new french bistro in Lincoln
Has anyone been to AKA Bistro in Lincoln? Has a nice Web site and menu (also on Open Table), but no reviews or feedback yet. Have been to Cast Iron Kitchen in Maynard, and enjoyed it, but deciding whether to go back or give AKA a try.
Cast Iron Kitchen
177 Main Street, Maynard, MA 01754
Thumbs up from me. Shirmp Tempura (served in a light sauce) was a killer appetizer. The asparagus salad in truffle vinaigrette was a perfect salad. I didn't really like the duck breast my wife ordered, but my cod served over beans was outstanding. Finished with creme brullee, served with fruit and visibly laden with vanilla beans. The service was first rate. Christian is a wonderful host. I wish it had a little more of a bar and it's too pricey for me to go as often as I'd like, but overall it's a great place for dinner.
145 Lincoln Rd, Lincoln, MA 01773
Question about ambiance. The fact that there is a children's menu makes me think that it is OK to bring my 9 year old (who loves both sushi and escargot), but is it really casual enough for a family outing on a Friday night? Or is it a special-occasion place that is just trying to make it OK for kids when they must be brought along? Hope that distinction makes sense...basically I'm trying to figure out if we can head out there after work/school tonight.
It's Aka Bistro as in Red Bistro. Aka = Japanese for red. It is a French-Japanese fusion restaurant. I stopped by on Saturday. They are planning to open for lunch in the near future. The place looks great but it was not quite open when I went. The batteries in my camera were dead or I'd have some photos.
We (me, husband, 3 year old) went on Saturday and were very pleased. I thought the service was quite good for being a place that just opened (my big worry with going so soon), though our waiter still seemed a little green.
The bone marrow was tasty, but I prefer when it is served with salt and parsley on the side. The dish just had a little salt sprinkled over it and was served with a couple of pieces of crisp bread. Husband had hamachi to start. I'm pregnant so only tasted a little bit, but he and my daughter loved it. It was served with a pineapple sauce. I couldn't taste much of the hamachi. I had a mesclun salad (I know, boring) that even my husband raved about, and he's not a salad guy. Perfectly dressed, very tender baby greens, and just acidic enough without being sharp. It was great for an old standard.
Daughter had the mac and cheese (though was intrigued by the frog legs) - it was very good. I had the moules frites. The mussels were FANTASTIC. Perfectly plump and so tasty. I have not had mussels that were that good in a long time. I thought the broth was very good, and not sweet at all as another poster had mentioned (perhaps they tweaked it?). They did bring a bowl for my shells, but it was gigantic and awkward on the table. The fries sucked. I am very particular about fries - I like them thin and crispy. The rosemary frites at Sel de la Terre are my idea of the perfect fry (even though I always wake in the middle of the night parched from all of the salt). These fries (I wouldn't even call them frites) were like limp, fast food fries. I didn't eat them.
My husband had the duck confit, which he loved. What I loved were the potatoes that were served with it - I believe they were cooked in duck fat. Oh my god. The entree was served with a bit of the mesclun salad to cut all the richness of the confit and potatoes.
The bread they served was yummy. I don't usually eat bread and I ate two large rolls. I'm not sure where they get it from, but it was cold.
All in all, we are optimistic about this place. It could really fill a void in the area. And it's great to have a place so close that has good food where kids are welcome.
Sel de la Terre
1245 Worcester Street, Natick, MA 01760
my boyfriend and I went there friday nite. After reading much fanfare we decided to go Lincoln and check it out. We were surprised how quickly we got there 30 minutes from backbay!! I do agree the room is loud!! we started with the "japanese side". the fish was devine , kindai toro. this is the specialty according to our menu. we then went to france for our main course. the lobster was perfectly cooked and the celeryroot under the crustacean was wonderful. my boyfriend had cocovin which was good, but not special, have had this same dish in many boston bistro. the winelist is heavy on the french side and seemed to have something for everyone. the service......well it seems our waiter was rather frazzled and when asked about specific things on the menu he stumbled and seemed like he was confused. we didn't get alot of attention and service was slow and the server seemed uneducated about the menu. i believe his name is javier and seemed to think by smiling at me, er flirting?? his lack of knowledge would go unnoticed. looks (yes, he was goodlooking) do not substitute knowledge of the menu. with that being said, i think we would give it another try and hopefully get a more "qualified" server.
