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Anyone Been to Menton? Any Opinions?

I have a reservation later this month - should I keep it? It will be a MAJOR splurge (not from an expense account or trust fund), so I am looking to hear that folks have been WOWED - anyone have experience to share? Did I miss a thread on it?

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Menton
354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

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  1. My question would be: are you planning on spending that splurge elsewhere if not at Menton? There's a school that says it's risky to go to any new place in the first couple of months of operation. If you are concerned about risk, wait a little while.

    The $145 tasting menu seems a bigger risk than the $95 four-course prix fixe, which offers more flexibility in choices and frankly is comparable to prices at the other three most expensive places in town: L'Espalier, O Ya, Clio/Uni. (That is, until you order from that marquee French- and Italian-heavy wine list, which probably blows up that comparison, if Lynch's typical wine pricing pertains. Maybe there are some bargains among the Austrian bottles.)

    I'm going to go out of naked curiosity, splurge or no, and I can't write it off.

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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    L'Espalier
    774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

    O Ya
    9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

    Menton
    354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

    16 Replies
      1. re: Bob Dobalina

        I'm hoping it will be a worthy local occasion-dining place. L'Espalier has lost the magic for us since the move to the Mandarin, even though the food and service are as good as ever. That room just sucks compared to the townhouse.

        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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        L'Espalier
        774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Totally agree regarding L'Espalier -- it's very nice, but "lost the magic" is a perfect way to put it. It just feels like a generic fancy restaurant now, even though everything is impeccable. It doesn't feel special anymore.

      2. re: MC Slim JB

        When you go to a marquee spot like Menton is angling to be (and, I assume, will be), where does the food generally come from? I'm really not sure how menus at these places are decided upon, or how often they change, and so forth.

        I'm becoming very big into sustainability and/or agricultural responsibility, and the blind menu aspect of a place like Menton has me slightly nervous. Am I right to assume that, for the prices you're paying and the quality of food you're expecting to receive, you are going to be eating something more akin to beef raised in a local farmer's back fields, as opposed to some grain-fed factory cow from the midwest? Or fish caught with a pole on a dinghy off the Cape, as opposed to something trawled up off Indonesia?

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        Menton
        354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

        1. re: FinnFPM

          sustainability is not really her calling card, nor what she's promoting here, but she does use plenty of organic and local product at no. 9.

          however, our short growing season here precludes local year-round fruits and veggies and we also don't have a whole lot of beef-raising going on.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            I wouldn't expect the menu to "focus" on sustainability by any means -- I understand that's not what's being promoted here. I do, however, believe that when you're paying that much for food, the quality of the actual ingredients should (and generally do... I hope) match the talent of the chefs in question.

            1. re: FinnFPM

              I think it's safe to say that Lynch and Co. are highly focused on ingredient quality.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                it is kind of a surprising question. our high-end chefs chase the best of the best ingredients.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  I sort of feel that the question should be asked by diners all the time, regardless of where they're eating. It's just too important, for a great number of reasons, to make assumptions about. Some focus on high-quality, some focus on local, some focus on both. I'm just trying to flesh out the specific attitudes behind Menton.

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                  Menton
                  354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                  1. re: FinnFPM

                    I think you would be hard-pressed to find a fine-dining chef in Boston who doesn't claim to be focused on local and high-quality ingredients. It's been a marketing mantra for years now.

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      I agree -- this is all the more reason to actually ask questions about it.

                      1. re: FinnFPM

                        i guess i have been in fine dining a long time, know who sells what to whom and feel very confident that the better chefs in the city care about what they serve and where it comes from. i know them personally and see their passion for food. none of them are slinging sysco steaks, trust me.

                        that being said, i try not to let orthodoxy get in the way of enjoying an excellent meal in a beautiful space.

                      2. re: MC Slim JB

                        The operative word being "claim"?
                        C.

                        1. re: CocoDan

                          Many restaurants now talk about their sourcing philosophy and sometimes list some of their suppliers on their websites. Examples:
                          http://www.rendezvouscentralsquare.co...
                          http://www.hamersleysbistro.com/food_...

                          Many use their menus to document the origin of every major ingredient of every dish, down to the heirloom legumes, though that's a menu prose trend that I think is waning.

                          Whether they do these things or not, my next question is: if we're really interested in a local sourcing approach, what do we ask? "Is it really local? I mean, *really* local?!"

                          If your server says yes, and maybe even rattles off some names of local suppliers, I don't see diners as being in much of a position to challenge those claims, especially once you've sat down. Do we ask to see the walk-in? The manifests of vendors? I think there's some homework to be done ahead of time, but it's difficult to know what's real and what's empty hype.

                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            You're 100% correct. Once I'm in my chair and pull myself up to the table, I'm going to try to get the most enjoyment out of the dining experience. As long as it's fresh, I'm a happy camper.
                            CocoDan

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              It's not a bad habit to get into but is also a bit of a worm hole. Do the names of a bunch of farms mean a lot to most people? If you really are concerned, you should also ask how the farmer raises those chickens, what they do to the hens that don't lay eggs anymore, how much they are rotated to new areas of the farm. If you find out that your meat isn't coming from Massachusetts (which is very likely), that doesn't necessarily mean that its bad meat. Maybe it comes from California but is actually raised well and ethically. A lot of chefs get their meat from Niman Ranch, which to a lot of us has a good reputation, but Bill Niman left and founded a new place because he wasn't satisfied with their practices.

