Another No. 9 Park Review (it's long)
I just went to No. 9 Park last night (2/24/09) to celebrate me and my boyfriend's one year anniversary and the service as well as the food was truly outstanding. A perk that I haven't noticed before with any restaurant was just the coat check. I handed the woman my coat and I was not given a ticket or number in return... three hours later when we were about to leave, I saw the same check coat lady dive into the closet after seeing me and she came out with my coat. I love the fact they just know or set up a system to give people's coats back without needing to give numbers out.
My boyfriend and I both were seated in the back dining room, which very cozy and warm and we opted to do the 7 course tasting menu, which later ended up being a 9 course dinner. We didn't realize that we had to choose between the prune stuffed gnocchi OR the duet of artisanal foie gras so we decided we wanted both (since I've heard a lot of great things about both) so we dropped dessert and they charged us a little extra for having both.
Now for our meal: my boyfriend and I both ordered cocktails, the Palmyra and No 10. I've never been much of a mixed drink fan (too many sick nights from it, my body has this strange aversion to strong tastes of alcohol), but my Palmyra was really smooth and refreshing. The rain vodka used in it was very good, it went down as if it were water. When I tried the no. 10 however, the gin automatically hit me and I could not really enjoy the drink. Later on in the evening, I ordered a beer- the Whale’s Tale Pale Ale from Nantucket and it was great.
First course was the Scottish Salmon Tartare with avocado, garlic, and yuzu, which was one of our favorites of the night. It was very light, delicate and delicious... I would even put up their tartare against Mistral's famous tuna tartare.
Second Course was the Tai Red Snapper with dashi, pickled ginger, and baby bok choy. From the additional ingredients, it did taste like something from a Japanese restaurant. The Snapper itself was pretty tasteless, but combining it with the little shavings of ginger, it did make the dish much better. They even threw in a free glass of wine for this course. I wish I could remember the name, but they did say it was a wine that the folks of Pompeii were drinking the night the Vesuvius erupted, killing them all. That is how the waiter said it. The wine was a white wine, and it tasted wonderful. It doesn't have that strange after taste the some white wines have (usually the cheaper ones that us college kids usually drink) The wine was great but the dish itself was just okay.
Third course was the Peekyote Crap Ravioli with green garlic, Meyer lemon, and bacon. This was another favorite of the night. I remember reading somewhere that Barbara Lynch is very good with stuffed pastas and I cannot help but agree. We were given three voluptuous raviolis and they were cooked perfectly. The crab tasted wonderful and the outer pasta shell was very soft.
The fourth fifth courses were the Prune Stuffed Gnocchi and duet of Foie Gras, respectively. These two dishes were definitely the best of the night. The prune stuffed gnocchi was delicious, and we both did enjoy the sweetness of the prunes up against the taste of the seared foie gras on top. I think the hype for dish can be attributed to the fact that it’s just so different from any other dish one may try. They really took a different spin on French/ Italian ingredients and the outcome is just a perfect marriage of textures and tastes. The duet of foie gras was two difference types- seared and a pate-like. The helping for this particular dish was particularly large and I was really surprised by this, and very thankful after taking my first bite. I would have to say I preferred the seared over the pate, but my boyfriend insists that both were equally good. It was his first time trying foie gras so I was really pleased that he enjoyed it so much.
The sixth course was the Pan roasted pouissin with a braised leg, grits, and Perigord truffles. The chicken was good, well cooked (maybe slightly overcooked), and pretty tasteless. The sides are what made this dish decent, but that’s the best I can describe this dish- decent.
The seventh course was the Confit Pork Belly, sauce romesco, chickpeas, haricot. This was my least favorite meal of the evening… I don’t like pork, especially done in this style. I’ll try to give you a comparison to something else maybe you’ve tried before: okay, have you ever been to a Colombia restaurant and tried the burnt to a crisp chicharones (that us how they are supposed to be prepared)? Wee this meal tasted just like that… Meat was very very chewy and crunchy and I did not like it. John (the bf) didn’t think it was that bad, but he also says it was the low point of the dinner.
The eighth course was the Selection of Artisanal Cheeses:
Greta’s Fair Haven, Massachusetts
Winnemere, Jasper Hill Farms, Vermont
Beringse Gouda, Belgium
They were all very good. If you come here, you always have to try the cheese cart because all of their cheeses just taste amazing. We tried to stay away from “funky” tasting cheeses and went for just the smooth, creamy ones (aside from the gouda). The Winnemere was my favorite. It had this sort of earthy (but in a good way) and creamy taste to it that just lingered in your mouth. Our waiter had told us that it was a favorite of his so we were glad to have tried it.
And there was a surprise nine course- dessert! Haha. The waiter had asked us after the cheese if we were going to order desert and we felt way too stuffed to want to go on so we said no. Five minutes go by and the waiter started setting our table again with new silverware (ps after each course, they changed all the silverware, everytime, despite whether or not you even used your spoon or knife). We were pleasantly surprised when they came out with the Satsuma Tangerine Sorbet with blood orange ice. They had written “Happy Anniversary” on each of our plates in chocolate and it was all a very nice touch. Extra Points here: they even gave us another glass of wine, this time a sparking red because they wanted us to have something to toast with.
We got the bill ($360 with tip), accompanied with three sets of chocolates and candies (John at this point could not even push himself to eat anymore, but I had to try it- two thumbs up), and then the waiter gave us each an envelope explaining that it was a printed menu of all that we ate/ drank…. Haha and that, ladies and gentleman, is the reason why I seem to have “remembered” so much. It was an outstanding restaurant for a special occasion- great food and service. I went to L’Espalier for John’s birthday a couple months ago and that’s no longer my favorite… the new location just took something away from the experience- just gotta have a brownstone restaurant.
Mmm.... Crap Ravioli. Barbara Lynch MUST be very good with stuffed pasta to make that taste good.
I love No. 9, too. I just wish it weren't overpriced so I could have an actual dinner there instead of only cheese and cocktails at the bar, but even that is a heavenly experience.
Never mind the typos; it was a fabulous report; thank you! Chowhound lets you edit your posts for an hour or two after you originally post them, and then they are cast in stone.
I have to agree that the service at No. 9 might be the very best in Boston. I'm also pleased to see that the bartending hasn't lost a step, despite the departure of the all-stars to Drink. The new team can hold their heads high.
Really nice report, Snoop! Sounds like a wonderful evening. By the way, I suspect the "strange after taste" that was absent in your white wine was oak. A lot of cheap white wines, especially chardonnay, are overwhelmed by oak flavor. When I was young I thought all white wines tasted that way, and boy am I glad they don't!