Went for Easter Sunday brunch, but only now getting to this post.
I was impressed, and think this place has a lot of potential for the area (smack in the middle of Lincoln Center in a small strip mall with plenty of parking). I agree with kelly001 that everything was impeccable, but on the non-flashy, basic, traditional side.
The space is attractive but small and L-shaped, with the kitchen and sushi bar around the corner from the main dining room. There were several tables with umbrellas out front, which were fully occupied thanks to the warm weather. The main room has plenty of windows, but of course the view is nothing special, just the road running through Lincoln Center near the train tracks and the buildings across the street (in fact the train whistle was pretty loud!). There are not that many tables so it isn't too cramped, with a continuous bench running around the edge, so every table is a mix of bench and chair seating.
I have to say, it is pretty LOUD space. When we arrived at Noon, most of the patrons were outside and only 3 tables were occupied inside, but it was still noticeably loud. Now, we were at table #35 (more on this later!), which is a 2-top in the far corner of the dining room as far from the kitchen as we could get, so the sound from the kitchen may have been bouncing off the wall at the base of the "L" and focusing on our table, I don't know. But we could make out the conversations in the kitchen!
There were 3 choices for brunch, either 3-course ($35) or 4-course ($45) prix fixe menus. This was a one-off brunch, and apparently they won't be offering weekend brunch for a few more months. We went with the 4-course:
App: Smoked salmon with wasabi creme fraiche and micro sliced radish and greens -- a nice dish, a bit on the small side, with high-quality smoked salmon.
Salad: Here was our first encounter with first-week jitters (this was the 7th day they were open, and I gathered the first day for our excellent, friendly waiter). The menu listed a rather boring sounding endive and goat cheese salad. But another server, not our waiter, brought us two dishes of steamed whole shelled shrimp on an avocado mold with a "French" sauce. Delicious, perhaps the best dish overall, but not the salad we were supposed to get, which we only remembered after referring to the menu we had kept at our side. In fact, this was the appetizer for the 3-course brunch, and given it was surely more expensive than the correct salad, we obviously made out like bandits. But I did point the mistake out to our waiter. What had happened? Off our waiter goes to the kitchen, and because of the above mentioned "sound relection", we could hear the entire conversation to occured. Turns out he had told them to "fire 35", which they thought meant the $35 3-course as opposed to table 35 where we sat! As I said, no complaints about this mistake at our end.
Main: We had one of each of the two choices. The grilled split lobster on diced celery root with chanterelles and lobster sauce was wonderful. The rack of lamb (3 chops) served on a bed of au gratin potatoes with a grilled breaded tomato was perfectly cooked, but really lacked anything distinctive to take it beyond just well-made.
Dessert: "Easter Cake". Now in my from Ireland, Irish-Catholic heritage there isn't anything called Easter Cake, so I'm not sure what I was expecting. What we got was a small piece of cake that was a cross between a firm Christmas fruit cake with currants and cranberries and a frosted rum cake. Actually pretty tasty.
The next first-week jitters came when Christian, the French co-owner, stopped by our table and asked, "I understand from your waiter that you would like to try the Sauternes?" I guess I wasn't thinking quickly enough, so I said "Uh, sure!" Then I flagged down our waiter, who said Christian was actually getting our table confused with another. But to his credit, he still came back with a small taste (they are using Riedel or Riedel-like "O" stem-less wine glasses, which I don't generally like) of light Sauternes. Again, we seemed to be having all the mistakes going in our favor, which made up for the noise (which was also going in our direction).