                              I don't mean to be a downer here or at all minimize the importance of the question, but honestly if one decides to make a decision to truly eat ethically they should be calling restaurants way ahead of time and following up on farms and who they are. Plenty of restaurants list farms on the menus knowing that ____ Farm sounds good enough to most people, though that gives no indication of its scale, process, etc. Asking here is a good idea but we don't really know either. Making a decision at the spur of the moment is nearly impossible.

          2. Yes MC, I'm of that school of waiting a couple of months. Unless I have a client that absolutely has to go there, I'll wait for some reviews, and as I'm a true believer, let them burn in the kitchen, and weed out the staff. Boy, am I getting to be a real curmudgeon! Yikes!
            Go for it MC,
            CocoDAn

            1. My husband and I were literally the second party to be seated on opening night! I will post a full review very soon, but in the meantime I will say that the experience was absolutely wonderful. We opted for the 4 course prix fixe and added a cheese course. There was nothing about the food or service that would indicate that this was a new restaurant. The only hiccup (if you can even call it that) in service was that we received our dessert wine pairing after the food was brought to the table. That's it.

              I love the simple elegance of the space (the pre-opening pictures don't do it any justice). It feels lush but at the same time comfortable.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Momeaux

                Thanks very much for the response that includes actual experience dining there-I hope others will chime in once they've been - I still haven't been to O Ya or Clio, so maybe that's the answer, but it kind of feels like a whole different (Asian-influenced) ballgame at them...

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                O Ya
                9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                1. re: rlh

                  I wouldn't say that Clio is really asian influenced (unless you count the smell from Uni wafting into the dining room, which can be extremely offputting to the refined tasting menu). Uni and Clio are in adjacent spaces, however Uni is a sashimi bar, and Clio would best be described as new french (I think). They are very separate menus and concepts. Clio generally has a raw fish app or tasting menu component, but that's it.

                  O Ya is clearly sashimi and asian.

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                  O Ya
                  9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                  1. re: Gabatta

                    I detect a regular strain of Japanese ingredients, flavors and presentation sensibility in Clio's food. It's subtle, not a ham-handed kind of fusion, but I think it has always been there. Clio is indeed primarily New French in outlook, but that thin Asian thread runs through a lot of the menu, mainly but not just Japanese: Indian, Indonesian, Thai, etc., but never more than as an underscoring or accent element.

                    (The Uni smell bugs me, too, crimps my excitement at checking out the handiwork of their allegedly great new bartender.)

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      re clio bartender, they do have a great house Swedish punsch...

              2. Unlike most of the responses so far, I actually have been to Menton. =) We went for dinner two nights ago. The short answer is that yes, you should keep your reservation!

                My first impression was in total agreement with Momeaux --- it did not feel like a restaurant that had been open for only four days. Unlike say Market, in the W Hotel, which had excellent food but a thoroughly confused front of the house when we went there a week after they opened, Menton felt polished and professional.

                The first thing I was surprised by is that it's a very small restaurant. It feels very formal. I found the interior lovely, if a little austere in a modern way, which seems quite appropriate for Boston. Oddly, it reminds me a little of the old L'Espalier space, which I also loved, because it's also small, and while elegant has a kind of New England austerity, although of course in a very modern way, and thus unlike the old L'Espalier in that respect. MC Slim will be pleased to know that even on a very warm night almost every man was wearing a jacket, and most were wearing ties. Nary a baseball cap in sight.

                The wine list, of course, was very extensive, but we didn't sample from it. Instead, we had some cocktails. The bar may not be as extensive as Drink next door, but the level of sophistication is very high. My companion had a Garibaldi to drink, which was exceptionally smooth. I had a non-alcoholic cocktail, that was similar in taste, but smelled of grapefruit before it was even set down. Tonic water, two kinds of bitters, with grapefruit oil and lots of fresh grapefruit zest. A South Side was also made with great care, felt smooth, and was chilled just right.

                Service throughout was very gracious and very formal. The ratio of waiters to patrons was very high, and they did all the right things --- leading you to the bathroom, folding napkins near instantaneously, parting like the Red Sea if you try to cross their paths. Only the most minor missteps were made, such as the very young runner presenting my amuse-bouche before the lady's, and someone swiping a not yet completely, but almost finished cocktail. It really felt like a restaurant that had been around for a while, not a brand new one.

                The menu itself is a real departure for Barbara Lynch. It is New French through and through, albeit with a little more lobster than you might otherwise expect. A pithy way to describe this might French preparations and technique simplified to enable artisinal proteins and heirloom vegetables to show their flavors. Not usually actually my favorite style --- personally I tend to prefer the complexity of a restaurant like Clio --- but I ended up being very impressed.

                The menu is divided into two sections --- a four course prix-fixe with three or four choices per category for $95, and a seven-course chef's tasting for $145 per person. I found the menu's mixture of French and English a little amusing. For example, we both started with Terrine of Foie Gras de Canard. Among the desserts you can have a Rhubarb Clafoutis, a Chocolate Crémeux or a Banana-Miso Tart. Why not a Tarte? Suffice it to say that there are many acute accents scattered across the pages. =)

                But the Terrine de Foie Gras of Duck was terrific, with truffle jelly nestled within the terrine, and really wonderful Muscat grapes and grape gelée accompanying it. We followed that with an Artichoke Velouté, which had tasty artichoke chips floating about, but which were too large to eat comfortably. The velouté was very fine, but ordinary, except for the addition of some toasted wild rice, which brought it to a whole new level. I thought this was emblematic --- a simple French preparation with a simple twist that created something special.

