                        run, do not walk, to bina. magic words: pig butter.

                                                                        and the owners are delightful.

                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                          cockscomb Jan 30, 2009 02:01 PM

                                                                          pig butter? like schmaltz.? how is it served?

                                                                          1. re: cockscomb
                                                                            hotoynoodle Jan 30, 2009 02:15 PM

                                                                            it's fat rendered from the pig confit mixed with a fruity extra virgin olive oil. it comes with a tiny sprig of thyme and 2 salts and is served with the bread.

                                                                            awesome.

                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                              capeanne Jan 30, 2009 02:27 PM

                                                                              To die for...I nearly cried

                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                limster Jan 31, 2009 07:56 AM

                                                                                How does it compare to the lard spread at Cafe Polonia?

                                                                                1. re: limster
                                                                                  hotoynoodle Jan 31, 2009 06:36 PM

                                                                                  never been to polonia, sorry.

                                                                                  1. re: limster
                                                                                    barleywino Feb 1, 2009 01:15 PM

                                                                                    i thought the lard spread at BIna was tastier than the one at Polonia fwiw

                                                                                    1. re: barleywino
                                                                                      limster Feb 1, 2009 01:52 PM

                                                                                      Cool - many thanks. Was curious and needed a benchmark.

                                                                                  2. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                    cockscomb Jan 31, 2009 11:29 AM

                                                                                    is that the "blue butter" referred to in the phoenix review?

                                                                                2. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                  f
                                                                                  fullbelly Jan 31, 2009 08:31 AM

                                                                                  Totally agree with that statement!

                                                                    2. j
                                                                      jody Jan 30, 2009 05:31 AM

                                                                      Ate there last night. Somewhat long post follows.
                                                                      First I'll preface this by saying that I really like restaurants that try to do interesting things (I'm a M.G. fan) and I really wanted to love this place despite the mixed reviews so far. My DH and I went last night for a celebratory dinner and although its not entirely fair to compare Sensing to L'Espalier, we were lucky enough to have been their recently, so I was definitely comparing them in my head. (and, I do realize that they have only been open 2 weeks, so still working out the kinks).

                                                                      We entered the hotel and approached the hostess, who was about to seat another couple. She looked at us and asked, "Do you have a reservation?" to which we replied that we did. So she said she had to seat someone else and would be back. When she returned she was very flustered and it turned there was another couple waiting so she then told us she had to seat them first and reconsidered and said that maybe she could just seat us as the same time, so she waived us all in, while muttering that everyone had arrived at the same time. Halfway into the room, she ordered us to stop because she was seating the other couple. At this point the manager intercepted us and seated us.

                                                                      The waitress promptly stopped by and asked if we would like a cocktail. We asked what sparkling wines they offered by the glass. She responded that they had Westport Rivers and "a German one". Not interested in either option, we waited for the menus and she brought us a list of wines by the glass. Turns out that the "German one" was Scharffenberger, a California wine. The menu also listed Taittinger, so we ordered a glass. At this point we are thinking that the place really does not yet have their act together. Though for the most part, service for the rest of the evening was efficient and pleasant. Oh, yea...one more rookie mistake. Wine list spelled a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, "Chateau Neuf Du Pape" (typos on the wine list? Get someone to proof read it).

                                                                      OK, the food
                                                                      Started with the Sensing Snack Plate (photo attached). The best item on the plate was a local oyster in granita of shallots and vinegar. Really great. The texture of the granita allowed the crisp flavor to be tasted together with the oyster -- much better than a liquid mignonette. Duck foie gras creme brulee was tasty. Lighter and foamer than expected. The other 4 options were OK but didn't blow me away. You have a choice of getting all 6 or 6 off the same. If I returned, I'd get 6 oysters. The Snacking Plate would be a good size appetizer for me, but perhaps on the light side for big eaters.

                                                                      We also ordered apps. The cauliflower and quince soup, previously mentioned. Very rich and warm and creamy. little on the bland side. Shrimp appetizer was great! One very large seared shrimp and a pile of shrimp tartar. Each had a different sauce/spice combination. The appettizer and both entrees had a very small amount of the accompanying sauce -- more of an artistic swirl, but in each case, they brought a small pitcher of the sauce on the side, so that you can add as much or as little as you wanted (I thought this was great).

