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Dinner at Troquet

gini May 3, 2012 06:40 AM

Just wanted to post a recent experience we had at Troquet for the records - haven't seen a full report in a while.

I am not particularly knowledgeable about wine - I like to drink it, but I know practically nothing about it. What was great is that each glass is tagged so you can learn as you go. Or just play along.

Our server was incredible: at once knowledgeable, professional, yet not overly-stuffy.

New Zealand Langoustines with green papaya, champagne mango, & tamarind glaze with Wolf Pinot Gris - Normally the pairing would be with a dry Reisling, but I asked for something even less sweet if they could manage it. The pinot gris played well with this sweet & spicy dish. It had more kick than I expected and the langoustines were fried - both good surprises.

Braised Spanish Octopus with chorizo, fork-crushed potatoes, & espilette pepper broth with Ceretto Arneis - it's impressive how the octopus is tender, yet not falling apart at the seams the way it can when you braise it. This, along with the octopus at Trade and Prezza, are my top three favorite octopus dishes in Boston right now.

Fonduta Tortelini with 12-hour short rib, aromatic vegetables, & parmesan broth with Volver Tempranillo - it's possible the pasta was slightly tough, but the cheesy factor made up for it.

Roasted Jurgielewicz Duck, puy lentils, ginger bok choy, crispy aromatic vegetables, & Peking jus with Gainey Pinot Noir - a lovely little duo of duck, a leg over the bok choy and a breast over the lentils (I think).

Cheese course with Ascheri Barbera d'Alba - ah, the cheese cart. I am a sucker for a cheese cart.

Our table overlooked the Common, so we even had the opportunity for a view. All in all, Troquet is still one of my favorites in Boston.

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  1. g
    gourmaniac RE: gini May 3, 2012 06:46 AM

    Thanks for a great report. It sounds delicious. Is this their wine pairing prix fixe (cost?) or do they customize based on specials?

    2 Replies
    1. re: gourmaniac
      gini RE: gourmaniac May 3, 2012 06:59 AM

      We ordered 4 ounce pours with each of our dishes, so we controlled what we wanted to spend.

      1. re: gini
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        cambridgedoctpr RE: gini May 3, 2012 07:07 AM

        it is worth splurging a bit on the wine; the deals are the best in boston. and it is tough to find old , mature wine.

    2. MrsCheese RE: gini May 4, 2012 05:07 PM

      I'm glad you posted. We haven't been in years, but we're going in a few weeks. Looking forward to it! Our last meal there was spectacular, but we don't get out downtown by ourselves very often anymore.

      1. 9
        9lives RE: gini May 4, 2012 09:16 PM

        Gini, I'm always blown away at Troquet..food and wine, Nice to read your detailed review.

        1 Reply
        1. re: 9lives
          barleywino RE: 9lives May 5, 2012 07:45 AM

          a recent amuse at Troquet

           
        2. CocoDan RE: gini May 5, 2012 07:35 AM

          Thanks for the terrific report. Need to get back there soon. Wine is the way!
          Enjoy,
          CocoDan

          1. barleywino RE: gini May 5, 2012 07:53 AM

            the langoustines, and some lobster lasagnette

             
             
            2 Replies
            1. re: barleywino
              gini RE: barleywino May 7, 2012 07:36 AM

              Thank you for posting so many pictures! I always forget to snap any when I'm out.

              1. re: gini
                barleywino RE: gini May 9, 2012 04:54 PM

                ok, here's one more for you, a bit overexposed unfortunately (spring pea soup w/ morel flan)

                 
            2. opinionatedchef RE: gini May 6, 2012 01:07 AM

              thx so much for the detailed report. This menu certainly is more inventive than when i last checked; great to know!

              1. lipoff RE: gini May 7, 2012 08:31 PM

                I really like the food at Troquet a lot, but I find the menu is just too expensive for what it is.

                I don't drink wine, but I gather that their wine is list both excellent and very well priced, so I suspect Troquet is a much better value for people who do drink wine. I also realize that often the opposite is true at most restaurants --- the wine markup may have the effect of subsidizing the food. So if that's all true, I'm happy to give the oenophiles this one. ;) But I do want to explain why I don't go there very often, but your description of that duck and my memories of their soufflé are tempting me.

                1. bgavin RE: gini Jun 8, 2012 01:54 PM

                  Like many commenters...I haven't eaten here in years. Used to really enjoy it, but it sort of fell out of the rotation. We were considering it for next week, when my sister comes for a visit. This review was very helpful.
                  What did throw me for a loop was the Yelp quotes on their online menu.
                  We're also considering Erbaluce.