                She had the duck which was good, but the duck consommé ladled over it was extraordinary and made the dish sing. I had veal sweetbreads which were very tender and rich, and accompanied by three beautiful varieties of baby carrots.

                The aforementioned Rhubarb Clafoutis was delightful, with strong but not overwhelming orange blossom ice cream and nice pistachio. But the real star of the show for the evening was the Bitter Chocolate Crémeux, which we asked for from the tasting menu. The chocolate was great, but the best part was the olive-oil flavored ice cream and olive oil powder (a little molecular gastronomy touch). Marvelous.

                We had parmesan pudding and artichoke amuse bouche that was nothing special, some wonderful breads, and a cheese course created from the cart. The Pecorino was an excellent hard cheese, and we had an outstanding triple crème from Bourgogne. We had another soft cheese --- a mixture of sheep's milk and cow's milk, which was less inspiring. The honey, marmalade and nuts served with the cheese were well worth it --- the sourdough slices less so.

                The meal ended on a very high note with a glass globe filled with miniature French macaroons in four flavors --- vanilla, red peppercorn, basil and a very mild black-olive. What a treat! I'm a sucker for red peppercorn, especially in desserts, but I could have eaten these all night.

                Price came out, including tax and tip, to about $150 per person (again, with the four course prix fixe). Definitely didn't leave hungry, but I did find the portion size, particularly that of the entrée, to be a little too small and precious. Both were very rich, but perhaps something slightly larger would serve to distinguish them better as entrées other than simply being meats. I'm all for small plates, but a larger entrée is still satisfying. The appetizer portions were totally reasonable. The only other disappointment was the tea, which was an only slightly over-brewed but none-too-special oolong. From chatting with the GM after the meal I gather they are in the process of revamping their tea program.

                We saw the chef's table room in the kitchen (very nice) and a much larger private room that has a pleasant view of Congress St and it's own kitchen, apparently used only for private parties. We also saw glimpses Barbara Lynch in chef's whites through the kitchen doors and occasionally making rounds in the dining room.

                Already in their first week, this is clearly a professional team that has assembled a restaurant that really delivers. I think it will only become stronger. Finally, I must disclose the following: although of course there is valet parking, finding an almost certainly legal on-street space only two blocks away from the restaurant put me in a good mood for the rest of the evening, so my review should be interpreted with that in mind. =)

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                Menton
                354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                 
                 
                 
                 
                4 Replies
                1. re: lipoff

                  Thanks for the detailed report. I loved the disclaimer at the end. Funny how things like that will set the tone for the evening. Though finding a legal spot on the street in Boston is a real coup.

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      Aw shucks man, them photos ain't no thing. But they might show the contrast between the generous portion of foie gras, and the miniscule portion of the duck entrée. And the loveley macroons, of course. Last night I dreamed I was stuck inside a giant version of that glass globe and had to eat through millions of those macroons to escape.

                       
                    2. re: lipoff

                      Thanks for the report. I know what you mean about the parking! I once found a legal space a couple of blocks away from the old L'Espalier and it put me in a good mood. This was a few years ago and I still remember it as a highlight of the night.

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                      L'Espalier
                      774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                    3. Okay, here's my way too long winded review!

                      As soon as my husband found out that Menton was taking reservations for opening night he wanted to reserve a table. I was initially apprehensive for some of the reasons stated in this thread. I figured it would make sense to wait a couple of months to let them work out any of the kinks. After reminding me about how much we loved the tasting menu experience at No. 9 Park, that Drink had become one of our favorite bars in Boston, and my general respect and admiration for Barbara Lynch, he convinced me that it would be a memorable evening. By the time we booked, the only table left was at 5:30pm.

                      The space is, for me, instantly inviting. It’s warm but sleek. The lounge area consists of three or four cream colored couches, with Iranian rugs with brown accents, and small glass and metal tables. It felt very much like a living room and nothing at all “barlike”. It appears all the mixing and pouring is done behind closed doors, as I don’t recall seeing a display of wine or liquor bottles anyway. Admittedly, I wasn’t paying close attention to the lounge as I was very focused on getting to our table. The dining room, again is sleek with dark gray wood paneled walls. There is a banquette on one side of the room done in a silver metallic fabric with large mirrors covering the wall behind it. There is a chandelier encased in glass box at the entry to the dining room. In the middle of the room is a dark wood credenza that houses all of the silverware, plateware, and maybe some of the glassware. All of the servers wore dark suits and other serving staff wore dark pants and vests with white shirts. Female servers wore all black.

                      We started the evening with a cocktail, I believe the Hearst (the cocktail menu is limited to a about 7 or 8 drinks, wines by the glass, and some beers). The wine list is a bound in a lovely black leather cover and is quite extensive ranging from $50/$60 up to $1200 a bottle. We didn’t spend much time on the list as we had previously decided we would do a the wine pairing with our meal.

