Winter 2009 Restaurant Week Reviews
Figured I'd start things off with a positive review of Rialto last night. Three of us had a very satisfying dinner, exceeding my admittedly low expectations for the evening. (I'd last had dinner at Rialto a couple years ago, non-RW, and was quite disappointed. However, a good bar small plates experience a couple months ago moved me to give them another try...)
For the first course two of us had the mushroom soup with horseradish cream -- good mushroom flavor. I had the spring greens risotto, which was flavorful but a bit oversalted for my taste. The soup won that round. There were several other first course options, including two salads, and an antipasti plate.
For the second course our table had the atlantic mackerel (nicely done on a carrot puree blend), a whole trout (also nicely done) and a grilled sliced flank steak with a small stack of polenta, mozz, and grilled eggplant (the steak was perfectly medium-rare, and just the right level of chewiness and beefy-ness.)
For dessert we had one of each of the three choices -- a chocolate torte (standard but good, not overly sweet), pineapple sorbet with coconut cream (refreshing and light), and orange panna cotta with a slice of orange-almond cake (deceptively light and refreshing with the citrus notes.)
All in all, the dinner was quite good, and we left feeling full but not about to burst.
Went ot Villa Francesca last night for RW (first time there). First course my DC had the Caeser salad (nice, but not spectacular), I had the lobster ravioli, quite good if just up to the edge of fishiness in a dish I can take. Dc had a veal eggplant dish that came with yummy potatoes and spinach. I had a perfectly cooked pork chop with mashed potatoes and broccoli rabe (as well as two small spinach ravioli). Dessert were uninspiring, an ok creme brulee, and an small and only OK cannoli. Service was fine. My only issue would be going back. The ravioli were good, but they are $18.95 on the regular menu, and it didn't look to me that you get any more (I got two on my plate). The veal dish my wife had was $30 on the reg menu. A bit pricy for what it was.
Went to Olives last night for dinner (menu is online). Good service (although a bit rushed at the end, we probably had the last reservation, it's a pet peeve of mine to have servers take away plates before everyone at the table is done). Had the seafood soup to start - tasty lobster toast with a nice piece of lobster tail. Soup was OK - nothing distinguishable about it. I tried the clams app as well and it was good, but my friend who had the eggplant/lamb/goat cheese dish chose wisely. The combination of flavors and textures worked perfectly. I had the scallops for dinner, which were very good and perfectly cooked (although nothing outstanding/original). One DC's beef was overcooked, but the other two DC"s beef were OK. (On a side note, waiter overheard her say that it was overcooked and offered to bring out another piece. She said it wasn't necessary though - I expected him to do something for her, but he didn't). Dessert - the beignets were great, collapsed wonderfully when bitten in to, the sauces were interesting. I had the lemon chiffon cake which came with the most delightful coconut marshmallows. The entire dish was quite good as a whole.
All in all, Olives was a good experience, it's easy to find parking although a pain to get to, and I would go back non-RW.
Had a wonderful dinner at La Morra last night. They are doing RW in a different way this year. Full menu. Can order 3 courses for $33.09 or get anything that you want a la carte. Basically the whole menu is available - just pick one thing from each category. I was much happier not having to order a main course by the time I got done with the Cicchetti (polpetti, arancini and pickled veggies), the cauliflower app, and the pasta (an amazing parsnip ravioli with pancetta and oyster mushrooms). It was all amazing. Great service at the bar - including a lovely little amuse buche from the kitchen.
We went to Bina Osteria last night: we started with a breadbasket accompanied by 'pig butter' -- a small bowl of lard (i think?) infused with deep herbal flavors -- quite addictive. then we had the calamari salad and parsnip soup for appetizers, both were excellent, though the calamari almost tasted raw, which was fine for me but some may find off-putting. for mains we had the pasta e fagioli -- the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente but lacked real flavor and had a grainy sauce; we also had the pollo al diavolo, which was also under-flavored, and came in a strangely pale tubular form. while the presentation was artful, none of the sauces on the plate added anything to the limp tube of chicken. dessert was a nice change of pace: we tried all three, the poached pear (fantastic), panna cotta (quite good and generously portioned) and orange crostata (great for citrus lovers). service was excellent -- attentive without being obtrusive. they also have a list of 10+ wines for $33/bottle -- we had the cortese, which was good but not remarkable (have had excellent wines at Bin 26, so was a bit disappointed in the selection). all in all, a very pleasant experience with the odd exception of some pretty bland main courses. the menu seems quite different from their regular dinner menu, so I wonder if they didn't make some poor choices for restaurant week entrees. given how much more expensive it is on a regular (non-resto-week) night, i'm not sure I'd return, except maybe for a drink and dessert.
We went to BiNA last night, and all 3 of us were VERY pleased with the RW.
2 of us got the Pasnip soup, which I thought was heavenly. The added basil oil was nice, as was the toasted almonds. My husband got the calamari which he really enjoyed.
For entrees, 2 of us got the Blue Cod. Very, very good. The fish was super fresh and just delicious. I think the sauce was leek/potato puree which was nice but a bit salty. The fish came with some "foam". 1 person got the pasta, which she liked. She said the sauce was nice yet not heavy.
I had the panna cotta for dessert. It's so huge that I couldn't finish. I thought the vanilla flavor was a bit bland.
Service was really good, even though we were cheapskates (1 beer, 1 tea and that's it for drinks). Not sure if we would go back outside of RW mainly because of the prices.
Hey everyone! I'm going to Radius tomorrow and Meritage next week for RW, and would love to hear recommendations from anyone who has already gone during RW.
Thanks so much!
