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Apr 9, 2013 03:31 PM

Steel and Rye report

Finally got there with my husband and 11 yo last Sunday night and we are regretting not getting there earlier!

We had a busy day traipsing between various sporting events so I jumped on open table but they had nothing until 7:00. In the 10 minutes it took to get an answer from my husband that time was gone but 7:15 was open. We left the house early as we were coming from the south and never know what the Braintree split might be like and got there at 6:50. Being a neighborhood place they must keep a lot of tables for walk ins as we were seated immediately and there were plenty of open tables.

The space, as I had read, was really nice. Very open and modern. It’s looks like the patio will be wonderful when it opens though I imagine it could be very noisy at it’s a pretty busy road.

We are all starving so we order a couple things from the “snack menu”- raclette and today’s cheese plate. The raclette was served in piping hot small cast iron pan and, while a little oily to my liking, was very good. The cheese was the perfect consistency, the potatoes the right little bite sized, the bacon while not crisp was very flavorful and the pickles had the right sour crunch.

“Today’s cheese” was monk head served on a very flavorful bread but I have no idea what kind. I wish I had taken a photo only because the presentation was so pretty. It had been shaved and then formed to look like a small white carnation on each slice of bread. The cheese its self was strong smelling yet mild in flavor and the winter fruits jam added the right sweetness. There were three slices and our son was disappointed there wasn’t more.

For appetizers we all split the lamb meatballs and the foi gras. Our son devoured most of the meatballs, we hardly even got a taste. I could have made a meal out them! The meatballs themselves were very mild in flavor but tender, the red sauce was seasoned with harissa and was a great foil for the meatballs. The whole thing was topped with a softly poached egg and sprinkled with pine nuts.

The foi gras was fine, rich and creamy, and served in a jelly glass with cranberries and brioche toast. I probably would have raved if I weren’t getting full- it was just too much with everything else we had ordered. My husband and son managed to polish it off just fine though!

At that point I was stuffed but we still had entrees coming.

My son, unlike him, ordered his entrée from the kid’s menu as he really wanted to try the homemade chips but didn’t want a burger. He loved the crispy chicken and I can attest the chips were worth every calorie. Wish they had offered a veggie and even my son said he wished for “something green”.

I ordered the polenta with a beef ragu, the smaller portion. It was creamy, rich and delicious. The polenta was very thick and the sauce even thicker. I could barely eat more than few bites having over done it earlier. It held up very well though and made a fabulous lunch. There was flavor note I couldn’t identify; almost bolognese-esque that added an extra richness.

My husband had the double cut pork chop that was pigginess on a plate. My guess is they get the pork locally as it had that deep pork flavor you don’t find in mass market pork. Topped with guanciale and served over braised cabbage with some strong mustard my husband was in heaven.

We wished it all down with some of their excellent cocktails- I had 2 snow birds which were made with vodka, lemon, st. germain, and grapefruit. My husband had the same as well as some kind of special rum drink but I can’t remember what was in that.

Check was very reasonable ($140ish) and the server Levy was great, attentive but not overly so.

Probably the only down side were there were a number of very loud, energetic kids all around us. The table next us had what looked like a six year old with them, he was sitting on the floor coloring but would randomly start banging on the floor or window, so much we could feel the vibrations. He was patently ignored by his parents. On the platformed seating area to the left where you walk in only had one table occupied. The parents sat calmly eating and enjoying their wine as their two toddler aged kids ran around in circles playing games and singing loudly.

Unruly kids aside I can’t remember the last time we had such a good meal (or the last time we ate so much!). This place is a winner and worth the 30 min. drive.

95 Eliot St
Milton, MA 02186

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  1. I like the place too. But my polenta and ragu was topped with coursely chopped meatballs in sauce. Disappointing. Most of the rest of our several experiences have been very good except for parking.

    2 Replies
    1. re: C. Hamster

      Parking did look tight if it had been a busy night. We got the first non-handicap spot in the lot, closest to the building but there was also plenty of street parking on the right hand side before you hit the place. Maybe Sunday's are quiet nights for them. I can imagine Friday and Saturday nights would be crazy. Do they valet?

      Interesting about your polenta as mine was definitely not chopped meatballs in texture but it was very thick.

      1. re: foodieX2

        I went there recently on a Thursday night and they had free valet parking.

        My meal was meh - I had a very good potato leek soup, the broccoli casserole which I'd read raves about in the Globe and in Boston Magazine and it was too rich, and the desserts were all deconstructed - like, a caramel cake had all of the components on the side. This method feels outdated to me - and our black rice pudding was horrible. Our waiter tried to argue with us about why we didn't like it - that it was the texture - but the taste was totally off. Anyway, the atmosphere is great, but it's nowhere near as good as Parson's Table. A shame.

    2. I just tried it tonight and really enjoyed it. I lived in Lower Mills for 7 years and I would have killed for a place like this when I was in the neighborhood. The space itself is pretty stunning - spacious but not too cavernous, with several distinct seating areas (as well as a private dining area that apparently can open up to add capacity to the main restaurant when needed).

      We started with two excellent cocktails - a Maritime Out for her (rhum agricole, fresh lime juice, sugar, bonal gentiane-quina) and a Blinker for me (whiskey, fresh grapefruit, house-made pomegranate grenadine) - mine looked pinker but tasted drier, hers was more sweet/sour but still nicely balanced.

      Nice anadama bread and butter on the table. We split a half dozen RI oysters - very cleanly shucked - and the special "snack" of salmon rillettes. This was slow-cooked salmon mixed with smoked salmon, "a lot of butter," olive oil, and served slightly chunky and sprinkled with some chili pepper and herbs. The waitress (who was excellent throughout) wasn't kidding about the butter - very rich but then they are rillettes. Delicious on the "homemade bagel chips" - not something I've ever imagined with rillettes but they made an excellent cracker.