                      We chose to do the four course prix fixe, even though the seven course tasting menu looked fabulous. There were a number of fish dishes on it and I am allergic to fish. Though I’m sure they would allow substitutions, we decided that we would save the tasting menu for a follow up visit for a special occasion.

                      The food began with an amuse bouche of parmesan pudding with asparagus, lemon and a parmesan crisp. It was a light and refreshing way to begin the meal. The pudding was light and creamy, the asparagus was tender and flavorful and the parmesan crisp added a night crunch and saltiness to the dish.

                      Prior to our first course, we received our first bread service, which was brought to us on a silver platter – a mini croissant topped with honey that was buttery, crunchy, and just sweet enough. Husband and I both ordered the foie gras terrine to start. I simply can’t get enough of foie gras, but even for me the portion size here was quite large with three rows of sliced truffles and what I assume was a truffle gelee running through the slice. It was garnished with white grapes, walnuts, and small cubes of grape gelee and was served with toasted brioche on a separate plate. Just as we were about to finish our brioche, even though quite a bit of foie gras remained, our server brought us another slice. It was paired with a sweet white wine (I am certain I will not remember most of the details about the wines, but I’ll do my best!) which complimented the dish nicely.

                      For our second bread course, we had a choice of either a oatmeal, whole grain, or rosemary roll. I opted for the whole grain roll and my husband chose the rosemary roll. My husband had the grey mullet en croute with fava beans and morels and I had the aracuana egg custard with langoustine and pea tendrils. My husband is not a big fish eater, but he thoroughly enjoyed it. He pointed out the broth was rich and after inhaling his foie gras, he was feeling a little buttered out. (I of course, being a helpful wife pointed out that he was not forced to devour his foie gras – an observation he promptly ignored.  ) My husband expected the whole piece of fish to be encased in some sort of bread product, but in reality there was a very delicate golden crust on the top of the fish, I have since found out is created by somehow adhering a very very thin slice of bread to the top of the fish.

                      I had been a little nervous to get the langoustine due to my fish allergy. For some reason I can eat some oysters and clams without a reaction but have had lots of trouble recently. I have had pretty consistent luck not getting sick from shrimp or lobster, so I was hopeful I would be okay with this dish. I started my dish by taking a bite of the egg custard on its own, which was good ---but the dish was elevated to greatness when I added a bite of the melt in your mouth tender langoustine. Then finally combining some of the pea tendril puree elevated the dish again. The vadouvan was an unexpected touch that added a nice twist to the dish. This dish just kept getting better and better the more I ate it. I’ve only recently discovered that I can eat more seafood that I originally thought, so I don’t think I have fully acquired a taste for it. Frankly, I was concerned I wouldn’t enjoy the dish at all, but it was quite the contrary. It was one of the two best seafood dishes I have ever had (the other is the scallop dish we had at No. 9 Park when we did the tasting menu there).

                      The third bread service was a repeat of the second, but by this point I was getting full so I opted to skip the bread this time. Husband tried the oatmeal roll. All of the rolls were baked beautifully and the second batch had clearly come right of the oven.

                      Husband had the duck with farro as his third course and I had the duet of beef. The duck was husband’s favorite dish. I sampled a bit, and again, the duck was cooked perfectly, juicy, tender, lots of layers of flavor. My duet of beef was simply marvelous. The first preparation was a braised shortrib that again, was melt in your mouth fantastic. The other preparation was sliced sirloin with a hint of fleur de sel that was simple but flawlessly executed. The parsnip puree had a velvety consistency that I cannot describe. The roasted mini onions added a nice sweetness and crunch to the dish. All of the meat shone in the meal and I think is a true testament to the incredible talent in the kitchen.

                      My eyes lit up when we entered the restaurant and I saw the cheese cart. I have an extreme cheese obsession (which has recently been nurtured by my first Cheese Dinner at L’Espalier and my favorite waiter at Sel de la Terre, Back Bay who has made a habit out of bringing us ridiculous cheese plates from the L’Espalier cheese cart…more on that in another post!). The cheese cart here had many interesting, and of course at this point I remember EXACTLY none of the names of the terrific sampling we had but I remember what they tasted like. We started with a hard goat’s milk cheese, a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese that was Manchego like, and a triple crème cow’s milk cheese that I could have licked off the plate. Thankfully my husband preferred the goat’s milk cheese, so I was able to make a cunning trade with him for his share of the triple crème. Just as our server was done slicing the cheeses, another server brought our accompaniments to the table. They included a gooey thick citrus honey, a chutney, candied cashews, and addictive spiced pistachios. The sourdough crisps where thin and airy and I actually really liked their simplicity and it is served as a nice backdrop on which to showcase the cheese.

                      Finally, for dessert, I had the Banana Miso Tart and Husband had the Coffee Caramel Parfait. My tart came with slices of banana, a meyer lemon foam, chocolate ice cream nestled on top of a peanuts that were looked like they had been minced and tasted like peanut butter. Thin toasts of caramelized brioche sat on the plate. The filling for the tart was not as firm as I expected but it had just enough banana flavor and it worked well against the crispy crust of the tart shell. Husband’s dessert was incredible. In the middle of the plate was a round coffee truffle dusted in cocoa powder that was creamy and silky. It was accompanied by a financier cookie that Husband only described as “buttery” (that was the word of the evening for him). He also a mousse that was a touch salty but he felt balanced out the dish nicely (similar to what the brioche toasts did to my dish).