Went to Ivy in Downtown Crossing a few days ago for dinner with friends. They had many of their menu options on their RW Menu: pick three courses from three boxes, dessert was a scoop of gelato. The food was good (the meatballs were my favorite of the evening but the truffle arancini were really good too), but it seemed like they messed up the timing of some of our dishes. Since Ivy is usually small plates, sometimes two "courses" came out at the same time. Perhaps we should have been clearer that we weren't going to be sharing the dishes, but some of the things we all ordered didn't really lend themselves to sharing anyway (chicken saltimboca springs to mind). They also ran out of scallops by 7 o'clock. I'd probably try them out again (their wine list was diverse and affordable) and stick to a more traditional small plates style of eating.
The restaurant wasn't very crowded at all when we were there, which I found surprising. Has anyone else noticed the same thing?
Has anyone done the RW menu at Asana? I have a reservation for lunch, but am thinking of cancelling it...
I ate at Oceanaire last night - excellent experience. I posted a more detailed review in the thread titled "Oceanaire - Nails It Again".
Had an excellent meal at Meritage last night -- I had high expectations going in and it did not disappoint.
Amuse bouche was a sake-cup-sized onion soup -- nice savory way to kick things off.
First course, I had a smoke salmon, avocado, creme fraiche starter that came with some perfectly dressed frisse -- it was lovely and rich, and the Clos du Bois chardonnay went very nicely with it. My DC has a pork tenderloin stuffed with goat cheese -- quite a bit more substantial than my dish but excellent in a different way. The wine (part of the $17/pp wine pairing addition, there was one wine chosen for each course rather than each dish, if that makes sense) did not go as well with the pork, but was still lovely.
Second course was a petite filet with a horseradish cream and red wine reduction with broccoli rabe and carrots. The first bit of the dish was amazing -- the sauce was already applied to the top of the steak, and there was just the right note of slightly piquant horseradish, and rich red wine. The last bites were not quite as amazing as the first, probably due to taste bud overload. There was also a bit of mashed potato and a potato galette/chip on top. Really a wonderful dish, one of the tastiest I've had anywhere much less during RW. My DC had a duck breast and ravioli with leeks dish which was very good. In both cases the duck and filet were perfectly cooked to the requested medium rare. A glass of Barbera accompanied the second course -- again, it was a bit more well suited to my dish, and risked overpowering the duck/ravioli at times.
Final course, I had the "red fruit tasting plate" -- a small raspberry tart, a cherry panna cotta, and a third item I'm blanking on. My DC had the citrus tasting plate -- orange rice pudding, lemon ricotta cake, lemon curd crepes. A glass of Fonseca tawny port completed the course. I preferred the citrus plate over mine -- the raspberries and cherries were a bit overpowering, and the citrus more delicate. But I still ate every bite off my plate.
Service was impeccable - we never at all felt rushed, just well taken care of. Even though we ate at a leisurely pace, the service was so efficient (in the best sense of the word) that we were done in less than 2 hours. I'd definitely return during non-RW.
Went to Tempo in Waltham (after feeling unwelcome at La Campania despite fact restaurant was nearly empty). Food was good to very good. I had asparagus/prosciutto and mozzarella appetizer. Pretty good, prosciutto tasted dull though. Nicely presented. Then a filet mignon prepared just as I had requested. Dessert was a modern German chocolate cake -- good but not great, except the extra caramel sauce was wonderful. I ate everything, however. DC had the oyster first course, loved it, the duck entree (very good and cooked to order without a struggle), and same dessert. Nice atmosphere and absolutely STELLAR service from our waitress.
Off topic but...
I hesitate to criticize La Campania and I still recommend it but I did have a very bad service experience on my last visit , several years ago, and have not since returned. I'm sure that I complained here, at the time, but Lucymax said "unwelcome" and that is exactly what I felt. I not surprised they had a crappy RW attitude. Having said all that, I find their food really delicious.
I love Meritage's "themed" tasting-plate desserts ... what a cool concept. On the one occasion I ate there, the service was a class act (including our server warning us away from less-popular menu items) ... so I'm not surprised that even during RW they'd excel in that area. In general I'd think RW would be a great time to dine at Meritage, as our total came to close to $300 for a party of four.
Two friends and I went to Oceanaire on Wed. and had a fun meal. The room is beautiful but that seems to be the case with most former bank spaces. Everyone working there was very friendly, and they seem to have reasonably priced bar snacks, so a place to keep in mind for that. As mentioned elsewhere, they bring a plate of veggies and pickled herring to start. It was on ice which seemed odd for the vegetables, the herring was good. I had asked for a cucumber martini but it didn't really seem much different than a regular one (but w/ a piece of cuke on the glass) so I switched to pinot grigio without a problem. Friends enjoyed their cosmo and gin martini. Apps were weakest, my caesar salad had very little dressing (and this from someone who orders sauces on the side), boring. Clam chowder was fine but no big deal, fried calamari was tasty altho could have been crisper. I got the infamous crabcakes and they are indeed all crab with like 1/2 oz of bread crumbs. The swordfish w/ caramelized onions and flounder stuffed w/ crab and brie both were good. Like a steakhouse, sides don't come w/ the meal but their various sides are very well priced. Sauteed spinach was just $3.95 and a "small" hash browns was $4.95. My god, those were amazing, maybe the favorites of the meal, nice and crisp on the outside and just done very well. Good to have in this hash brown deprived part of the country. NY Cheesecake key lime pie were okay but at that point, I was dying and the bits of walking to and from the subway wasn't nearly enough.