                                                                      Entrees I had to try the smoked trout stuffed chicken with chorizo sauce and my DH had a perfectly cooked prime rib eye steak with Ras-El Hanout (apparently northern African spices). Both were very good. The chicken was a good example of a trend throughout the dinner. You expected to actually taste the smoked trout in the chicken, but you didn't; rather the chicken had a lot of smokey depth in flavor. I had a similar reaction to the maki on the snacking plate. In both cases, I had an expectation, based on the description of what it would taste like, which was wrong. The food was great, but I almost wished that they hadn't described the dish in as much detail because it was misleading.

                                                                      We were too stuffed for dessert. The manager was very nice to arrange for a cab for us and it came quickly.
                                                                      Price for 2 with 2 snacking plates, 2 apps, 2 entrees and 2 classes of wine (not including tip nor the subsquent bottle of wine) was about $200.

                                                                      Oh, and I though the room was much more attractive/warmer that the photos on their web site.

                                                                      I'll try it again because I know innovation is tough, but I'll wait a while for them to shake out the kinks in the service.

                                                                       
                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jody
                                                                        s
                                                                        sailorblue Feb 1, 2009 12:47 PM

                                                                        We ate at Sensing last night. I was a little concerned having read some negative reviews that we were going to be disappointed but thankfully, our night out ended up being very enjoyable. After handing over the keys to the valet ($15), we were met in the lobby by the host who seemed to be expecting us (likely because their were only 3 other reservations and we were first arrive-- surprising for a Saturday night). We were then seated and greeted immediately by our waiter who addressed us as Mr and Mrs "last name" and seeing that we were wearing dark clothing, exchanged our white napkins for black ones (a nice touch) and then asked if we wanted drinks. We ordered wine by the glass which we enjoyed. Bread came in the form of individually served french baguette rolls which tasted like Iggys. For dinner we ordered a snacking plate, the cauliflower soup with bagel chip (made with soy which I note for any lactose intolerant chowhounds), steak and peanut encrusted lamb. Not interested in the cheese and sage maki on the snacking plate, our waiter was happy to swap it for an extra foie gras. I agree with Jody's review of the plate and soup.The plate was interesting but items such as the foie were lighter and closer to foam than expected. The bagel chip in the soup was an interesting touch, although we wondered if it was just a way to use up stale bagels. Dinner was great and both the lamb and steak were cooked perfectly. As for sides, the steak came with eggplant fries that were amazing!! and the lamb came with gnocci that were okay. We did enjoy that both plates came with extra sides of sauce. In addition, our the kitchen sent out 2 complementary sides of mashed potatoes. For dessert, we split the caramel pie with peanut butter ice cream (a small single pie crust filled with caramel and topped with a light brittle) which was a nice balance of sweet and salty. At the end of the meal we were given what looked like a mint but turned into a mini-hot towel after our waiter poured water on it. The check came with 2 chocolate truffles and gellees.

                                                                        Service was very attentive (possible because we were the only customers for most of our dinner), friendly and professional. Not at the refined level as L'Espalier as others have said but it is clear that they are trying very hard and we had no complaints. As for the atmosphere, its definitely a hotel restaurant and we were surprised that the architects didn't take advantage of the waterfront location in their design. That being said, the lighting, sound level of background music, seating, etc made for a comfortable experience.

                                                                        1. re: sailorblue
                                                                          lipoff Mar 25, 2009 05:13 PM

                                                                          Tried Sensing the other night. Quite good impression overall, although for the price it's not quite good enough. Not yet, any way.

                                                                          First of all, I don't know what other people are saying about the decor, but it is very beautiful. I think definitely one of the best looking modern dining rooms in the city. The hotel itself is quite beautiful as well, with nice views, even at night, out onto the water.

                                                                          Service was very polite and knowledgeable, but a little slow, especially considering the restaurant was literally empty except for our party of four at 8:30 PM on a Tuesday night. They seemed a little experienced, so they had to try very hard to do everything just right. The service didn't have the effortless feel of the very best staffs.

                                                                          Cocktail menu is interesting, although quite expensive. The French 75 was terrific. The cucumber and pomegranate mojito was interesting as well, but it was really just pomegranate and lime soda with a splash of rum --- neither the cucumber nor the mint was at all muddled, so it made for a beautiful decoration, but didn't add to the taste. Another DC really enjoyed several interesting red wines by the glass that our server suggested.

                                                                          The best dish was the "Sampling Platter" which had six terrific amuse-bouche style appetizers. Each is very small -- a single mouthful really. The best of which was the panko-crusted tuna with white and black sesame, pickled ginger and lemongrass. Each of us ordered one platter individually, although they are $19 each.

                                                                          The cauliflower and quince soup is nothing to write home about -- the quince was undetectable.