                      To accompany our cappuccino and espresso, we received a small glass container filed with mini macaroons in four colors: white, pink, pastel green, and an olive green. White = vanilla, pink = pink peppercorn, pastel green = basil, and olive green = black olive. The flavoring intensity was subtle, creeping up on you after a few bites. It was a refined, perfectly executed, and slightly unexpected touch. I think that really encompasses our first experience at Menton and what I hope will continue to mark our experiences there. My heart raced the first time Barbara walked by our table. The second time, I smiled and she stopped to speak to us. She was so polite, accepted our compliments graciously, and rubbed my Husband’s arm as we spoke. She made us feel special. As did all her staff, and her food. Her love for and dedication to this project are evident in the final product and I can’t wait to get back for another unforgettable experience.

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                      Sel de la Terre
                      774 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02199

                      Menton
                      354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Momeaux

                        could you tell me how the miso was used in the dessert? that sounded intriguing to me.

                        1. re: nasilemak

                          Given the my only experience with miso is in a soup with tofu and seaweed, I will admit to not being able to identify it's flavor in any one component of the dish. My guess is that it was in the tart filling. However, in whatever way it was incorporated, it worked very well! :)

                      2. Menton is amazing. I don't have time for a full review but I'll say that the service was impeccable, the food to die for (save room for the cheese plate), and the end of the night included some chatting with Barbara in the kitchen. There was both formality and graciousness. (I'm a student and did feel bad that we dropped $400 on a dinner for two -- that money could have fed a whole village in India -- but it was good enough that I'll do it again. )

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                        Menton
                        354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                        1. We just had the 7 course tasting menu (8 including the cheese course) at Menton. The choice of venue was not mine. I'm not a fan of Barbara Lynch's restaurants because, while the cocktails are flawless, I'm always underwhelmed by the food, which I find bland, and the service, which too often veers towards officious.

                          That said, I thought the food at Menton was surprisingly good, with the exception of two of the meat courses. Highlights for me were my cocktail (the gin, lemon, and lavender drink), the first bread service (mini croissant with honey and fleur de sel), the foie gras with lemon segments - such a perfect combination -, the delectable risotto with bacon and fennel, the black olive mini macarons. The two joyless meat courses were the squab (moist and tender as it was, the flavors on the plate were uni-dimensional) and the shockingly bad lamb dish - the meat was tough and flavorless, even the fat was hard, and the accompanying eggplant and pinenut terrine was bitter and undercooked. I was also disappointed by the rhubarb clafoutis: I'm a big rhubarb fan but the fruit here was hard and needed more sugar. The scoop of orange blossom ice cream on top was heavenly, though. Service was as it always is at Lynch's restaurants (not surprising given that there were familiar faces from 9 Park): competent and professional but with a slightly haughty edge and a lack of genuine warmth.

                          On the basis of the experience, I won''t return to Menton. Several of the dishes were delightful, but given the rigidity of the set-menu concept (both the large quantity and lack of choice on offer), and the expense of the meal, there are many other far better restaurants in the area that challenge, delight and restore for the same price (or less).

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                          Menton
                          354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                          6 Replies
                            1. re: peelmeagrape

                              could you tell me which local restaurants are worth 400 a couple? outside of Cote D'Or in France and Per Se in NY, I haven't experienced any.

                              1. re: teezeetoo

                                My wife and I ate here last night. Without going into huge amounts of detail, we really enjoyed it. I felt the space, the service, and the food were all a level above what I've had at No 9 park, and I'd definitely consider going back for a special occasion. Total came out to about $300 for the two of us (with 4 course tasting and a couple of glasses of wine.)

                                Re: the above poster's comment that the service feels 'haughty' -- I didn't get that vibe at all. Our server was really excellent -- warm, informative, helpful with food and wine recommendations. My wife is pregnant and he really outdid himself trying to accommodate her efforts to avoid raw/unpasteurized food (don't get me started on that!) . For example, they happily served the crab first course without caviar. They also brought her a complimentary non-alcoholic cocktail (mint, lime, and simple syrup -- awesome!). Finally, when I looked longingly at the cheese course but didn't order (many fancy cheeses are unpasteurized and 'not recommended' for pregnant ladies), they brought us a free sampling of cheese with dessert, including two hard cheeses that they pointed out were pasteurized so she could eat them. These kind of little, attentive touches are what set a place like this apart, and make me want to go back for more!

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                                Menton
                                354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                1. re: damneddemand

                                  I share the experience of service at Lynch restaurants as being very good and attitude-free: super detail-oriented and professional, esp. at No. 9. Cultivating that service culture is one of her great assets. By comparison, I've experienced comparative weirdness and affectation (on the part of individual servers, not generally) at other high-end places in town on various occasions, notably at Meritage, Clio, and L'Espalier. I think the excess of "personality" was supposed to be part of the experience these servers were trying to deliver, but I think I prefer the appearance of sincerity to arch attempts at charm.

                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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                                  L'Espalier
                                  774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                                  Meritage Restaurant
                                  70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, MA 02110

                                2. re: teezeetoo

                                  What I wrote was: "there are many other far better restaurants in the area that challenge, delight and restore for the same price (or less)." I didn't make a claim that "restaurant x" is "worth" $400/couple. The reason I didn't write that is because it seems that what's "worth it" varies greatly from person to person, not only as a factor of the perceived quality of the experience, but also as a factor of one's disposable income.