Last nite was Terramia which was not jammed as you'd expect for a small place during Rest. Week. I had a nice meal but I think my friend made the better choices. I did love the spinach salad w/ gorgonzola and figs, one of the best salads I've had lately. His chestnut soup seemed very nice from my tiny fork taste. The ravioli were stuffed w/ figs I think and definitely on the sweet side, and the sauce seemed a little oily. His bolognese was great as was the main of pork w/ spinach and potato puree. My risotto w/ crab and rock shrimp was very nice but I was looking longingly at the pork. Wasn't nearly as full with this meal, maybe cuz it was just two ravioli in that course. Pinto grigio and cab sav were fine. Our waiter added in the tip wrong and everyone was joking that he's going for his MBA in accounting. All Italians working there I think. So a good meal but could have been better if I didn't insist on ordering a different dish. But also trying not to eat much meat before Argentina, so two mostly fish meals is the way to go.
Seafood and "hash browns" brings to mind Bacalhau a Braz which is served with straw potatoes or potato sticks. Portugalia fries them fresh and its one of the salt cod items they offer on the lunch menu (I think $7.95). Keep in mind the dish has a lot of egg, so its not for everyone, bacalhau a gomez de sa is better for those who think it weird, but the fresh straw potatoes do take it to another level.
copied from my other thread about EVOO restaurant week...
I loved the scallops with mushroom flan and would go there just for this dish.
However, there was a bit of confusion over my friend's entree, as we debated between the fried catfish on a special house made "chili" (the dish was named "surf and turf") and the chicken with plantains. We were talked into the catfish, but when the food arrived, we had the chicken. We notified the server, and we told her it was fine to just have the chicken, but she insisted that she'd have a special bowl of the chili for us, since she had advertised it to us. We politely refused but thought it was such a nice gesture of her to make sure it became part of our meal. HOWEVER, when the bill came, we were charged $8 for a very mediocre bowl of "chili" - it was awkwardly sweet, a bit watery, and then the spice hits you later. We were pretty upset that we ended up being charged for something that seemingly was on the house, due to a mistake in the order that was taken.
Service wise, we thought the server was trying to be helpful, but in the end we were very put off by the chili. We didn't bother to bring it up because we were in a rush to leave and didn't really know how to approach the situation.
The host at the front was a rude and gave me a lecture about leaving a message regarding my reservation. I had called and left a message to change it from a party of 3 to 2, and he gave me a really hard time about not speaking to someone in person. He went to great lengths to explain how I needed to speak to an actual person and not just leave a message. Honestly, he seemed very annoyed, and I was embarrassed in front of my friend.
After a wonderful meal at Meritage on Wed night, last night three of us went to Craigie on Main for their "anti-restaurant week special" (e.g. the $39 Neighborhood Menu 3 course prix fixe.) The food was excellent -- we had the mussels and pork rillettes as the starters (those and salad were the three choices), one of us had the skate wing and two of us had the roasted chicken breast (which were perhaps the best example of the dish that I've ever had -- juicy, tender, well seasoned, crispy skin.) We had three different desserts (chef's choice) -- mini profiteroles with banana ice cream (tastier than the last time I'd had this here), and... I confess I've forgotten the other two dishes, as I was on my second cocktail (excellent of course) at that point...
The service, for the first time in my experience with Craigie, was a bit disappointing (coincidentally or not, it was my first time also in the dining room of the new space rather than in the bar area. The server was a bit too obvious about trying us to order more expensive items, and seemed to noticeably lose interest when all three of us ordered the $39 menu. He did succeed in getting us to get the $8 potatoes-roasted-in-duck-fat dish, which was well worth the cost, and also perked up when two of us ordered a second round of cocktails. Most oddly, while the gracious hostess seated us in advance of the 3rd member of our party arriving, the waiter refused to bring us menus until our party was complete. He said it so matter-of-factly that we were too stunned to respond -- has anyone ever encountered this before? What could be the rationale for this??
All in all, it was a great dinner food-wise, but gave me a small twinge of doubt at whether the Craigie folks are taking the heavy business they still have in this economy for granted (the bar was packed, the dining room reasonably full at around 8pm). It also reminded me that though I prioritize food above decor and service in a restaurant, having service that doesn't meet your expectations can definitely impact how you feel about the meal overall.
We went last evening to Avila, our second RW meal there in 3 years. It was crazy when we walked in about 7, but we were seated for our reservation right away. We ordered a bottle of wine, but they didn't have it, then a guy from another table came by to interrupt our waiter, because he gave his credit card to the hostess, and was loking for it. About 5 minutes later our waiter returned with another comperable bottle of wine, but someone else interuppted him, and he and the wine disappeared again. The wife and I were getting a bit antsy, but the waiter arrived apologetic, with wine in hand, opened it, and took our order. About 2 minutes later a plate of yummy goat cheese croquettes arrived as a sorry from the owner who came by to apologize for how long it took us to get our wine.
We ordered some of their small plates as an adjunct to the RW meal, some great yucca fries w/chorizo aoili, olives, and serrano ham. Next the wife got the endive salad which she enjoyed, and I got the gnocchi w/braised short ribs. The meat had been shredded and tossed with the gnocchi. This was very good, if a small portion. I would have been happy with twice as much gnocchi and no entree.
The wife and I each had the rack of lamb entree, which was good, but by far and away the weakest part of the meal. She had the mixed fruit dessert, and I had their panna cotta, which I think is one of the best in the city.
After all the early troubles, the service was excellent. The other entree choices were salmon and cod (with a $10 supplement).
