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80 Thoreau in Concord

Went by there the other day, they weren;t open yet for dinner service, but the space looked beautiful, and the menu looked interesting and reasonable...any feedback?

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  1. did you see the Globe piece?

      1. I had dinner there a few weeks after they opened, back in April I believe. Dinner was good - the star of the night was an appetizer with gnocchi and morels, fabulous earthy flavor and the gnocchi were seared, plump yet just a bit of crisp on the outside. I would eat that for an entree!

        My DC and I had the spring onion tartlette for the main course which was delicious - the sides of mushrooms and vegetables complemented the tartlet fabulously. Only complaint here is that there is only one vegetarian option on the menu. I hope as they establish themselves, they'll add more to the menu. Desserts of chocolate pudding and the rhubarb tartlet were both good but pretty standard.

        Service was great and attentive. And, prices were pretty reasonable for the Concord area! It was beautifully renovated and had a nice atmosphere inside, casual with just the right touch of "you're special" - everyone seemed to be saying hello to two other tables on their way in to their table.

        1. I've only been a coupla times and we ate in the bar area both times, so my data is a bit weak.

          Initial impressions are positive - the space is pleasant, airy, light, open. Folks who work there seem happy and give off a good vibe (our waiter the 2nd time knew us as he came to 80 from Il Capriccio where he had been their wine steward). The bar area where we ate was laid out in an unstructured arrangement...so it seemed wide open and, again, friendly. In fact, the bar area seems to take up about 20% of the floor space of the restaurant, which makes walk-ins easy and also is nice for late night drinking (which does occur in Concord!)

          For food, first time was burger for SO and onion tart for me. Next time was burgers all around for SO, child and self. The onion tart was quite good (but mine is better), but the vegetable sides for the tart were tasty and unusual and the star of the dish. As I recall, the sides were grilled/salted veggies that, as noted elsewhere, so nicely (through texture and the salting and not-too-much grilling) were a great complement to the tart. The tart was more butter than onion or custard or wondrous crust....twas good...not as eye-popping as the veg sides.

          Burgers were good. Good in size (some might say too good), good in texture, good in bun (ohmygosh...can't recall more bun details except to say that it held the burger, wasn't too big, didn't overwhelm me as the-bun-is-the-thing-and-not-the-burger), and good fries. A good balance in other words. I know there are burger threads on this list and I wouldn't recommend going far out of your way for this burger, but if you have a burger jones, 80 Thoreau will take care of your condition quite nicely.

          Pricing is good. We're not in AKA Bistro-land, and I am glad for that. The pricing, given the setting and quality of food and service, is appropriate. The last time we went, the bill was IIRC ~$90 and the previous time was $63. Both times had a coupla drinks (beers or cocktails) on them.

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          Il Capriccio
          888 Main St., Waltham, MA 02453

          9 Replies
          1. re: hondodog

            hondo, thnx for great detailed report on 80 Lincoln, but i don't understand why you're glad not to be near AKA Bostro?

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                Hondodog meant that the PRICING is not in AKA Bistro-land (aka expensive).

                I presume...

                1. re: sallyt

                  Right. AKA Bistro is wonderful food...just not in my price range when I feel like stepping out on a whim.

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                  AKA Bistro
                  145 Lincoln Rd, Lincoln, MA 01773

                  1. re: hondodog

                    really? I didn't realize it was much more exp than 80 Thoreau......

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      Well, it is when _I_ order. Your mileage may vary (and, in fact, does). Maybe you could share your secrets!

                      1. re: hondodog

                        hd, i re-read your post- NOW i see- your 'last time we went' was about 80 Lincoln, not AKA, right? I didn't realize that when i read it before

                        as to AKA cost,i just don't recall leaving AKA and thinking the bill was high- as I do when i leave Neptune Oyster, for instance. But i have no claims here. I have a very big appetite, so maybe i'm remembering prices incorrectly....

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                        Neptune Oyster
                        63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          yes, "last time we went" is supposed to be understood as "last time we went to 80 Thoreau"...sorry for my brevity being confusingly brief.

                          Gosh...maybe we should make a nite of it and stop at one...and then stop at the other...and then compare!

                          (Just to be clear, I've only ordered the AKA food from the french side of their menu.)

                          1. re: hondodog

                            aha! and I have only ordered food from the Japanese side!

            1. I just went to 80 Thoreau for the 3rd time last night and can confidently say this is an excellent dining establishment. Metro West, esspecially the northwest, has been dying for a restaurant like this for years and I am so happy it finnally showed up a year after I moved out here. My husband and I spent our first year making pilgramages to Cambridge because the only high quality restaurant out here was AKA Bistro and frankly they aren't as great as they think they are (or chagre for). 80 Thoreau could have opened in Cambridge or the South End and helt its own, no problem....there is no "phoning it in" because they know they are in the burbs at all!!

              What stands out for me is their commitment to quality throughout every detail.

              The space is beautifully rennovated....high ceilings, hickory floors, blemish free linens, interesting light fixtures that creat a mood instead of distract....the works....but it all simply creates an elegent but still inviting atmosphere that makes you want to take your DC for a nice date night or some good friends for a low key catch up over drinks and nibbles at the bar.

              The food is all seasonal, locally sourced when possible, and uniquely prepared without being pretentious, self righteous, or strange for the sake of being strange. The impecable technique of the kitchen crew really shows as ever plate I have been served every time has been spot on in terms of meat cooked to the perfect temp, pasta the simmered to just the right consistency, veggies never over or under done, great crumb or chewiness from the bread, seasoned just to the right strength without being weak or salty, plated beautifully, and served hot though well timed without my ever feeling rushed.