                                  1. re: teezeetoo

                                    To put the pricing in perspective... at the top restaurants in Europe (and there are many) figure more like $1000 per couple with just a modest wine. ... a product of higher prices in general and the weak dollar. Sadly, these days $400 is too easy to spend in NYC (or any city for that matter) at a myriad of top spots, including steak houses. Of course wine is a big factor. Att Per Se that's not even possible (menu is $275/head for food... includes gratuity but no beverages or wine.

                                    In a time when diners are moving away from haut cuisine for many reasons (lifestyle, economics) and high end restaurants are closing or lowering their prices... Barbara Lynch has the food world watching to see what happens with her new venture. I am happy to see that she is coming out of the gate with such glowing comments. Not surprising it's busy now. The true test will be in 6 - 9 months when the initial buzz and novelty fades. Will those that try it return? It's amazing to see her going this route during these times. I wish her all the best with Menton and hope it succeeds.

                                    www.wineag.com

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                                    Menton
                                    354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                3. Menton is certainly tempting for a special occasion dinner, but I'm a bit concerned about the fact that there are only multi-course offerings, no a la carte menu. My wife and I are both on the small side with limited capacity and find that we often have to split US entrees, or make a meal of just one or two courses instead of three or more.

                                  Those of you who've eaten there - what's your sense of the total volume of the smaller (four-course?) menu compared to typical local portions?

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                                  Menton
                                  354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: BobB

                                    The four-course prix fixe has several options (at least thee and in some cases five) for each course. That doesn't strike me as incredibly limiting, and doesn't seem much narrower than many small-restaurant menus. I suspect a discussion with someone at the restaurant ahead of time can give you some comfort level that they'll have some options you like on the night you plan to go. They claim to be very accommodating to dietary restrictions, for instance.

                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      I'm not worried about finding options we'll like, I'm more concerned that we'd have to order (or at least pay for) four courses when that might be more food than we can eat. Are they all small enough that it won't be an issue?

                                      A subjective question, I know, I'd just like to get some sense of their portion size before committing to a multi-hundred-dollar meal.

                                      1. re: BobB

                                        Second-hand info, but it's not a doggie-bag kind of place. Pretty small portions by American standards.

                                        A friend said the bigger tasting menu, made up of more but smaller courses than the prix fixe, left her pleasantly but not overly full. I find that the L'Espalier degustation with meat and seafood is too much of a good thing of really rich food, and often go with the vegetable one as a result.

                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          Four courses is definitely on the smallish side -- I think even someone with a small appetite could (and would want to!) eat everything they were served. I did manage to leave feeling a little full, but only after eating basically a whole cheese plate and more than my share of the aforementioned macaroons. I'm also not typically a big eater (I often leave unfinished plates even at fancy restaurants that serve modest portions, and usually skip or share appetizers and / or dessert.)

                                        2. re: BobB

                                          To put it mildly, worrying that the portion size might be too large at Menton will not be a concern.

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                                          Menton
                                          354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                          1. re: BobB

                                            At most restaurants, depending on how hungry we're feeling and what the ingredients are in the dishes (green salads and sorbet or hearty meat dishes), we'll order two apps and split a main, one app and share two mains, or one app, one main and one dessert, split between 2 people). At Menton, we were stuffed after the 7 course tasting menu (no wine) - and I only had a bite of the squab and the lamb. So for us, the inflexible 4-course/7-course set up is a turn-off.

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                                            Menton
                                            354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                            1. re: peelmeagrape

                                              That sounds exactly like us, and is why I'm concerned about this policy. But damneddemand's comment above makes it sound like the four-course would be manageable.

                                        3. re: BobB

                                          Don't worry, Barbara Lynch is very adept at offering small portions.

                                        4. Well, I was wowed. My wife and I had the chef's tasting menu at Menton on Saturday, and it was pretty much the best meal I've ever had.

                                          The food was exceptional; every course was delicious, interesting, and meticulously detailed. I don't have time to go into per-course detail (there were around 12 of them!) but they were all very good at worst and truly outstanding at best. The food alone would not have catapulted it to #1 on my list, but it was really great.

                                          The wine pairing was even better; it was everything I hope for in a wine pairing. Each wine complemented its dish superbly, and every one of them was really interesting (e.g., a dry Muscat from Austria that tasted very much like a very dry Gewurtztraminer, a white blend from Italy including Nebbiolo of all grapes, and a red dessert-style wine right in the middle of the meal to accompany the foie gras course).

                                          The service was perfect - relaxed and gracious, luxurious but not in the least snooty. Every dish was described in detail, and our server spent a couple of minutes describing every wine, and we never felt that it was some sort of imposition on her time.

                                          As long as I'm mentioning everything, the bread ruled.

                                          People were talking about portion size - it was perfect for a long tasting menu. I was definitely full by the end, and appreciated for the sake of my stomach that nothing was entree-sized.

                                          Really the only complaint I can think of is that when we were offered a cheese course, we weren't told that there was an extra charge for it (there had been other extra courses that did not have an extra charge), or what the limit was (it turned out in retrospect to be three, as we selected four and got an additional charge).

                                          Craigie is still my favorite restaurant overall (for one thing, we can afford to go there more than once every couple of years), and O Ya may have been the most memorable meal as far as the food itself goes, but Menton has jumped to the top of my Super Special Occasion list.