We had a *pretty* good dinner at Dbar on Friday night. I had never been, really liked the atmosphere and the menu looked great too. There were 4 of us, I think everyone enjoyed their food; 2 of us ordered off of the RW menu. I started with a broccoli soup and mini grilled cheese sandwich --sort of a twist on the tomato soup/grilled cheese combo that seems to be popular these days on restaurants app menus; it was good. Followed by a ribeye with fries which didn't quite measure up. First thing I noticed was fries were lukewarm --this is such a pet peeve of mine --if I'm gonna eat fries, I want them to be hot and good -- so I let the server know. He took my entire dish --even though I suggested that maybe I keep the dish and he just bring me a side of hot fries --so I could eat with my friends --but instead I ended up waiting a few minutes for a new plate. So, when it came, the fries were good --hot and seasoned with rosemary and a few other spices. Personally I'm a fries purist and just like salt, but i know lots like them this way, so that's fine. The ribeye --a bit of a letdown --fatty and not all that flavorful, really. My friend ordered off the RW menu and got a NY strip that was much better. Leaner, much more flavorful --I sort of wish I ordered that, instead. For dessert, the ubiquitous creme brulee --something I rarely order these days but this one was done right, very good. The place was rocking, the service was pretty good (though a bit harried), and overall, it was a good night -in spite of the disappointing ribeye, I'd head back there.
Really nice RW experience at Catch in Winchester (and I am not a fan of RW).
From their website:
For apps, the four of us sampled:
Ray's Louisiana Oyster Pan Roast, Roasted Red Peppers, Yukon Potato, Leeks,
House Smoked Finnan Haddie Veloute - 3 plump oysters - lots of good flavor.
Potato Gnocchi, Pistachio Pesto, Winter Greans, Parmesan - plate was cleaned - did not sample.
Boston Bibb Lettuce, Great Hill Blue, Maple Roasted Grapes, Almonds, Cider Vinaigrette - a fine salad.
Special of salt-roasted clams, Oregano Mojo, Chorizo Breadcrumbs, Seared Lemon sampled one - was just ok to me, but my DC liked them.
Two of us had the Grilled Maine Scallops, Warm Chickpea Salad, Arugula, Lemon Vinaigrette - simple preparation - perfectly cooked three large scallops.
Norwegian Salmon, Creamy French Green Lentils, Portabella Mushrooms,
Jim Cook's Chantenay Carrots - nice piece of grilled salmon with translucent crispy skin.
Another special - grilled shrimp over a lemon risotto - the comment was that the DC found the lemon flavor REALLY strong, but she liked it. That's not quite a win.
Taza Organic Stone Ground Chocolate Fondue, Fresh Berries, Pound Cake - nothing wrong with fondue.
Roasted Bosc Pear, Toasted Hazelnut-Brown Butter Cake, WildFlower Honey Ice Cream - my favorite of the desserts.
Chocolate-Espresso Affogato - Chocolate Semifreddo, Vanilla Gelato, Crushed Amaretti Cookie - didn't see a cookie - but still good.
Very good service - we were definitely not rushed.
This was my first visit and it was chosen for convenience and general interest and not because of RW - based purely on the meal, it accomplished what a RW meal should - put the best food foot forward and makes me want to return for the regular menu.
re: Bob Dobalina
BTW, just wanted to highlight how delightful the dessert options were. No cheesecake, brownie sundae or key lime pie in the house. You could argue that the fondue was an easy one, sure - but the other desserts actually required more than a modicum of thought and execution you don't typically find on RW menus.
I went to Rialto last night and agree that they are doing a great job this year during RW. There were four of us who sampled widely across the RW menu, and nobody complained about anything they were served. The service was perhaps a few notches below what you might usually expect there -- mostly having to with delays in our drinks reaching us, which the server quickly and apologetically rectified -- but we still went away very happy.
Gargoyles on the Square - Fri 3/20. We snagged an 8:15 reservation at about 7:00 pm. I thought that was great! Then we arrived and realized they either a) had a problem with their system or b) purposefully overbooked or c) had most tables taking much, much longer than expected. We didn't get seated until 1 hour after our reservation time. Waited by the extremely crowded bar, then were confused when we tried to sit and were told by the bartender that people were waiting for those seats. I can understand holding seats for people in such a crowded space (we were told to move twice by 2 servers...we were in the way), but at the same time it was embarrasing and confusing to sit down to the bar and then have to stand up again.
Dinner went better. Although we were brought the wrong wine (both what we ordered and what we were served were Italian and we didn't look too closely at the label), it was the same price, and we didn't notice until we'd already drunk at least a glass. I had the green pea soup with bbq brisket and DH had the onion and tomoto tart. The soup was interesting, in typical Gargoyles fashion--it's never mind-blowing, but innovative in a Top Chef kind of way. I gobbled it right down since we were so hungry after our wait. DH was less impressed with his tart...he may have said something about it being like pizza with with greens on top...but I can't quite recall. I had the salmon for my entree and he had the duck. We were both pleased. For dessert, the cheesecake and the chocolate tart. The check was $100 before tip, so it was a cost-effective meal (and I guess worth the wait in the end). Our server was nice (I don't hold anyone to too high standards for RW).
We had dinner at Gargoyle's tonight just before a phenomenal Mountain Goats concert at the Somerville Theatre, and you said something that exactly nails what was wrong with my meal: it was Top Chef stuff, and I loathe Top Chef, both as a TV show and as a style of food.
We both started with the soup as well, which I thought was just all over the shop. The green pea aspect of it did not meld with the chiles, the barbecue or the tortilla strips. Interestingly, the one mouthful that made me think "Oh, okay, I see what you're going for here" was the one that the cilantro sprig was in. As Allstonian pointed out, perhaps a finishing drizzle of cilantro oil instead of the one spring might have pulled the dish into focus. So a bit of a botch, but not a dealbreaker.