Wine: We went with a nice Cote de Nuit, which went well with the lamb and wasn't bad with the lobster. Overall, a small wine list, with no recognizable producers, but it definitely seemed interesting and worth exploring. From the lecture Christian gave the table next to us on the Sauternes, I suspect he's put some thought into making creative selections. Can't say what the mark-up was not recognizing any names. But most of the bottles were in the $30-80 range, so definitely focusing on moderate prices as opposed to name dropping.
Overall, impressed with the well-crafted food, although I think they could use a bit more punch to take some of the dishes to the next level. Of course this wasn't the regular menu. Will definitely be going back to try the sushi (the sushi bar is very attractive, with an interesting weaving granite countertop abutting the kitchen and perhaps space for ~15-18).
They do need to do something about the noise level. Also, as the space filled up after one hour, the pace noticeably slowed down and we had to wait ~15 min for our check.
I went last night and really had an amazing meal--I was very impressed! I only ordered from the "sushi" side of the menu and enjoyed everything immensely. Chris, the chef/owner, was just so great, making everything right before our eyes. I had had a birthday dinner at Uni(Clio)where Chris used to work and this experience last night was as great as my earlier time. Very creative and delicious! Fatty toro, hamachi, oysters--all super fresh and served with amazing and surprising flavor combinations(including a new ingredient to me-wolfberries :). I also had a wonderful rose champagne, as well as a crisp white wine that all went fantastic with the fish. I cannot wait to return! Great service too--I guess I came in after the alarm issues :)
As you know if you live around these parts, our options for fine dining are rather restricted to say the least. So on paper AKA Bistro is a welcomed promise. What happens when you eat there, well, it’s still promising. I’ll only speak about the French side of the menu since that’s what we ordered from tonight. Their French offerings are very typical, there is nothing daring on the menu. Many staples of French comfort food cooking: blanquette de veau, coq au vin, moules frites, boeuf bourguignon, steak tartare, etc. Very traditional and the recipes respect these food traditions. They are not reinventing each dish, but what we sampled was well executed.
I had a salade niçoise, which was impeccable. I admit, this one is hard to mess-up, but I’ll commend them on using excellent produce to accomplish this very simple and basic dish. The whipped butter, served with our appetizer, was very good and their French rolls were quite good. I followed my appetizer with an entrée of Moules Frites. Again, the quality of the actual mussels was excellent. I didn’t care much for the sweetish broth but that was a personal taste issue. It was well balanced and worked with the mussels; I, however, just like my mussel broths either on the white wine end of things or the lemony end of things. This one, as I mentioned before, was predominantly sweet. I also must say that the mussels dish was way to copious for one person. My wife had the foie gras with a Sautern gelée and the grilled lobster. She was happy with both dishes. The only true disappointment, food wise, was the fries. They were limp, looked unappealing, and tasted marginally okay.
It was opening week, so you don’t expect everything to be perfect and they were certainly a few slip-ups. The kitchen set-off the fire alarm and we had to find refuge in the chilly outdoors until the firemen came and turned off the blaring alarm. It was unbearable inside the restaurant. 10 minutes later, everyone was back inside. Our waitress brought us a glass of sparkling wine to apologize. It seems odd to offer an alcoholic drink to someone who hasn’t ordered any alcohol with his meal. The manager came to apologize to some tables only he did this selectively. If you are going to do this, you should really stop at every table. It’s not like there are more than 15 tables in the dining room. Furthermore, the place wasn’t even full. One other complaint is that the main dining room gets very loud. They need to work on controlling the acoustics of this room with some dampening materials. It was hard to carry a conversation without having to try to yell louder than the next table and the place was not even at capacity. When they served the mussels, they did not provide a dish to dispose of the shells. The plate was so overfilled; it made it difficult to scavenge through the mix of empty and to-be-eaten mussels. Solution: either serve fewer mussels with this dish, or provide a side dish to dispose of some of the empty shells.