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                                          O Ya
                                          9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                                          Menton
                                          354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: dfan

                                            FYI only- Menton received 4 stars in today's globe.

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                                            Menton
                                            354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                          2. We went last weekend and got the 4 course menu. I will note that I was checking the menu daily for over a week until the day of the reservation, and then was super upset to arrive at the restaurant and find that two of the 4 courses I was planning to order were suddenly off the menu. Of course, I knew there was a chance the menu would change, but 2 of my 4 choices? So that really put a damper on things. The upside is that we had drinks at Drink beforehand, so I was happily "happy" by the time I got this dreadful news.

                                            Realistically, we ended up with 3 additional food items (amuse bouches, macaroons) plus the 3 bread courses (honey croissant was amazing, and the oatmeal bread roll was really yummy). My favorite course was actually the poached vegetable salad. It was really extraordinary - I love vegetables, and to get young, flavorful vegetables was just heaven. The chocolate cremeux dessert was very very good, but I had my heart set on the rhubarb claffoutis, which had magically disappeared overnight. We did end up with all 3 desserts (the waitress brought the one neither of us ordered as an extra special something since we were there "for a special occasion"), and I thought mine was the best of the 3 (the other two were the strawberry shortcake and lemon tart).
                                            I'm not sure we'll return. We don't tend to enjoy French restaurants, particularly ones with tasting menus, as much as other cuisines, so while this was good, I'm not sure there was enough awesomeness to warrant repeat visits.

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                                            Menton
                                            354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                            1. I'll be going to Menton this weekend for my birthday. I'll be flying in from DC to spend the weekend with my parents and boyfriend (and of course attend the Red Sox vs Yankees game...GO SOX!)

                                              How often does the menu change at Menton? They have a menu up on their website now...is that up-to-date? Any recommendations from a recent visit?

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                                              Menton
                                              354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Elyssa

                                                I believe the menu changes substantially from week to week, but that certain items are kept on seasonally. The online menu still has a lot of items I recall from a visit some weeks ago. I notice they still have the kataifi-wrapped langoustines on the prix fixe, a dish I recommend.

                                                You can call ahead to get an idea of what they're likely to have this weekend.

                                                It's a fancy place: you don't want to wear your ballpark gear there. (And yes, I know that should go without saying.)

                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                              2. ‘Menton is pronounced like wonton…it’s in France but they speak Italian’…or so went the banter on Chronicle last week. The piece reminded me to review our recent experience there.

                                                We did try Menton a few weeks back (it was the choice of friends we were dining with). Looking back now, there was not too much memorable about the meal (unfortunately), and we will not be hurrying back. The entire experience was like the space – just not very inspiring or special. I would say that the service was excellent, the food was ok to very good and the atmosphere was not at all cozy or to my personal taste.

                                                We opted for the 4-course menu due to consensus among the table. Even though this was a recent meal, I honestly have to think very hard to re-piece what my courses were, let alone those of my DCs. To me this speaks volumes, as my memory is generally like a steel trap. As has been mentioned, the bread is really a highlight and we never turned down another piece or 2. However when at a fine dining establishment, I should be telling myself to avoid the bread as not to fill up for the other wonderful food, so this was a bit odd.

                                                I started with the foie, which was just lacking overall depth and complexity flavor IMO. It was unexpectedly bland and honestly one of the most disappointing foie dishes I have ever tried, leading me to believe something may have been off with the dish that evening (though it was one of the few portions which were not a bit stingy). My wife had the salmon, which was a more inspired and flavorful. Unfortunately, the portions were so small that I felt guilty taking a second bite from her dish.

                                                For the second course, 3 of the 4 people at our table ordered the langoustines. This dish was truly special and the standout of the evening for me. It was great to see a rarely used protein (in this region at least) prepared in such a flavorful and creative way. I appreciated that the langoustines were not overpowered by the accompaniments, and one could still taste that clean ocean flavor. The pickled rhubarb was a very nice contrast to the langoustines. It was the consensus standout dish of the evening, nothing else approached this. If not for the pre-fixe menus, this dish could be the centerpiece of a great meal.

                                                The third courses were all pretty uninspired; it took me a bit to remember what I even ordered. My lamb was perfectly cooked, but nothing at all special from a flavor perspective. Ditto for the quail that a DC ordered.

                                                The desserts were all good, but not something I would order again if not for the prix fixe. I believe we made a mistake not ordering the cheese to go with some of the nice wines we are drinking. Despite an expensive 4-course meal, we snacked soon after returning home (and we are not overly heavy eaters).

                                                One place Menton really excels is in the service; it was outstanding in every way. Our server was extremely knowledgeable, and managed to explain any questions on the menu or specific ingredients without being condescending. The recommendations for food and wine parings were spot on, without up-selling to more expensive vintages. Service was warm and polite, without ever intruding or interrupting the conversation of flow of the meal. The overall service team took cues from the table lead and orchestrated the delivery of each course beautifully and efficiently. It was truly a pleasure to watch.