                                                                          As for entrees, we were disappointed by the cod and the tuna --- the flavors were excellent, but neither fish was particularly good.

                                                                          However, the steak and the duck dishes were both really terrific. The steak was an outstanding cut of meat with terrifically freshly made BBQ sauce. The duck breast was lacquered and succulent, and the duck confit in phylo dough was an interesting twist. Parsnips were excellent as well.

                                                                          The kitchen sent out two orders of mixed winter vegetables on the house, which hit the spot very nicely.

                                                                          Another true winner was the lemon and yuzu dessert --- several different citrus custards and a lemon sorbet served in an interesting in a bulbous glass.

                                                                          Tea service was disappointing --- a small selection of unremarkable tea bags, although the tea pot was a beautiful, modern design.

                                                                          Overall, if one had the appetizer sampler, the duck or steak, and the lemon yuzu dessert, one would leave very happy. If one had the cauliflower soup, the cod, a mojito and tea, one would have paid approximately the same price for something mediocre.

                                                                          1. re: lipoff
                                                                            WineAG Mar 26, 2009 07:58 AM

                                                                            Not a very glowing endorsement of this high end newcomer... seems like they still have quite a ways to go. Was looking for more at this point... so will avoid till I hear they have their act together... if they ever do. Thanks for the update as we haven't heard about Sensing in a while.

                                                                      2. k
                                                                        kimfair1 May 10, 2009 08:13 AM

                                                                        The wife and I went to Sensing for the first time the other evening. I was a bit worried after spending 15 minutes on the phone trying to confirm my reservation, but things started off quite well. We went with apps of spring pea soup and the crusted tuna. My wife ordered the soup and the two spoonfuls I had were quite good. My tuna was excellent with shaved asparagus and a great spice sauce.

                                                                        We also got a half order of the green risotto to split, and they split it for us in the kitchen. Also really nice. Entrees were the lemongrass steamed day boat cod for my wife (outstanding - and I usually am not a huge cod fan), and the roast tenderloin of veal for me. The veal came with a light mustard sauce, ramps, and trumpet mushrooms. Very good. Finally dessert was the lemon ice/jelly/cookie thing (really good) for the wife, and I had the orange scented panna cotta with fresh fruit. (also excellent).
                                                                        What wasnt really excellent was the service. We waited almost until the apps were served to get our cocktails (no one sitting at the bar - very few tables filled). I tried to get a first glass of wine for me, and a second for my wife, but had to wait until the entrees came before I could order them (where's my waiter?). The wine didn't arrive until I was nearly done with my veal, and I was purposly eating slowly so I'd have some food left when the wine arrived. Also we had to ask for silverware when the entrees were dropped off. Once again a potentially excellent meal in Boston almost ruined by crappy service.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: kimfair1
                                                                          rlove May 23, 2009 06:20 AM

                                                                          kimfair1, thank you for the review.

                                                                          We still haven't made it to Sensing and this sort of sloppy service pushes my inevitable visit back further. In all honesty, the sort of service you witnessed--no silverware, absent waiter, late-arriving wine--is absolutely unacceptable at a restaurant of Sensing's price point and chef-backing. By now, they've been open long enough they are not still ironing out the kinks. They weren't crowded. Just lazy.

                                                                          1. re: rlove
                                                                            rlove Sep 8, 2009 11:10 AM

                                                                            So we went, and my negative tone being one of the latter posts on this thread, I thought I should post an update: We really enjoyed our meal, both the food and the experience.

                                                                            Quick review:

                                                                            We sat outside, on the little patio with a view of the inner harbor and Coast Guard base. It isn't as bad as it sounds; we enjoyed the spot, the view, and the breeze.

                                                                            I had a Negroni to start that was properly crafted, although served straight up, a variant I've never favored. My DC had a drink off of the cocktail menu that she enjoyed.

                                                                            Our apps were excellent. Notably, I had a gazpacho of something surprising (memory failing me) with a ricotta filling. Innovative and it worked. My DC had a the sampler platter, most of which was excellent. For my entree, I had quail with coffee, which was excellent. Perfectly cooked, and the coffee, which was almost infused into the meat (marinated, perhaps?) was a surprisingly-good pair to the bird.

                                                                            We had a Chablis that was excellent, albeit rather overpriced.

                                                                            Desserts were very good.

                                                                            Service was good.

                                                                            The chef was making the rounds, which was a nice touch.

                                                                            They weren't as busy as you'd hope for a Saturday night, but if they last we will be back. I left happy and full and, outside of the wine and cocktail list, the prices are fair.

                                                                        Show Hidden Posts