I don’t foresee this place becoming the new trendy place that will draw city folks to the suburbs, but it stands a real chance of becoming a very viable dining option in the Lincoln/Concord area. Prices were perhaps a little high on some of the more basic entree dishes. We’ll be back to try the sashimi side of their menu.
While we didn’t have our kids with us this evening, it was a pleasure to see the diversity of their kids’ menu. Our toddler eats about anything and we usually have to order from the regular menu since we often find kids’ menu options unhealthy and highly redundant.
I'm going to write a bit more (sorry, I can't stop myself) I posted this on Yelp and feel I should share it here as well...
Being a local I was sure to be there on the first day, and succeeded :)The first impression was very nice, warm and fitting to the surroundings, the layout & atmosphere matched that of this charming little town. There is a wraparound couch on the street side with chairs as well, and on the parking lot side there is a sushi bar area with a high top table for dropping in.
I went with my boyfriend and we sat in the booth area and both opted for French items. I started with the curly endive salad with bacon and poached egg. It was incredible. An egg poached like only the French can do it. I couldn't believe how good it was, I think it must be one of the best items on the menu although quite a simple choice. He had the pate and loved it, however I'm not a pate person (I tried it and it was very good actually, but its not something I go for). I then had the mussels & frites and that was delicious but far too large of an entree. He had the coq au vin and it was divine, I must add that this was served in a crock that was so adorable you almost wanted to jump in yourself, really just the most darling thing. We had a great bottle of wine and totally enjoyed ourselves.
The prices were reasonable for what you are getting. Really an excellent value for the quality of food. I feel guilty living so close to something this good. The whole night I couldn't quite get over the fact that I was sitting in Lincoln eating this exquisite meal.
Looking forward to going back again and try some sushi. Sushi in Lincoln! Lincoln?! I just can't get over it.
I can second the excellent reviews by LBNova above, as I went this week and loved it! It turned out to be a lot closer to Cambridge than I thought (as Blumie posted above) and Lincoln is easily accessible from Route 2 and via the commuter rail as well. As mentioned above it's not a huge venue, so reservations are definitely recommended,
The atmosphere there was relaxed despite being opening week and great fun with outstanding service as well (I think our server was called Dora and she couldn't have been more helpful or attentive). It really is a genuinely exciting new restaurant for the area. The way that they've managed to split the restaurant into two distinct areas for Japanese and French food was impressive and a number of tables near to us in the main restaurant were taking advantage of both types of cuisine.
As Sablemerle mentioned above, they really are keeping the menus authentic (any children that brave the snails or frogs legs should be commended, as I doubt I would have done at that age!) with steak hache alongside omakase options. It'll be interesting to see how the brunch, terrace and take-out menus look in due course and how the place develops with time, as it looks like a surefire winner at the moment already.
If you get the chance to visit, then I can't recommend the new AKA Bistro in Lincoln highly enough!
I have been to the restaurant and have good reviews to share with you. I went and had the French items and what I had knocked me off my feet. What you probably already know is that they have some excellent chefs, so the food they are putting out is top notch. Its a small spot, so you will definitely have to make reservations (they are on open table) and they have a nice wine list. They also serve beer, but I don't think Lincoln is willing to accept liquor just yet. They will eventually offer "menus of the day" but its too early for that I guess, as the whole menu is new so they don't have to add in specials quite yet. They are also going to be doing weekend brunches. Can you imagine fresh chocolate croissants as they are made by a French chef? I can't even stand it, this place is amazing and is only going to get better. Hallelujah for Lincoln!
Just want to point out that Lincoln is a lot closer than you think. One year, when I forgot to mail my taxes, I left my house in Lincoln at 11:30pm and made it to the Central Square post office at 11:45pm. Sure I may have been driving a tad fast, but it's really a lot closer than most people think!