My hanger steak, on the other hand: complete fail. Number one, the steak itself was insipid, a bizarre combination of chewy and flavorless. The equally blah bell pepper strips had been over-roasted into pure mushy, limp bitterness, and the sad attempt at mole smeared over the bottom of the plate looked utterly revolting but tasted...well, like nothing whatsoever. Also: putting guacamole on top of a steak is just stupid. Putting guacamole AND queso fresco on top of a steak is both stupid and overkill. This was absolutely one of the worst entrees I have been served in a long, long time, probably since a really awful meal in Burlington, Vermont last summer. If we hadn't been under a time crunch -- as it was, we missed most of the opening act's set -- I would have sent it back and ordered...I dunno, the arancini, maybe.
The pound cake was entirely adequate.
I guess my overall problem was that none of the entrees looked appealing to me, and they were so varied in the ways that they sounded mediocre that I asked Allstonian in all seriousness, "What kind of restaurant is this supposed to be?" From the name, I had assumed it was supposed to be something kinda bistro-like (maybe gargoyles make me think of Notre Dame or something), but the menu said to me "Hi! We have no idea what kind of restaurant we are! Please enjoy our lack of point of view!" I was so disappointed by the meal that it's going to take a lot to make me want to take a flyer on the place in the future, especially when Namaskar, one of my favorite restaurants in town, is right across the street.
The wife and I went to Asana last evening. For the most part very good. I had a fennel soup with lobster, the skirt steak with sesame soba noodles (yum!), and a wonderful raspberry bread pudding. She had a palm hearts and avocado salad, served on an unfortunately chilled tomato, a very good prime short rib dish with cabbage roll (which I didn't think warranted the $10 upcharge) but was very good. She had the banana dessert which she enjoyed. The only downside was that for the second time during RW a restaurant didn't have the bottle of wine we ordered. The waiter returned with a "comparable" bottle for us to consider, but I don't consider a bottle that's $30 more than the one I originally ordered "comparable". We ended up ordering a botle that was $5 less than our original choice. Other than that and the $15 cocktails (which were really good, though needlessly overpriced), it was quite nice. I don't think I'd be going back after RW as I figure the regular menu will be a bit too pricey for what it was (they didn't give us a regular menu, so I'm just going on my gut here).
Gargoyle's on Saturday night was phenomenal. Got two prime seats at the bar and didn't plan on going w/RW but couldn't help it. I had the delicious tart w/goat cheese--it had fried olives, truffles, and a small arugula salad. Main: risotto arancini with truffle and (I think) parsnip puree. Dessert: chocolate ganache cake.
DC had: cold mint and pea soup with brisket. He was surprised how much he liked it. Main: a phenomenal tuna steak (coq au vin style) with mashed potatoes and a delicious gravy. Dessert: pound cake with fresh berries and vanilla whipped cream.
Wine was a generous pour--house Pinot Noir for $7.50. It was a fantastic meal. I believe they do RW all month. The choices are plentiful on the menu.
Met a friend at Sibling Rivalry last nite and got the last two seats at the bar at 7:45. The place was packed, people jockeying for position at the bar, the dining room was full. Only one bartender working, she was going a little nuts but handled it pretty well. We had thought about going to Asana but their limited choices just didn't appeal to us whereas SR had a ton of choices. Decent bread and butter, my "525" cocktail was supposed to have ginger in it but I didn't taste any. Basically a champagne/pom juice combo. Friend enjoyed the white cosmos. Her garlic/cheese flan was great and the rabbit parpadelle was quite good too. There was an app of pierogi w/ duck confit that I would have ordered if i wasn't getting duck for dinner. If I had known that there wasn't so much duck in the entree, maybe i would have doubled up. It was good but 3 tiny slices of duck breast seemed pretty meager, served with whipped something that wasn't potato. She chose the salmon wrapped in pastry w/ spinach I think. I was torn between the bread pudding & ice cream and butterscotch pudding on a little cake. Chose the latter which doesn't hold a candle to the pudding at Great Bay, my taste of the bread pudding seemed really good. Bartender was chatty once it cleared out a little. So overall a decent meal but nothing earth shattering. Maybe we should have experienced the Asana room after all.
mmmm i love that pudding at great bay. i had it probably close to 5 yrs ago, for a RW lunch, and I still remember it.
I had the butterscotch pudding at Sibling Rivalry a few months ago and thought it was excellent, perhaps as good as Great Bay's, but maybe I've forgotten how good that original version was.
Lunch at Cafe Fleuri - two choices of app/entree/dessert
Apps were good - Clam chowder that everyone likes or nice arugula salad with pancetta and really good aged cheeses crumbled over.
Entrees were a different story. Roast chicken entree was nicely done, good flavor, well cooked, nice assortment of seasonal roasted/grilled veggies. No complaints.
The other option - vegetarian - was some bad combination of buckwheat noodles, potatoes, cabbage and cheese. DC was asked to comment and literally could not describe what it was like. This was a FAIL.
Desserts were fine - a lemon almond cake with raspberries with balsamic. The other option was a chocolatey thing.
Nothing very groundbreaking and that buckwheat thing was the pits.
On the regular menu, there was a chowder and lobster roll combo for $22 - beware, the lobster "roll" is really just a finger sandwich of lobster meat with what looked like A LOT of mayo. Folks were not expecting something that small, especially since the bowl of chowder by itself was $9.
So, sort of a FAIL.
Just had Restaurant Week dinner at L'Andana in Burlington. The place was PACKED!
Good sirloin steak entree and decent chocolate mousse dessert. For once, I actually did not feel ripped off during restaurant week, nor were we treated differently for ordering off of the restaurant week menu (we had a BAD experience a few years ago at Harvest during Restaurant Week).
All in all, it exceeded my expectations and we thoroughly enjoyed the value, food and service.
