Valentines Day Reports
Ok, I'll go first: I was thrilled to show up at Mistral and discover that they were serving their normal menu. No special VD shlock. (Of course at Mistral's prices, perhaps they feel less pressure to squeeze extra revenue out of special occasion evenings.) After splitting the lamb lettuces with goat cheese and apple, I had the roast cod on paella risotto and my date (my 11-year-old daughter!) had the rack of lamb. (She has a knack for ordering the most expensive item on the menu. When she was 8, she ordered the surf and turf -- lobster tail and filet mignon -- at a Ritz Carlton in Orlando!) Everything was wonderful, as usual. If you're gonna splurge at Mistral, tonight was a good night to do it.
I did nothing on V day. My last disaster was at Strega in 2004 (?) and havn't bothered since. I mostly wanted to comment and say I hope, Blumie, that my children grow up and aspire to the chow level that your daugter is reaching....
379 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113
We don't usually venture out on V-day, but Monday night is our usual cheap-eats night out so we headed out anyway. We figured our usual haunt, Emma's Pizza, would be slammed so instead made reservations at Fiorella's in Newton. We wanted to keep it casual. The food was solid and the restaurant seemed calmer than usual, probably because it was all reservations and there were no hordes of hungry people waiting for tables.
Eggplant parm was good with excellent red sauce. Pasta was a bit past al dente. The halibut special was well-cooked and the risotto accompanying it was flavorful but also a bit overcooked. Ricotta cheesecake, a couple of espressos and a decent bottle of shiraz and we were out of there for $100 with tax and tip. A pleasant, low-key evening and no dishes to wash. Service was pleasant and attentive.
The restaurant is expanding, adding 36 seats out back and a full bar. That's good news and I doubt they'll have trouble filling the tables given how busy they usually are.
40 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139
187 North St, Newtonville, MA 02460
We went with The Phoenix's suggestion, and had our "Valiversary " Dinner at Mary Chung's. (Valiversary = VD and our Anniversary, 3 days apart). We're particularly fond of the fried bean curd with dun dun sauce, and the hot stuffed eggplant. We had them, as well as the Singapore noodles w. chicken, because I needed a curry fix.
Mary Chung Restaurant
460 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
We sat at the bar at Canary Square in JP last night. They served their regular menu. My dc started with deviled eggs which were really nice and then the wood grilled swordfish that was tasty. The wood grill really made a difference in taste. The cauliflower puree with israeli couscous (I think they called it something else on the menu) was a nice compliment.
I had their simple green salad and the salt cod fritters. I was worried they'd be too heavy, but they were really airy and light. Almost like cod popovers. They were served on top of a really mild cocktail sauce which I liked.
I ended the night with a BBC Coffeehouse Porter which is just too good. The place was busy, but not super crowded which is exactly what we were hoping for.
435 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130
Went to Aquitaine on Sunday night for a late-ish dinner and all of the food was fantastic. We started with french onion soup and the warm beet salad and both were delicious. I got a tagliatelle dish with sunflower seed pesto, creme fraiche and butternut squash that was incredible and I will definitely be ordering again, and my bf got the steak frites with truffle oil which he enjoyed immensely. For dessert we split the chocolate bread pudding--quite good-- and all of that was combined with a bottle of cabernet. Service was great throughout dinner if a little bit drawn out, but we enjoyed having a leisurely dinner for the occasion. One thing to note is that when the hostess called me to confirm the reservation a few days before, she told me that we were going to be put in a corner booth, which was exciting and a surprise. When we got there for our 8:00 reservation about ten minutes early, the hostess told us that they were just clearing the table and it would only be a minute or two, so we sat down at the bar to wait. A couple in their very early 20s was already waiting at the bar, and a few minutes after we got there, a guy who looked like the manager came over, shook the guy's hand and led them over to a table. The same manager came to get us at 8:20 and seated us at one of the small 2-person middle tables along the wall, in-between two other couples. The other couple that had been waiting was seated in the corner booth that we had thought was for us, so I think what happened is that the hostess who called me was trying to be extra nice and give us fun news about getting a corner booth, but then the hostess that night didn't think we already knew. We didn't say anything to the manager, as all of the other tables were filled, we were starving, and we really didn't want to start the night off with a confrontation, but I think they should stick to a policy of not telling diners about guaranteed table locations if they don't plan to actually keep those plans. In any case, all of the food was great and our server was very attentive and nice, so it was a wonderful Valentine's dinner.
I have always avoided dining out on Valentines Day like the plague but circumstances brought me to Chez Henri last night. I usually just sit at the bar and have wine, oysters and a cuban as I have long felt the dining room food to be overpriced and underwhelming so truth be told, I was not expecting much. We opted not to do the pre fixe and ordered off the regular menu.
I started with a Periodista which has rum, lime and apricot, I thought it was good but the citrus overpowered the rum and floral apricot.
My app was the delicious clams with chorizo in a great wine broth, my companion had the mushroom soup which I thought was too thick and underseasoned but the cheese dumpling was delicious.
For entrees I had the duck breast that was perfectly cooked rare, the toothsome and slightly crisped spaetzle was delicious with fresh pomegranite seeds.
We also had the trout, a very large portion with fresh green beans and a mound of delicious mashed potatoes. We finished with wine and a bit of zesty ginger sorbet.
Service was attentive and helpful and the whole evening was quite delightdful and had none of the terror I usually associate with the bridge and tunnel crew ascending on greater Boston.
I no longer fear Valentines Day dinner!
1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
We went to Alia Ristorante in Winthrop for dinner. They had a prix fixe three-course dinner for around $32, give or take. Everything was terrific, from the Caesar and Caprese salads to the frutti di mare to the veal to the tiramisu and chocolate mousse cake. Service was very quick, especially for Valentine's Day, and the place was fairly crowded but not packed.
Overall, another great experience at this little gem in Winthrop.
495 Shirley St, Winthrop, MA 02152
Do early weekend outings count? We never go out on V-Day. Must leave space for those who are excited about that event and don't go out that often.
We had another great meal at the Island Creek Dining bar on Saturday with a great bottle of Dominique Derain “Chute de Derain” Vin Mousseux imported by Violette. We have really been enjoying the new experience on the Island Creek wine list. This one is 100% Aligoté and was a great match for seafood.
It was the regular menu and we shared a wonderful piece of Cod, fish & chips. I think Tom heard us wondering about the shrimp meat balls and sent over a sample. I loved them. Reminded me of the inside of a great chinese dumpling and was surprised at how good the tomato sauce was with shrimp.
We also grabbed a bite at the MFA's New American Cafe on Sunday. (Still making our way through the galleries of the new wing.) It was nice enough but I really missed the relaxed feeling I get from taking a break at Bravo. That seems to let me gather my thoughts about what I've seen. Ed wrote about the MFA visit on BostonZest yesterday and came to the same conclusion.
I went to Limoncello last night and the service and (most) of the food was excellent. The squid ink pasta didn't really mesh well; the pasta seemed to be a bit too heavy for the lobster meat and the sauce.
Otherwise, everything else went perfect and I was suprised it was not as crowded as I had expected.
Originally planned to drive up to El Pelon for fish tacos/burritos, but didn't want to give up parking spot and tired after a long weekend. Instead ended up @ Central Bottle for a $1 Island Creek Oysters and wine flight as and appetizer. They also served a heart shaped goat cheese and a salami plate (?). Good crowd standing around, but not uncomfortable. On our way home we stopped @ Flour to get a dessert for later (trifle and mini cupcake). And then went back home to cook dinner.
2197 Commonwealth Ave., Brighton, MA 02135
196 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115