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Dec 4, 2009 06:10 AM

Symphony 8 - a preliminary review

Barmy and I ate at the newly-opened Symphony 8 last night before seeing the BSO. We wouldn't necessarily visit such a brand-new place right away, but dining options near Symphony Hall are limited and we really wanted to check them out.

We sat in the pub area (separate entrance, labeled Siansa 8, which we are told on the website is "Symphony 8" in Irish) because we'd agreed that the pub menu appealed to our mood more than the restaurant menu, and it wasn't clear whether we could order from both in the dining room.

Short version: food was overall quite decent (although my entree was better than Barmy's); the service was very friendly but pretty amateurish.

I arrived 10-15 minutes before Barmy and ordered a Gritty McDuff's from the long list of bottled beers. (The list of those on tap is a lot shorter and had nothing out of the ordinary - this is not a beer bar, although the long list of bottled beers suggests a gesture in that direction.) After several minutes the waitress returned and apologized for the delay, saying that they didn't have any handy and someone was going to the basement to get it. A few minutes later she stopped by to apologize again for the delay and to say that the search continued. Finally after about 10 minutes she returned, again apologizing, to say that they didn't seem to have any. I changed my order to a Smutty Old Brown, which arrived promptly and *icy* cold.

(In the mean time, some previous visitor to our table had left two puddles of cold-pint-glass condensation. In the entire course of our time there, she made no move to wipe them up, and they were still there when we left.)

Barmy arrived and we decided that the mussels steamed in beer sounded delicious but were probably too sloppy to eat when we were both moderately Dressed. We ordered the clams casino to start - oops, they were out. Ordered smoked salmon crepes instead, which were delicious - smoked salmon wrapped inside a pair of small crepes - no quite blini, but along those lines - dressed with a schmear of horseradish cream and minced shallot. Very nice indeed. (Although if the crepes had indeed started off warm, as per the menu description, the cold fillings changed that right away.)

I had the chicken and waffles as my entree, and Barmy went with fish and chips. The fried chicken was a good-sized flattened piece of boneless breast, which surprised me a bit, but it was juicy and flavorful, with a well-seasoned and very crispy-crunch breading. The waffles were two 4-inch Belgian-style squares, not as crisp as I'd like but quite tasty. Sauteed and very garlicky spinach was a slightly incongruous accompaniment, but according to the menu, it's the only side veg they have.

Barmy's fish and chips were somewhat less successful. The fish was two good-sized pieces coated in a beautiful-looking batter, but the fish seemed to be completely unseasoned and was nearly flavorless, and the batter little better. I didn't try the fries - Barmy said they were okay but not great.

Possibly because we were in the pub, we weren't offered dessert, so we didn't have to contend with trying to follow a recitation, We did have to contend throughout the meal with a small but loud party at the bar who were putting away PBRs and scorpion bowls with abandon (on a Thursday night! Yikes.)

Total with two beers, a shared app, and two entrees came to $43 - a real bargain! We'll be back, but next time we're trying the dining room instead...

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  1. Thanks for the detailed review. I've been eying it for our Monday night cheap eats, and it sounds quite worth trying.

    3 Replies
    1. re: bear

      Forgot to ask...what is the space like?

      1. re: bear

        Basic pub with a tinge of Ikea. Not bad, but nothing extraordinary.

        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

          Thanks. About what to expect for the reasonable pub menu price point.


      posted in Winter Openings, etc, on Nov. 29, so "yesterday" was Nov. 28

      1. I went last night. I was surprised by how large it was- there is a whole downstairs area too that has not opened yet. We sat at the bar. the staff was very nice. This is a place to get a beer, not a cocktail IMO. We had burgers which were cooked perfectly though a bit underseasoned. I have to admit I was tempted to order the chili dog. I thought the fries were pretty good as well, thin crisp and well seasoned.

        1. We went again for dinner in the restaurant section on Saturday night.

          Same song, second verse. The food, when it finally got there, was excellent. But they are far from ready for prime time. Many waitresses were scurrying around, but very little food was being served.

          We'll give them a while to settle in, perhaps going back in January after the holiday rush.

          1 Reply
          1. re: peregrine

            We were there on Saturday too before the Symphony. We had two very large salads, overdressed but adequate..a cheesy Ceasar salad and a green salad with roasted peppers. I had a terrible, almost inedible, crabcake sandwich with pretty good fries and my SO had the flattened half chicken with mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach that was pretty tasty. We didn't have any alcohol beverages in order to stay awake for the concert.