Meritage: My girlfriend and I made spontaneous reservations for Meritage last night and they were accommodating. We arrived at 6pm and they said our table was ready for us.
They seated us side by side so we could look out the window across the room. That was a nice touch.
There were 3 waitstaff on duty for the whole room and were efficient but not overly friendly and didn't appear to offer suggestions on wine unless someone asked.
We ordered sparkling water and they brought a plate of lemons and limes as well as a small plate each of 3 flavorful breads and a big container of butter. Very tasty and I wish they brought another serving later in the meal.
I ordered the pork and cheese and my gf ordered the salmon for the first course. The pork was larger and full of many flavors. Very enjoyable. The salmon was tasty and good but nothing special according to my gf. Some others at tables got the cod dish. Very large and looked good.
Waiter made one good catch. The waterboy poured regular water in the glasses and our waiter caught that and said..you ordered sparkling we will refill it with that. Nice catch.
I decided to order the wine pairing for myself. First was Camelot Sav. Blanc. semi-dry and didn't have that strong pear flavor I tend to get when I try SB wines. I enjoyed it and a 3/4 glass full pour.
But...now there is a long wait between 1st course and second course. No more wine, no more bread. Just wait. Granted, it was not really that long of a wait but felt longer because there was nothing else to munch on or drink. It just felt odd but being a fancy restaurant probably the norm..I don't know. But didn't bother me.
Second course was the fillet for me and the duck for my gf. I read great things about the fillet so I had to try it. I have to say, while the meat was tastier than Ruth's Chris I had last week, the sauce was mild and the veggies had 0 seasoning. It was not the flavor explosion that I came to expect from reviews of this dish.
The duck however was amazing. Smaller than the steak. Nice and juicy inside and crispy on the outside with a great seasoning. The ravioli was flavorful as well. Much more variety of flavors and was clearly the better dish. A winner for sure.
Blanking on the red wine. Maybe a chianti? Dissapointed in the pour of this one...only 1/4 glass full other waitstaff did a 3/4 glass pour. It was mild. Also, being a wine restaurant...they used the same style glass for reds as whites. You know, the type of glass you get at a wine tasting at local vineyards, taller and thinner. So really puzzled at that.
Some other people got the scallops at other tables. 3 scallops with some sort of potato??? dish in the center.
I warned my gf not to get the cheese dish for dessert but she did anyway. Yes 3 small pieces of cheese, 3 pieces of bread and I think some figs. But she is doing the low-carb thing so it made sense. She didn't enjoy it and I don't recommend it.
I had the chocolate tasting with milk chocolate sorbet..mild...a white chocolate cream dish with berries...tasty and a chocolate pie. Overall a winner for me and I recommend it.
My gf likes port wine so she had that with her dessert and enjoyed it.
At the end of the meal the waiter asked if we wanted coffee or needed validaition(free parking if you drive which is great). While waiting for the bill I noticed some waiters grinding fresh pepper and commented to my gf. She is like...some people got asked if they wanted pepper, others got asked if they wanted coffee with the dessert.
So all and all a good meal, not spectacular, service was efficient but not really friendly and not consistent between waitstaff and we left still a bit hungry.
Nice partial views of the harbor and to go when it is light out, sun is setting and dark makes for a nice visual experience between the atmosphere outdoors and indoors. The restaurant was sort of minimalist modern inside and I enjoyed that look. Temperature was just right indoors not cold like others have reported.
I think my gf was a bit dissapointed that it was just ok for her. I still recommend Meritage for restaurant week. I think if you went with pork as your first course, duck as your second and chocolate as your third you would have a very flavorful meal that would make your taste buds(and eyes) happy but not totally full.
Glad to read your review -- I'm one of the folks who posted earlier in the thread about my visit to Meritage last week -- as it turned out we liked it so much we went back there again a couple days ago. A couple things we noticed:
- My DC and I had the pork tenderloin (again, for him) and the cod (instead of the salmon, for me) to start this time. I liked the salmon last time, but like your gf, thought it wasn't exceptional. The cod was quite nice, big piece (could be an entree serving at most restaurants). This week's white pairing (the Sauv. Blanc) went much better with the pork than last week's Chardonnay; elevated the pork quite noticeably.
- I had the filet last time and thought it was amazing; my DC got it this time and I thought it was not quite as amazing; the sauce could have used a bit more punch. So might have been a consistency issue between last week and this week. (My DC had the duck last week and we thought it was very good.) I had the scallops, which came with a turnip puree -- it was very good, though not exceptional. The red selection (a syrah?) went surprisingly well with the scallops, and surprisingly not as well with the filet, I thought.
- My DC had the chocolate tasting which we really enjoyed! I had the cheese plate (because I didn't feel like ordering one of the other two again) --ok, but not distinctive. (having 3 hard/semi-hard cheeses seemed a bit boring -- a blue would have been a nice addition.) Figs were good though.
- Service was fine, but not quite as perfect as last week (different waiter.)
All in all, still an excellent way to spend $66 + wine + tip for dinner for two...
Locke-Ober last night. We were sat in the back, "Club" room which was very quiet. After taking a look at the front room, I think that was ok for us. It was really busy and not as formal in the main room. But a neat-looking space!
I had the pea-ravioli soup and DH had the bone marrow. There wasn't much marrow, which was disappointing for him. My soup was fine, but not remarkable. For entrees I had the lamb and DH had the veal. These were pretty good. Definitely the best scalloped potatoes I have ever had. The lamb was a large portion and cooked nicely. I didn't think it needed both the sauce on the bottom (some sort of demi-glace I think) and the cream sauce on top. I took more than half of it home. For dessert we both had the butterscotch sundae. It was totally unremarkable except for the marshmellow foam around it...that was tasty and unique.
