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Another One Bites The Dust - Persephone

The Herald is reporting that Persephone will close. Not a huge surprise there... the location was not great and the concept of munching on $8 french fries amongst racks of clothes was never that appealing.

http://bostonherald.com/business/gene...

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  1. i thought it was already closed on saturday?

    i enjoyed my food there -- had an amazing coddled egg dish with mushrooms and bacon aioli that was killah good, however the wine mark-up was absurdly high and the drinks tended to the sweet like so many other places.

    that area is still a bit desolate at night and fer sure off my beaten path, so i didn't visit that much. i guess it was not THAT good to become a destination for me.

    however, i do think the combination concept might have worked elsewhere, like the south end. more than the racks of clothes, what i found jarring was people playing wii-guitar video games in the lounge area. it really seemed out of place for the intended vibe.

    1. I only went a couple of times, unfortunately, but I thought the concept and feel was very cool - it was very atypical of the Boston restaurant scene.

      But the location in the city sucked, in my opinion. They were a little too cute, too cool-for-school with the $100 ham sandwich on the lunch menu, but I will fondly remember the chowhound-inspired pomegranate martini.

      1. They just got a Best of Boston award too, from Boston magazine. I forget what the category was. I was always confused by the name: Was Persephone the restaurant and Achilles Project the store? Or Achilles Project was the owner?

        1. Yes, they just called me to cancel a reservation I was holding for Saturday the 15th.
          Was looking forward to eating there again -- and the location was *so* convenient for Harbor Lights (ummm...Bank America Pavilion).

          Anyone got any brilliant ideas for a pre-Bonnie Raitt meal?

          1 Reply
          1. re: bgavin

            We recently had a decent snack at Salvatore's during the Tall Ships' weekend. Every other place was a mob scene and we have little experience with restaurants in that area. It's located right across from the Pavillion. We sat at the bar up front and stuck with a simple pizza to share and a couple of glasses of wine each. With the sun streaming in that afternoon, it fit the bill. Bartender was friendly and knowledgeable about wine to boot.

          2. The concept was bad --- but the salted caramel ice cream was ridiculously good....

            1. The Achilles Project was a bit rich for my wallet: I don't own many $400 pairs of sneakers. Make that zero $400 pairs of sneakers. Nor any $200 t-shirts. But I will miss Persephone.

              Great sea salt/bacon-topped pretzel at the bar, the coddled egg, roast chicken, bone-in ribeye, lots of stuff for big parties to share and graze on. Decent bartending, lovely lounge (I loved the dining room less).

              I blame the economy and a neighborhood that was slow to develop for a number of reasons. It had zero foot traffic, poor signage, and dubious parking (not everyone wants to valet, and it's a desolate area at night to park on the street a couple of blocks away). Many factors arrayed against it. I hope Leviton takes another run at a more casual place; I cited Persephone in the '08 Stuff Magazine dining awards for "best 2nd restaurant by an established fine-dining chef". Ah, well.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              3 Replies
              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Imagine if they had opened on Newbury? Not that they would have fared any better in this economy, but I think about the Armani shop and the affront to cuisine that was the Armani Cafe (ok, that's perhaps a bit strong) - I think they would have had a better shot at making it both as a restaurant and a clothier there.

                Imagine the hurbis of the universe if someone had dripped mustard from their $100 ham sandwich on their $200 t-shirt?

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  I'd forgotten about the ham sandwich. That's an odious marketing gimmick even in better times: the "hedge fund manager's grossly conspicuous consumption special".

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    I believe the $100 ham sandwich was the item Bostonist highlighted under the headline "Future Turd Of A Douchebag." The whole concept sounded too cute by half for me.

              2. I had several excellent meals at Persephone, and it was convenient to my workplace. I will definitely miss having it in the neighborhood. It beat the pants off of Radius, food-wise. Has anyone had good meals at Lobby or Vintage?

                6 Replies
                1. re: bella_sarda

                  I've only been to Lobby once for lunch, but I was severely unimpressed. Don't bother with the crab cake sandwich - it was really fishy.