                  1. MrsCheese RE: gini Jun 8, 2012 08:08 PM

                    We went here for our anniversary and it was just as good as we remembered. Started with drinks downstairs. Hubs had a Manhattan that was met with approval and I had a cocktail with gin and chartreuse that was tasty. We had the five course tasting menu. Amuse as usual was more substantial than is typical. Hamachi tartare in a little taco shell. We had the langoustines, short rib tortellini, and duck that Gini mentioned and all were yummy. Also had a scallop dish that was really good but super rich. Dessert was forgettable; cheese plate would have been a better choice. Gave them a bigger budget for wine pairing and we were much happier than last time we did a pairing. Service was awkward but eager. We would be happy to go back anytime. I think this place is severely underrated.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MrsCheese
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                      mpd RE: MrsCheese Jun 23, 2012 07:45 AM

                      We also went for our anniversary. Our first time - we relied on Chowhound posts for some choices. Opted for the foie gras and oysters for a first. Both wonderful. Second course was suckling pig and halibut - both delicious and beautiful presentation. Dessert of chocolate cherry tart was perfect ending - along with a nice port. Definitely one of the best places in town. Must agree that it is pricey but the service, ambience and food are tops.

                    2. s
                      Salognese RE: gini Jun 25, 2012 10:36 PM

                      Always one of my favorite restaurants in Boston. The food is deceptively simple; in that there are often clean, clear, precise flavors, which are, of course, the most difficult ones to muster. Because of this, I think that the mastery of the chef is often under estimated. The owner always has interesting and unique wines in offer. A real gem of a restaurant for the Boston culinary crown.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Salognese
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                        D_Derringer RE: Salognese Jun 27, 2012 12:56 PM

                        In town for the weekend and would love to stop by for a glass or flight, but not ready to drop the change for a full meal. Do they have a bar area? TIA!

                        1. re: D_Derringer
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                          Crazy Egg RE: D_Derringer Jun 27, 2012 04:37 PM

                          They have a formal dining room upstairs, but I believe there is a cosy bar area downstairs (street level).

                          1. re: Crazy Egg
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                            D_Derringer RE: Crazy Egg Jun 27, 2012 08:04 PM

                            Hope so. Thanks!

                            1. re: D_Derringer
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                              cambridgedoctpr RE: D_Derringer Jun 29, 2012 03:29 PM

                              no fear; there is a bar, and you can order off the wine list.

                              1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                d
                                drtechno RE: cambridgedoctpr Jun 29, 2012 03:51 PM

                                Exactly. And you don't have to deal with some clown serving you.

                      2. d
                        drtechno RE: gini Jun 28, 2012 12:51 PM

                        I know everyone's experience differs but Troque is probably the worst mid to high end restaurant in Boston. I've been there twice. The food we ate was mediocre at best. The server we had was so horrible that I have yet to see such awful service at a place of this reputed caliber. Every time he opened his mouth I wanted to beg him to close it again. It was so bad, I can vividly still remember it.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: drtechno
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                          Klunco RE: drtechno Jun 28, 2012 01:09 PM

                          You're not alone, I posted about two years ago after a disappointing experience but was generous in my review because it was our first time there. The wine list is nice and the fire-sales they have annually a good deal for a restaurant but now that there are more restaurants offering interesting lists in Boston. The big advantage is the 2 and 4 ounce pours that they offer (which is fun for a coursed meal).

                          I found the quality/execution lacking for the price, the service a mix between awkward (our waiter) and snobby (something I have almost never encountered at a restaurant, especially in this price range), and we found the food mediocre, boring, and overpriced. It struck me as a restaurant that wanted to believe it was better than it was and was trying to be great, but couldn't back it up with the execution either in food or service. I suppose their location helps.

                          Because others have expressed positive opinions and we only went once (at this price point, it's just not worth the risk for us considering there are consistently wonderful restaurants at this price point) I haven't posted in every Troquet thread about how disappointed we were. Nevertheless, at this price point, I cringe when I see this recommended to visitors considering you could go almost anywhere else in the city and I certainly wouldn't say Troquet is anywhere near the best Boston has to offer.

                          1. re: Klunco
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                            cambridgedoctpr RE: Klunco Jun 29, 2012 03:30 PM

                            if you want great wine with a little food to match it; then Troquet is your place. Bistro Midi does not have anywhere near the quality list of Troquet.

                            If food is your main concern, then i would look elsewhere.

                            I have been there a number of times and though the service was fine though perhaps my standards are low. Any good restaurant always seems to have good service to me.