Overall I was happy with our meal, but I wasn't "impressed" or "wow'ed" and I left wondering if this was the kind of meal we'd get there normally. For instance, the glassware was standard for our wine and the dishware was kind of cheap feeling. I kind of wish a place like Locke Ober would see RW as more of a marketing campaign. We probably won't go back, yet we're the exact people I am sure they should be trying to get as new diners (young professionals who like good food and dine out pretty regularly).
I also ate at Locke Ober during Resturant Week (Friday 2/27) and also ate in the upstairs dining room (which I take to be the Club room in Suze123's review) as the atmosphere was more attractive (but see below).
SUMMARY: Great food (because of Lydia Shire), dated atmosphere, boring but competent waiter
In brief, the food was outstanding even better than the hi-standard set by my two visits to Olives during Restaurant week. I had the potato soup with pea raviolis; excellent soup, good raviolis (although it arrived with ONE ravioli; I sent it back and got a new bowl with 4 raviolis). Next at the waiters recommendation (which was hard to get but I persisted) the 7 hour short ribs with risotto. This was the best short ribs I have ever had (but the portion was a bit small but that is typical of Reatuarant week at the top places and is to be expected). Dessert was the soft chocolate cake with rasberry sauce. This is actually a flourless chocolate cake with caramel sauce and whipped cream. It was EXTRAORDINARLY GOOD and not the tiny portion some restaurants (ex the excellent Lumiere) serve at REGULAR prices.
However, other than the muted polynesian theme private-party-only bar/lounge outside the upstairs dining room, I do NOT like the atmosphere here at all. It is boring and out of sync with the times. I care nothing about history (i.e Locke Ober's exalted history), only what is going on now.
I WILL return here for Restaurant week again because Lydia Shire's food here is creme de la creme and is a steal at this price. (BTW Scampo has her food and much better atmosphere but is NOT doing RW).
One more thing; at 7:30 when I arrived the downstairs large main dining room was 1/2 empty. But at 9 PM when I left it was full and had (what I suspect) was a much more interesting (i.e younger) crowd than this place usually sees. I would almost say there was a certain "buzz" about the scene at that hour.
Clink last evening. Not a bad set of choices. The wife had a beet/goat cheese salad which was good, though the goat cheese was very mild. I had the poached egg with shhrimp which was fantastic. Perfectly cooked egg, nice brioche toast. My onlly complaint is that I wish they'd given me a spoon to scoop up the remaining egg, so I didn't have to tip the little mason jar it came in to my lips (which i did because it was so good!).
For entrees we each had the pork tenderloin with polenta. The polenta was great as well as the sauce. Pork was fine, but acted more as a way to get polenta and sauce into you than anything else. the other choices were salmon or pasta. I had a nice apple/cranberry cobbler with delicious vanilla ice cream. My wife had the salted peanut ice cream, which is so good they should package it. Overall a positive, if quick experience. we were seated at 7:50, and finished at 9:10.
4th and final RW meal was at Bricco in the North End last nite where $33 doesn't even get you an entree half the time. Two friends were finishing drinks at the bar and we were seated right on time in the mostly full dining room. Waitress didn't have much personality and didn't bring the RW menu with the regular one so I had to ask. Don't like that. Decent bread served with olive oil, roasted garlic and a spread of some sort. One friend went off the RW menu and got a humungous crab leg for an app ($19), he enjoyed it and the size certainly was impressive. He also got ricotta 'pillows' for his main and those looked good but somehow I never stuck my fork in there. 4 choices in each section I think on their menu which is always nice to see, no desserts. I started with little rolled eggplant & cheese in tomato sauce and that was really good. Next course of parpadelle w/ wild boar ragout was very good too. I asked her which she liked better between pork and stuffed flounder (apples and oranges I know) and she said the fish but i think I should have gone pork. It was very mild, stuffed with a little lobster and not sure what else. Side of mashed wasn't hot enough, sauteed spinach was good. I thought for sure I'd bring a doggie bag home but they were two small rolls of fish so I just finished them and let my friend polish off the sides. The pork sides sounded a little more interesting too. He had a salad w/ goat cheese to start, angel hair pasta with truffle oil that was delicious and stuffed chicken. Which he said was his least favorite part of the meal but I'm not sure what exactly he didn't like (again, I somehow missed tasting it). He ordered a dessert of choc and grand marnier cake w/ whipped cream and burnt orange ice cream and that was really good, about $9. With two pilsners, one martini, a pinot noir, a Johnny Walker and tax it was $164. So there were hits and a couple misses but I was glad to go back at a good price point and think ordering the pork might have given this a full on A for me.
Finished up Winter Restaurant Week at Harvest. The bread basket was the high point. Included soda bread and corn bread. Selected the Seared Ahi Tuna for appetizer. One entree was the Coffee Braised Shortribs with Horseradish Potato Puree. It was tasty but small portion-just a shmear of potato puree. The better entree was the Forbidden Black Rice Tart with vegetables. Very tasty. Desserts were ok- apple cake with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet. Glass of wine was offered for additional $5 which was a nice addition to RW menu.Service was very rushed,little interaction. Server grabbed bread plate without asking if finished. Check appeared quickly and servers hovered around so we quickly paid up. We laughed it off since it saved us $ on the parking meter. Since this was a late lunch on the last RW day got the impression they must be happy that RW is over.While it wasn't a great RW experience, would try again for lunch as long as that bread basket appeared again.