              The dishes I've tried so far are the seared gnocchi with morels (my favorite app so far, so tasty and such a nice combination of textures), the duck confit with salad greens and cherries ( very nice, but admittedly not life changing), the grilled lamb with turnovers (soooooo good! The turnover lamb filling is heavenly....I wish you could get it as an app!), and the parpadella with veal (beautifully made pasta, decadentally tender veal, all in a wonderfully flavorful sauce that doesn't overpower at all, just compliments). For desserts I've had the Strawberries Napolean (sweet and delcious finish without being too heavy, local strawberries allowed to shine ) and the pot de creme (rich chocolated and perfectly smooth withouth being too sweet or too intense).

              I also have to pay my respects to the staff. They are all wonderfully friendly, helpful without being overly chatty, professional without being stuffy, and expertly trained. Water glasses stayed full, napkins refolded when you return from the restroom, and plates clearned never too early or too late. I am paticularly impressed how they walk the line between making you feel like you're having a fine dinning experience, but still make you feel comfortable and at ease, so you don't feel like you have to sit up extra straight in your chair or raise your pinky when you drink your water.

              If your in Metro West, this restaurant is a must. If your in the city, I'm not sure I'd drive 30 minutes plus to try it as again it is as good as anything in the city, but not so much better I'd make a pilgrmage just for them. However if you are in the city and making a trip out to Concord to see Walden Pond, or bike ride, or apple pick, etc.....it would be a shame to miss the chance to visit 80 Thoreau for dinner while you are out here.

              They are very busy, be warned, so call or use Open Table for reservations.

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              AKA Bistro
              145 Lincoln Rd, Lincoln, MA 01773

              5 Replies
              1. re: InmanSQ Girl

                inmangirlie, great detailed report; thanks so much!we'll go mid week to avoid the crowds, but so glad they are a big hit out there in the wealthy-people-food-wasteland. and let's all hope they last longer than predecessors in that spot. one detail question- the gnocchi>> airy feather-light choux style or tender firm?

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Great question with a possibly less than clear answer. They actually take their little gnocchi and sear the sides in a pan so that they are golden deep brown, so you get this great mix of fluffy, crunch, and slight chew in each bite. However this makes it hard to tell what the texture of the gnocchi was before it hit the saute pan :)

                  1. re: InmanSQ Girl

                    inmangirlie,
                    fluffy/crunchy/chewy? sounds just TERRibul .Looks like I'm going to be forced to order them, so I can answer the question myself :-} I may even have to order them a FEW times to make sure I get the preparation description down pat.

                2. re: InmanSQ Girl

                  Do they have a bar at which walk-ins might get a seat and a bite? If so, how did that look? Jammed as well?

                  1. re: digga

                    Yes, there's a bar area with seating and service from the full menu plus, also, service from a bar menu. Quite handy.

                    The bar area takes up about 20% of the floor area of the restaurant (see my post above) and includes not only seating at "the bar" but also some tables. Some tables are normal height and have seating with normal chairs and a bench and some tables are elevated and one would sit at bar stools. All very civilized.

                    I've been there when the bar area wasn't too full and been there when it was full up. As the bar area is first come first serve, it's up to your bar area seating karma as to how full it is when you show up.

                3. Glad to see the place has reopened in style.
                  Was a great restaurant in the past under Anna Sortun (Aigo Bistro) and Guida Ponte (Guida's Coast Cuisine).

                  1. We just ate there last night. Everyone should. It's a restaurant not to be missed.

                    The only res we could get was at 5:45, but we're middle aged surburbanites and don't care whether we eat at a "cool" hour, so we took it. Unfortunately, we got stuck in hideous traffic (coming up 27 from Sherborn) in Natick, Wayland, and Lincoln, so were 1/2 hour late. I called and begged them to hold our table, and they graciously said that traffic was bad everywhere and not to worry.

                    When we got there, we thought they'd make us wait, but nope, they took us right to a table near the kitchen opening, which I loved. The kitchen staff were calm, polite to one another, and never seemed frenzied or frazzled.

                    We're not liquor drinkers, but everyone had raved about the "tonic and gin" with the homemade tonic water, so we ordered that. Can I just say that I could probably drink one every single day this summer and not get tired of it? The tonic was slightly sweet, which really balanced out the gin nicely.

                    I had the gnocchi (everyone should, at least once.) It was a small portion, appropriate for an appetizer, but it was so delicious (tiny pillows that were chewy and light on thie inside, crisp on the outside) ,and the mushroom paste (forget what they called it, it was like duxelles) was divinely salty and savory, lots of good umami there. I was very tempted to order another portion, but was afraid I wouldn't have room for my spring onion tartlet. DH had the farm salad, which had a poached egg on top, perfectly done so that the yolk was still slightly runny, with a sherry vinaigrette. His app was delicious, but mine was sublime.

                    I had the spring onion tartlet; DH had the lamb and turnovers. The tartlet was really bright-tasting and came with an arugula salad, as well as roasted artichokes and mushrooms, which were almost as good as the tart itself. The lamb loin was roasted perfectly to medium rare as requested, with just a hint of fennel and came with turnovers also filled with lamb, apricots, and mint. Honestly, I'd have a hard time deciding which main was better.

                    We saw lots of people having the strawberrry napoleon for dessert, but when we saw there was a cheese platter on the menu, we had to order that. It was nicely balanced, but none of the cheeses was particularly memorable, except for the Berkshire Blue, which neither of us cared for.

                    So, for two G&Ts, two glasses of wine, two apps, two mains, a cheese platter, an espresso (excellent, from George Howell of Coffee Connection fame), and a glass of port, plus 21% tip, our bill came to a very reasonable $180.

                    Oh, and when we left at 8:15, the place was packed and hopping. It was also a bit noisy, better for a group of friends than an intimate dinner or marriage proposal.