                  1. re: MrsCheese

                    How can a crab-cake sandwich be fishy? Are they putting some non-crab fish in it? I like my crab-cake really crabby, with almost no filler, and they're hard to find like that because it's more expensive to make them that way.

                    1. re: bella_sarda

                      less than fresh seafood smells "fishy".

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        less thank fresh crab smells like ammonia. mmmmmmmm. My 3 dining experiences at Lobby were from fair to awful and now that Scott Shore is no longer running the bar the cocktails have gone into serious decline.

                        1. re: iloveporkbelly

                          thanks for the tip. I'll skip this place unless desperate, I guess.

                          1. re: iloveporkbelly

                            Does anyone know where Scott went? Is he still in town?

                  2. Rats! I received a $100 gift certificate not that long ago. I went on the website looking for an email address or contact info. Anyone ever have experience with this kind of thing? Will it be honored at another of their restaurants?

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: cantcookbutluv2eat

                      Their only other restaurant is the chef/owner's first, Lumiere in West Newton. I'd give them a call, at least.

                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                      1. re: cantcookbutluv2eat

                        please report back on whether or not michael leviton will honor the gc. always interested to see how a chef/owner responds (or distances themselves) in these situations.

                        1. re: bostonfoodz

                          Sorry for the delay. I was finally in touch with the manager at Lumiere. The answer was no, they will not honor the gift certificate from Persephone. Her explanation was that the 2 restaurants are set up as different entities, and they remain seperate. From a business perspective, I understand the logic of it. But from a customer service perspective, I had hoped that they would honor it anyway. Disappointing.

                          1. re: cantcookbutluv2eat

                            that is so lame! business and customer service really should go hand in hand in this situation. so, instead of honoring a GC (how much, $50, $100), Leviton has probably just lost a customer at his current and future restaurants? lame and bad busines-- especially in this market.

                            1. re: abattoir

                              my understanding is that leviton was not "owner" of persephone, just the very visible name. he was not even there on a regular basis.

                              the two restaurants were entirely separate. he, or his business, never sold the gift card, so did not receive the revenue. why should he be giving away free meals?

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                I agree hotoynoodle. Separate corporations and as you said Lumiere did not receive the money from the gift certificate. Yes it's a bummer about loosing the GC money but not his fault.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  i like how you put owner in quotes. so, he's the owner when times are good, when times allow for a $100 sandwich, when he received positive press, most likely when he received a paycheck (obv not profits), but not the true owner when coming to working with his customers or when the place closes? i get the separation of biz stuff, i agree that restaurants are not in the business of giving away free meals, but this would seem like a good chance to make a positive, long lasting impression.

                                  1. re: abattoir

                                    not my implication. the impression most people had was that he was chef/owner. he was really neither. he was the consulting chef, kind of like he is now with eastern standard.

                                    the people who owned the store, the achilles project, owned the restaurant. period. no quotation marks.

                                    when cafe louis closed, i don't think anybody expected michael schlow to honor those gift certificates at radius. (a way-back reference, i know, but closest comparison i can think of.)

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      Leviton is consulting at ESK? I thought that was Jeremy Sewall.

                                      I thought Leviton had an ownership stake in Persephone, too, not just a Schlow-at-606-Congress kind of consulting deal. His title was executive chef (which doesn't mean anything about his level of investment in the place), and I spotted him regularly there in its first year, anyway.

                                      Legally they're in the clear for not honoring Persephone gift certs at Lumiere, but it's not a great goodwill generator.

                                      I guess the lesson is: buy Amex gift certs with a suggestion to try a specific restaurant instead of buying the restaurant gift cert.

                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        gah -- typing too early without enough caffeine. yes, it is sewall at esk, sorry.

                                        i agree it's not the kindest gesture to screw peeps on gift certificates, but a line has to be drawn someplace i guess.

                        2. Oh no! It was my favorite after work drinking place. They made a great version of the sazerac.

                          I kinda appreciated that the bar was hidden behind the clothing racks, too.

                          1. It's too bad. Food was always great each time I've gone. A little pricey though. It goes to show how important location/parking is. It's a desolate area, no parking and dark. If restaurants want to survive in that area the meters need to be available for everyone (not just residents only) who lives around there anyways????