                        2. d
                          D_Derringer RE: gini Jun 28, 2012 06:56 PM

                          Thanks Klunco and drtechno for your candid feedback. Just might grab that glass of wine down the street at Bistro du Midi instead.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: D_Derringer
                            k
                            KevinJF RE: D_Derringer Jun 28, 2012 09:26 PM

                            Do not be scared away by the two bad reviews based upon three visits, some of which were two years ago. I have greatly enjoyed my three visits to Troquet within the last twelve months.

                            People's opinions of Troquet are greatly influenced by their relationship with wine. It is an oenophile's dream. The real deals are available by the bottle, not by the glass. The food and service have always been great when I went.

                            1. re: KevinJF
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                              drtechno RE: KevinJF Jun 29, 2012 06:09 AM

                              True, but on the other hand, know that bad reviews are out there. And sadly, I am one of those people that usually doesn't have anything bad to say. In addition, for my two visits to be consistently terrible says something.

                              "People's opinion of Troquet are greatly influenced by their relationship with wine." No. People's opinion, or at least mine, is influenced by such horrendous service that I couldn't enjoy my wine or meal. And yes, I consider myself a wine aficionado.

                              I agree with Klunco, that in addition to the "actively horrendous" service I experienced, the food was lacking in quality/execution. The service Klunco describes is spot on in one visit and far worse in my second visit. In fact, I whole-heartedly agree with Klunco's entire post since it's a very accurate description.

                              I am sure many people had a very nice experience. For me, it's not worth wasting my money or time there when there are better places in town.

                              1. re: drtechno
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                                QCumber RE: drtechno Jun 29, 2012 11:01 AM

                                I can't find your earlier review - could you say what you mean by horrible service? Klunco says awkward and snobby, which doesn't quite equate to that. I mean, one person's snobby can be another's 'elegant', and awkward might mean something quite harmless. And two years is plenty of time for a careful place to have fixed personnel issues. I ask only because I have never been there before and am considering taking an out-of-town visitor there in a few weeks.

                                Q

                                1. re: QCumber
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                                  drtechno RE: QCumber Jun 29, 2012 11:28 AM

                                  One of my experiences was aloof and snobby, not friendly at all, dismissive and non-attentive. But I can deal with that. The other experience, like I said, just had me steaming around the collar. Basically, the guy would not shut up from the time we opened the menu to the time we paid the check. We commented upon something, he then responded. We said it was fine. But then he wouldn't drop it. He would keep coming back to the table, it seemed every 5 minutes, and kept bringing it up. Then he had the chef or owner? come by and repeat the same damn thing. After the 6th time, I was ready to scream 'enough already, move on for crying out loud'. Maybe the guy had obsessive compulsive disorder, but the amount of times he interrupted us was out of control. Then he made some very obvious statements, as if I hadn't thought of that yet. I swear to God I should have just offered him a seat at the table with us. That way he could save himself the walk and just continuously interrupt us, instead of giving us the hope of being able to finish a single sentence to each other. Just typing this makes me angry. Shut. Up. Already.

                                  In addition, as Klunco stated, the food is not up to par with the price or where you expect it to be for this place. Again, there are many other places in this price category that are better.

                                  1. re: QCumber
                                    k
                                    Klunco RE: QCumber Jun 29, 2012 11:34 AM

                                    Two years is a long time and absolutely things could be different. As far as service, awkward was absolutely harmless but proper training should be completed at this price point.

                                    As far as one person's snobby being another's elegant, I absolutely agree and I hate the words "snobby," "pretentious," or "precious" being used in reviews but there was no other way to describe it. I absolutely adore formal restaurants, I love formal service, I have no qualms dressing up for meals. I've had exceptional formal meals at places like Per Se, Le Bernadin, Michael Mina, Gary Danko, Le Cinq, L'Arpege, L'Espalier, etc. and never felt a hint of snobbery. I live for these places and well the complete opposite (small, dirt, cheap delicious food.) These places are occasionally named by some as "stuffy" or even "snobby." Troquet was not stuffy or too formal, it was simply snobby.

                                    Snobbery and elegant/formal can be mutually exclusive though, case in point places like Brooklyn Fare or Momofuku restaurants. In fact, I've never experienced anything but good service at Ssam, Ko, and the noodle bar, but these places are often criticized for having "hipster snobby" service. More close to home, Craigie has gotten this criticism, but I've only had friendly service. The only other places I've had "snobby" service are a Mccormick and Schmicks in San Fran, where had I not been a guest I would've gotten up and left, and more recently at "Backbar" in Somerville, where when we arrived early for our reservation to a 3/4 empty room, and were told that they couldn't seat us and that we weren't allowed to stand and wait so we had to leave. They then followed up with a phone call after we left saying that they were too busy to seat us at our reservation time and we would have to come 30 minutes later. Part of being in the service industry is helping people have a great time by being knowledgeable, friendly, welcoming, and doing your job well. Snobbery has no place in any establishment and is counter-productive to business.

