asta : boston, a new gem
I'm surprised to see no one has posted about Asta yet, so figured I'd get things rolling. I ate at Asta its opening weekend and was impressed all around. The atmosphere is casual and comfortable, the staff inviting (with nary a sign of just-opened jitters), the open kitchen plan terrific (at the bar/counter seats you can watch the calm choreography among the kitchen staff and front of house, all sharing in the effort bringing food to table), and the food fantastic.
We tried the 8 courses, a splurge well worth it for the (generous) amount of food but most of all for the chef's creativity, care and confidence with preparing and serving excellent food. A number of the dishes are memorable for their playful and astute combinations of texture, color and flavor. I hesitate to say too much about the specifics–part of the delight is discovering these details as dishes are placed before you (and I don't know how often the menu will rotate); as you take a bite some individual elements reveal themselves as different from what your eyes expected, and the taste buds and the brain experience the concept and the taste and feel of the food in tandem.
These surprises don't feel strange for strangeness' sake; rather juxtapositions and provocations are smart without compromising on sensual pleasures. My husband and I are looking forward to trying the 3 course. I should add the restaurant accepted my request for a pescatarian version of the offerings without batting an eyelash–indeed only 1 of the 8 courses needed to be swapped out to make it so. I imagine they could do just as well for vegetarians.
that's great to hear- really interested to hear how the 3 totally different menus concept holds as time goes. I don't doubt the possibility that the kitchen might have the talent/timing to execute, but i keep feeling like its a weird issue to have zero overlap:
on the one hand, if you get a 3 course menu, and know the 8 course menu has totally different dishes, i would be so worried that my menu was the 'cheaper' or 'inferior' one, or at least that it doesn't get as much attention.
on the other hand: if i order the more expensive menu, i *certainly* don't want to feel like the cheaper menu actually had the better dishes, or i'd feel cheated.
it might not even be about the actual dishes, but, especially after reviews come in, people will really (i think) need to feel like all three menus present equally compelling food, no better or worse, for this to work out.
As much as i do buy into the fact that we've come to overhype some signature dishes, it would certainly feel odd on either side (big or small menu) to feel like you wouldn't get a shot at the dishes everyone is talking about.
or, of course, maybe some menus will just go unordered and people will gravitate towards a cetain price.
either way, i wish it the best, look forward to trying, but am interested to see if that format sticks.
ps- i'm basing this off the reported first menu, the website does not have a current one. so if they've already gone to a format where menus share certain dishes, please do let me/us know!