44 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138
6 of us did dinner at Harvest on Friday night. We ordered everything on the restaurant week menu, and it all got great reviews other than the soup (too salty). We didn't feel rushed and the waitstaff and pleasant and attentive (aside from one bartender who ignored us, but it was rather busy in the bar area). I also had a good experience at Rialto the Friday night before. Apps and mains were excellent and the desserts were good enough - the service was excellent and they even decorated our table for a celebration we were having. I'd written it on opentable when I'd made a reservation a few weeks before, and despite the fact that they were packed, they decorated the table (I didn't realize that was their practice) which I thought was a nice touch.
Not sure which of at least two RW 2009 to post to, but I had a very pleasant surprise ordering the RW menu at Summer Shack in Back Bay at the bar last Friday night and need to share in light of my prior mixed posts about RW as well as Summer Shack. They did RW right - an enticing menu at a good price that makes mean want to go back.
The raw bar sampler to start was generous and delicous (shrimp, oysters, clam, and seviche), the large filet of haddock stuffed with shrimp and crab in a beurre blanc was shockingly good ( the swordfish option looked really good but friend who had it thought it was slightly overcooked and underseasoned), and I even finished the Indian pudding for dessert (and I don't think I like Indian pudding so much) - the dried out, sugar bomb of a whoopee pie was the only miss of the meal.
We dined at Summer/Winter in Burlington on Friday night for RW. It was an excellent experience.
H has corn velloute (SP?) which was creamy and corn loveliness. I had the rocket/goat cheese tart salad. Loved the rocket-fresh and spicy without being overdressed, but wished the tart had been warmed. It was more like a slab of pastry and little cheese.
Entrees were cedar plank salmon. I do not care for salmon and they substituted wolf fish. Both fish dishes were excellent, served with a huge copper pot of cauliflower puree. Yummy.
Dessert was mind boggling. I was very surprised at the size of the chocolate explosion cake (which really was a big fat yummy brownie). It was served with cherries that were so wonderful I couldn't help scraping the plate.
I had a white wine called First Love which was a great complement. H had a Spanish red.
We ate at the bar and it was a great overall experience, even though it is a Marriott restaurant. If you're looking for a north shore dining spot, this is a go to.
I went to Icarus with my four of my girlfriends on Friday night for RW. I've been to Icarus a few times in the past and have always enjoyed the food and the service has been good too. However, my RW experience this past weekend did not align with my past experiences.
We arrived on time for our 8pm reservation and were told that it would be a few minutes until we were seated. Not a big deal. After about 15 minutes we were brought to a nice booth for 4 in the back of the restaurant. The table was a great place for us since we were looking forward to having a nice cozy meal and catching up with each other. Our waitress came right over with the drink menu which featured 5 or 6 yummy cocktails and the wine lists. We ordered a mixture of cocktails including the cosmo, lemon-tini, and sidecar. All were very tasty.
For dinner I ordered the bluefish cake appetizer, crispy duck entrée, and profiterole dessert. The bluefish cake was very tasty, not too fishy. It was served with a nice green salad with vingearette on the side and then a Dijon mustard “dipping sauce” for the fish cake. The mustard was good, but a bit overpowering if more than a light smear was applied to the cake.
The entrée (crispy duck) had a nice flavor and was served with a red cabbage sauerkraut and a few pieces of potato. My first impression with the duck was that it was approximately 1/3-1/4 of the size of the standard Icarus duck entrée. There was a single duck leg, approximately 1-2 ounces of meat. TINY. I’m not a big person, I don’t require very much food, but this entrée was even too small for me. The plate even look scarce, like a major part of the dish was missing. I was disappointed and still hungry upon finishing it.
After our entrees were cleared then waitress came over within seconds to ask if we would like any coffee/cocktail with our dessert. We requested a menu with the after dinner drinks and instead she said should could make anything we wanted. We again asked if we could see a menu. Note – it is now about 9:30, we’ve been sitting for about 70min. This is our Friday night out, we want enjoy our meal. She finally agrees to bring a coffee menu, but then returns moments after dropping it off to ask if we’ve decided. We settle on coffees/espressos. Immediately after ordering our drinks, our dessert shows up. Then 5 minutes later our coffee. Then 5 more minutes, our check. At this point we are getting the impression they want us out of there. But we look around there are empty tables so we decide we shouldn’t be rushed and continue with our coffee and dessert and throw a credit card into the check. The waitress immediately comes over and runs our card.
Here’s the kicker. Then the manager comes over and says “I’m sorry ladies, but we need your table. I’ve set up chairs in the “lounge” for you to hang out for a bit if you would like.” They kicked us off our table! We’d been there for 1 hr 30 min! on a Friday night! And there were empty tables! WTF. We were angry.
Once we were “re-located” I asked to speak with the manager again. I commented on how I’ve been to Icarus before and really enjoyed my experiences, but tonight was seriously disappointed. She said she was sorry, but its RW and they need to keep tables moving and then she bought us a round of drinks. I guess that could make up for the fact we got bumped – but not completely in my book.
Thanks Icarus. You will not be seeing me again or getting a recommendation from me. And this is just another example why RW could be a great thing, but in practice it can often fail.’
(sorry that took so long)
Four of us went to dinner at Pigalle on Sunday night, March 22. We had an excellent meal with about 8 choices for the appetizer and about 8 choices for the main dish. Two of us had an excellent duck confit main dish and one of us had an excellent halibut dish. One of us had a competently prepared chicken dish. Everyone liked his/her salads and soup.The creme brulee was top notch, and the apple rhubarb crisp with ice cream was very good. The room was a bit more crowded with tables than I last remembered. No one pushed more expensive add-ons. I am hoping that this restaurant makes it through the economic down turn. They were doing their best on March 22 to keep the customers happy, and they let us know that this is a restaurant that deserves to make it.