                                                As far as the pricing and value; we went into the evening, fully aware of the cost, and therefore were able to enjoy the evening without having a gut check whenever another cocktail or bottle of wine was ordered. That being said, if there are 14 total choices from which to pick 4 courses, surcharging for 3 of the courses available that evening is preposterous in my opinion. I was slightly offended to pay a 'supplement' on 3 of the 6 courses my wife and I ordered (when our portion of the bill ultimately came to over $400). We have had the good fortune to enjoy many fine (prix-fixe and a la carte) meals across the world that could only be considered a luxury and we were somewhat embarrassed to indulge in. However in most of those experiences we never felt for a second that it was not worth it. Granted, Menton is not expensive as some of those places, but we did feel it was a poor value and not worth a return visit. Even given the acute lack of special occasion dining in Boston, we won’t be back unless one of my clients specifically requests it.

                                                We found the aesthetics of the space just completely uninspiring. Our DC’s liked the space and considered understated. We just felt it was sterile and not at all cozy. Other than the superb service, one would not really walk in here and feel that it is a special place. Looking into the kitchen, one could certainly see where some of the revenue inflated prix fix fee was going. They spared no expense on the facility and the kitchen looks beautiful. I think Lynch wanted a shiny toy to rival the kitchen at the new L'Espalier.

                                                If not for the bar it had set for itself and the cost, I might consider Menton good but not great. However, given the expectations I would say my overall assessment is Meh-nton. Too bad as we are still hoping for new special occasion dining places in Boston.

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                                                Menton
                                                354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Gabatta

                                                  Thanks very much for the thoughtful detailed review - I am still intrigued by the place, and Menton stays on top of my expense account wish list for right time and place, but O Ya will still be my first choice when I pay the bill for a memorable night out without concern for price or portion size...

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                                                  O Ya
                                                  9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                                                  Menton
                                                  354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                                  1. re: rlh

                                                    That was my wife's comment on the way home, "We should definitely get back to O Ya soon".

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                                                    O Ya
                                                    9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                                                2. As far as I'm concerned, this is *the* restaurant in Boston. In the same week that I ate at Menton I also ate at Per Se (in NY, where I live), Journeyman, and Bergamot. Menton was by far the best, followed by Per Se. A distant third, naturally, was Bergamot, with Journeyman at the bottom. (My review of Journeyman is also on this site. I don't know if I'll post about Bergamot. The meal was tasty. I would go back.) A year ago I ate at L'Espalier and found it nothing to write home about (as it were). The main thing I remember from it is the mushy domestic caviar and the self-conscious service. I've also eaten at Craigie, several times in its old location and once in its new. I've found that they usually have at least one ingredient too many that doesn't fit with the rest of the dish.

                                                  Everything at Menton - save two things, one relating to food and one relating to service - was superb. The combinations were both inventive and delicious. Each plate was differently arranged. The lack of visual contrast was one of the main problems at Per Se, where everything was excellently prepared, but had a sameness of presentation: the main ingredient sitting on top of the garnishes. At Menton they've thought about how the dishes should look and they understand that they should vary the layout. I had the $95 prix fixe. I'll try to be as critical as possible, but the quibbles are few. The foie gras to start was a little too buttery rather than foie-y, but beautifully served. The arctic char imaginatively sat two-thirds out of a potato broth which was so good that it washed away my skepticism; little potatoes of various sorts were also in the dish, along with fish roe. The main course of venison was dusted in - now I've forgotten - perhaps powdered coffee and chocolate? A slightly and wonderfully bitter foil to the venison. The venison was farm venison, another quibble. But these quibbles are a reach. The meal was great.

                                                  Now for the two somewhat larger disappointments. The lemon tart was ordinary and edged over into being too sweet; there was nothing terribly wrong with it but it could have been had in dozens of other restaurant. It was a letdown compared to the rest of the meal.

                                                  The second was the one tiny flaw in the service, which was generally extraordinary. One incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic server who was very helpful with the wine murmured, several times, "pardon my reach". (Where has this overcompensating locution come from? It was the leitmotif at Journeyman.) That was the only unprofessional note in what was easily the best service I've experienced recently in a restaurant in the US. At Per Se, the servers were of two types. The first was polished, professional, and warm. Unfortunately, those servers were not the people typically bringing the food to the table and commenting on it. The second type was the self-conscious mumblers who said things like, "this here ....", pointing to the plate. At Menton, everyone - and there were a lot of them - shone. The staff love what they're doing.

                                                  This is a restaurant that is at the top of its game.

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                                                  L'Espalier
                                                  774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                                                  Menton
                                                  354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: wea74

                                                    Maybe we had the same knowledgeable and enthusiastic server, but I certainly remember hearing "pardon my reach" innumerable times during the meal at Menton. I wonder if perhaps the whole staff was instructed to say this? It neither bothered me nor impressed me. But I have the same overall impression of Menton as you do. I really like it!

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                                                    Menton
                                                    354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                                    1. re: lipoff

                                                      It wouldn't surprise me if they are trained to say that. I have a friend who works for Barbara Lynch's catering company part time, and she was shocked at how much information the staff was given on all aspects, from what they are serving, to how each plate and utensil is placed on the table, to how they address guests.

                                                    2. re: wea74

                                                      I quite prefer "pardon my reach" to me flailing my arms around telling a tall tale and knocking the bottle out of the server's hand. Cuz then things just get awkward, overcompensating locution or no.

                                                      Thank you for the detailed review. Menton is not on my list, but I do enjoy reading about it.

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                                                      Menton
                                                      354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210