Review of 80 Thoreau in Concord
So my husband and I finally got to check out 80 Thoreau in Concord the other night. I was hoping it would be a positive experience given the lack of promising eats near the 495 belt where we live.
The space is nice and open, but the stairs and building did make me feel like I was going to my accountant’s office to get my taxes done. Once in, however, I felt like I was in any nice restaurant in Boston or Cambridge. The previous posters had noted the noise level, it was somewhat high, but there were several tables that were if better spots for noise dampening. We were seated in the second room with the counter to the kitchen next to the window and fire door. Tt was no problem to hold a conversation. If you are worred about the noise I would ask the that room with a seat along one of the walls. We went on a Tuesday and the place was full when we arrived at 7 pm, including the bar. Service was professional without being cloying. When we made it clear we wanted a slow paced dinner because no way did we want to get home before the kids were in bed. They paced the meal perfectly.
OK, this was a huge plus. Husband had the gin and tonics with the homemade tonic (recommend by a chowhound) which was nothing short of a revelation. I wish I could say I tried it, but I couldn’t pull myself away from the gin/pomegranate/cucumber drink I had. The had a nice wine list, but both of use were so in loved with our cocktails we stuck with them, perfect for a warm summer night.
I had the Corn and Tomato Pre Fix that they currently have, and my husband ordered off the menu. So here’s the run down.
Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Salad with corn fritter. It was a strait forward salad none of the ingredients overpowering the others. My only complaint larger corn fritter would have been nice to share. The crisp gnocci my husband had was not what I expected. They were very small, perfectly crisp, and quite tasty. I’m used to judging gnocci as the lighter the better, but these sort of fall into a different category, worth trying.
I had the Griddled Johnnycake with Lobster. The griddle cakes were perfect, the corn flavor really came through. The lobster was “meh”, but I almost always consider lobster that way.
Mine: Pan roast local Hake with cherry tomatoes, squid and corn puree. The fish was done perfectly and the flavors melded nicely. I always cringe when tomatoes are dumped on fish, because I find that it almost always overpowers it, but there was sparing use of very fresh tomatoes so it worked fine. Portion was good, just enough. I was a little concerned since the first two courses were very spare in size that the entrée might be too small, but my fears were unfounded. My husband: Salmon with potato salad with bacon. I don’t know where they get their bacon, but those little bits were perfectly done and packed a lot of flavor into very little bacon. It wouldn’t necessarily call it a salad so much as nice red potatoes with bacon. The salmon was well cooked and the flavor really came through.
Warm Corn Cake with blueberries, ice cream and caramel corn. The corn cake managed to do that holey grail of dessert thing: be light and rich at the same time, two thumbs up. Blueberries were not messed with too much, which I appreciate. I, however, was disappointed in the caramel corn. It was too sweet to my tastes and really added nothing to the plate. I would have preferred a crisp cookie if they really needed to add something.
My husband bypassed the chocolate dessert and went for the cheese tray, which was OK and had three local cheeses. Although there was nothing wrong with the cheeses I would have appreciated if they threw one cheese into the mix that was imported and harder to come by. (I apologize, but I really can’t remember their names or types, which probably tells you something.
Overall we will definitely go again. I’d like to go and sit at the bar some day, there apparently have a bar menu. Total bill was $150 before tip, and more than 1/3 was all those cocktails. My meal was $39, which was a great price point.
We recently had a Restaurant week meal at 80 Thoreau. I was impressed by the menu (both the Hake with squid and tomatoes, and corn cake with blueberries mentioned above were on their menu. My wife had the spicy zucchini soup (excellent AND actually spicy - something we find misnamed on many menus), the pork loin with cornbread panzanella with pork belly, and the corn cake w/blueberries. I had a first course of Brandade fritters (not cod per the waitress but "white fish"), the above mentioned Hake (excellent), and I also had the corn pudding/cake. The mentioned Gin and Tonic was amazing (I had a sip of the wife's as I'm generally not a fan, but theirs was fantastic). I had a rum based drink (excellent), and we had $7 glasses of Austrian white with our meals. I would definitely go back on a non-RW to try their regular menu.