                                    All that said, there have been positive reports of Troquet recently and with any restaurant there are always going to be people on both sides of the fence. This is just my opinion of our experience. If the menu looks good to you go for it and report back!

                                  2. re: drtechno
                                    Alcachofa RE: drtechno Jul 2, 2012 09:46 AM

                                    There are bad reviews for every restaurant. You can find them for Per Se if you want. Kevin's advice of not being afraid of a couple bad reviews is sound. Does that guarantee that they won't have a bad experience? No, but there is no guarantee for that anywhere. Human beings prepare the food and serve you, not robots. Occasionally, there will be hiccups.

                                    I'm also in agreement with Gini, that Troquet is not just a wine bar with some food, but the food stands out on its own.

                                  3. re: KevinJF
                                    k
                                    Klunco RE: KevinJF Jun 29, 2012 07:37 AM

                                    It sounds like we're really in agreement here. If food and service are secondary to wine and you have lots of cash to drop on nice bottles you might love it. I'm not sure if a great recommendation for a restaurant includes the caveat that if it wasn't for the wine, the restaurant isn't that great, which what many of the reviews add up to. It reminded me of a steak house: the food is outrageously expensive for what you are getting and mostly mediocre, the service amateur, and the wine list enormous with tons of famous bottles. The "best" wine list is as loaded a term as the "best" restaurant. I am definitely a wine lover, but because I don't regularly drop hundreds on bottles at restaurants, a good wine list to me is one that offers interesting and often esoteric wines that I wouldn't normally encounter, but to others a well aged list of famous producers is the "best." Obviously your financial situation plays into this as well. I'd rather my money go towards exceptional food and very good wine, than world class wine with overpriced food. But hey, every time we have a business dinner at a steakhouse I'm reminded that these restaurants are absolutely killing it. I was at Grille 23 a couple weeks ago on a Tuesday and it was packed to the gills. Wine list was deep and had some well aged bottles (although they were "out" of a few of my selections). There's a reason El Bulli never made a profit

                                    Clearly the wine list on the website is not what is making them "known" as a wine restaurant. I know KevinJF is friends with the owner and has offered up a copy of the wine list in the past. Could you post that Kevin? That may help the OP and might give some of us more incentive to give it another shot.

                                    To D_Derringer, you could always sit at the bar and enjoy the wine and a snack and form your own opinion. Either way, report back if you do go so we can keep this dialogue going.

                                    1. re: Klunco
                                      k
                                      KevinJF RE: Klunco Jun 29, 2012 09:13 AM

                                      I am not friends with the owner. I am just a customer who has received excellent and personal service from the owner. I called Troquet and asked for the bottle list. I was told to email the owner. Ever since I email the owner before I go and he sends me the updated bottle list.

                                      With regard to the wine list, the prices by the bottle are certainly the best in the city, many below retail (the summer clear out is even better). On the subject of wine lists, I was just at Eastern Standard, which also has a great wine list with most of the bottles at a lower price point than Troquet.

                                      If anyone wants the wine list from a few months ago, just email me directly at flemingkevin@hotmail.com.

                                      1. re: KevinJF
                                        k
                                        Klunco RE: KevinJF Jun 29, 2012 09:42 AM

                                        100% agree as far as Eastern Standard's list. I think their cocktails overshadow it which is why it's rarely talked about, but it's wonderfully diverse and well priced. There's a reason we often end up at Eastern Standard: good wine/cocktails, atmosphere, great service, well priced food. I've also enjoyed Island Creek's next door as well as I mentioned in another thread. Whoever is putting these together is doing a great job. Wines from Jura, selection of Cru Beaujolais, natural wines, great German selection, and even having carafe's of table wine shows they are looking at wine from many angles.

                                        Another interesting list although it's hard to call it a list since it's something like 8 bottles is the wine at TW Food in Cambridge. It's extremely curated which will turn some people off, but all of the wines we've tried there have been unique and interesting. I'll shoot you an email for the wine list. Thanks Kevin!

                                        1. re: Klunco
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                                          D_Derringer RE: Klunco Jul 12, 2012 01:28 PM

                                          Didn't make it to Troquet, sorry to say. Thanks for all the input. We'll make it next trip.

                                          On a side note, had some excellent sushi, with a lovely little Italian Pinot Bianco, at Douzo.

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