Bina Osteria Pleases
special night out and decided to try something new. i liked eleven madison park the one time we ate there in New York and I remembered reading the chef came from that restaurant. Generally, the party group tonight was pleased with the food, service, and value though it won't win any awards for economy. First, it is very nice that parking in the nearby garage is subsidized: don't ask why I hate paying 20.00 bucks for parking when I'm into the wallet for 100.00 for dinner, but I just do. Parking is a modest 5.00 and I like that. Second, though I know there have been some gripes about the "institutional" architecture, I liked the room. we were by the window, got to see lots of street life and liked the cityscape, cool feel of the place. third, we could easily hear each other. hooray for dinner conversation. our waitress was great and the support help prompt and unobtrusive. we decided after discussing portion size with the waitress that we'd actually be able to eat the 4 course prix fixe and we liked that you could order anything from the menu and weren't limited to a smaller subset of items. the meal started with a rather standard amuse bouche (spring pea soup with a bit of lobster, good but not memorable) and nice bread and lardo. others might object to the fact that bread didn't continue to come (we knew we could ask for more) but we had quite a lot of food to get through and weren't put off by this. I had a jonah crab appetizer that was both sufficient in size and lovely in preparation. cavatelli with asparagus came next and the pasta itself was outstanding as was the whole presentation. again, i liked the size but folks who like a lot of food on their plate might cavil at the cavatelli. my main was a vermont lamb beautifully prepared and presented and desert was an outstanding rhubarb dish that included multiple flavors and textures including meringue and sorbet and managed to be fresh, light, and lovely to eat and look at. others loved the risotto with sweetbreads and morels, and the halibut main dish, and the risotto brulee was a big hit too. the house generously brought a tiramiso as an "extra from the house" and the homemade mascarpone was a knockout. the only complaint was from one party member who doesn't believe the parmesan foam on her spaghetti carbonara is an improvement on the real thing. not being a big foam fan myself, i can see her point.
the menu itself was broad and deep and we all think we'll go back for a second foray through it.
don't go if you're in a hurry or if you like lots of food on your plate but if you want something that feels maybe a bit more new york than boston for an up-scale night out, this place might please.
A few meals into this place, I do think the food is spectacular, and not overpriced as it seemed at first -- their goosing of portion sizes has certainly helped. The foams seem dated and silly to me, but the super-high-quality ingredients, solidity of technique, and plain deliciousness make that particular bit of pretension forgivable.
I'm afraid the room leaves me cold, though: an odd, unwelcoming, monochromatic modern design with ugly, uncomfortable chairs. (Might work better as a nightclub.) I think next time I might take a page from teezeetoo and request a window seat; other parts of the room get really loud when it's full, in one of those feedback loops where loudness begets loudness, people shouting after a while.
Very solid cocktails, unusual amari, a wine list that seems pretty fairly priced (with a handful of under-$50 bargains), superb house-made stuff like fresh ricotta and coppa di testa, great bread, pig butter (which my beloved thinks would be better marketed as "bacon butter", however inaccurate), and service that ably coordinates a lot of servers and sub-servers, plus a few functionaries whose sole job seems to be walking around monitoring the place. I was skeptical at first, but despite the not very inviting room, the food here has won me over.