      For mains she had the roasted chicken with spring vegetables and I had the "giuntatelli" with confit chicken, oyster mushrooms, pancetta, arugula pesto. Giuntatelli turn out to be a fresh pasta about the width of fettucine but with slightly ruffly edges. Very tasty, with good resilient texture. The confit chicken was excellent - very rich and moist. Her roast chicken was a juicy breast with very crisp skin. The vegetables alongside were chard, tiny potatoes, a poached tomato, artichoke, and some fiddleheads. I snagged a fiddlehead and it was fresh and green, especially with some of the garlic cream that came alongside.

      We managed to save room for dessert and tried the forbidden rice pudding and the chocolate-hazelnut dacquoise. We both really liked the rice pudding - which came with mango sorbet (whose tartness complemented the pudding although it was a little icy), vanishingly tiny diced mango, some guava puree, and a confounding drizzle of curry oil. For some reason neither of us could place the curry until the waitress identified it for us - it's odd but we both liked the way it complemented the mango flavor. Probably they should mention it on the menu (I see that sallyt hated the flavor) just so people know there will be a rather assertively non-dessert flavor in the mix, but I did enjoy it.

      I'm no expert on dacqoise, and this seemed more like a rich multi-layered chocolate dessert with a crunchy middle section, but that was fine by me. The candied lemon bits in the cake and the sliced candied lemon on top were delicious and a nice respite from the chocolate onslaught.

      Total was about 115 before tip - not cheap but we both felt the food, service, and overall experience justified the price. We had no problem parking in a space out front but it was a monday night - I can see how it would be tighter on weekends. I'd absolutely go back to try more of the menu.

      1. Had another amazing meal here last night. We made our reservations a few weeks ago and then our sitter flaked on Friday so I called to see if they could change our reservation from 4 people to 6. Considering it was a 7pm res on a Saturday night I wasn't hopeful but they were happy to accommodate us.

        The adults shared a bunch of "snacks". Duck crostini, monks head cheese and beet tartare. The beets stole the show, earthy, tart yet sweet served with seasoned pita toasts. I need to figure out how they made it. Duck was tender and smoky with some kind of fruit jam and the monks head cheese was gorgeous and as good as I remembered. We enjoyed these with some excellently crafted cocktails.

        For my dinner I chose two appetizer which was a mistake-too much food!! The first was a creamy asparagus soup topped with lightly poached egg. Possibly one of the best soups I have ever had. The second was the smoked chicken flat bread pizza. The pizza had vinegar onions, wonderful roasted tomatoes and ricotta. I barely ate two smal squares but it made a wonderful breakfast this morning. Enjoyed this with a nice Rose.

        My husband stuck with double cut pork chop which he said was even better than last time. One of our friends had the gnocchetti which were more pasta than gnocci. Tossed with veggies including fiddleheads she loved it. The other had halibut served with hominy and cactus. No discernible cactus and he thought the hominy was a little tough but it didn't stop him from eating every bite-the fish was delicately flavored and he really enjoyed it.

        The kids stuck to the kids menu as they both wanted the homemade chips. The grilled cheese was served on their homemade anadama bread. I would eat that!

        We barely had room dessert but order the forbidden rice pudding which was gorgeous to look at. I tried a bite and the flavor was unique, I swear I tasted either cumin or possibly garam masala. The table devoured it. My son had the affogato, who can resist chocolate pop rocks.

        Only negative was our server was very slow and indifferent. She was impatient when we had questions about some of the dishes, disappeared for long periods of time and was very defensive when we asked about the cactus in the halibut dish. She was very friendly to table the around us, laughing and joking. She clearly knew them so the place may be getting a case of local-itis. Nothing serious and our friends, who had never been before, raved.

        The patio was open an packed, nice option to eat outside. Valet service was nice as the parking lot was packed and there was no on street parking to be had.

        Definitely will be on our regular rotation. Nice change from our usual places.

        1. Finally made it over to Milton to try this place. As others have said, it's a lovely space. We're not used to eating in the quasi-suburbs, so that probably explained why we felt like we were the youngest people in the room by 20 years (we're 31 & 30). The mussels, gemelli, pork chop and strawberry dessert were all very good. We'll definitely be back, but that's probably the last time we sit in the dining room. The bar is probably more our speed.

          6 Replies
          1. re: mkfisher

            Wow, what night where you there? We have felt on the older side every time we go. Each time we went It was mostly young families in the dining room and the bar was full 30 somethings.

            1. re: foodieX2

              Saturday night. On the early side (6:30 - 8). Two tables with folks in their 70s. Lots of groups in their 50s or 60s. Just felt older. Even the families with kids felt older. Who knows. Maybe I'm off base on the normal crowd.

              1. re: mkfisher

                We have been on mostly on Sundays nights nights but a few Fridays so that mght be why I am seeing a younger crowd.

                My husband and I are really to get there on our own and sit at the bar. I love the "snacks" and could make a meal of those with a couple of cocktails!

            2. re: mkfisher

              I've seen a very broad mix of ages there, which is hardly surprising, since it's one of the best things to happen to restaurants in that neighborhood for a long time, and features a pretty versatile menu, with something for everyone.

              It struck me that nobody bothers to dress up here even on a weekend night, where I'd expect a comparable place in town to have some slightly dressier folks in the crowd.


              1. re: MC Slim JB

                I go every few weeks. Early on weeknights so as to get bar seats.

                Always a mixed bag of ages. A mixed bag of everything, really.

                The monks head cheese app rocks!

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  I have to say I much prefer the bar, too: the dining room, especially the step-down one to the left of the host stand, seems comparatively sleepy to me. But it's bar seats are tough to score after 6:30pm or 7pm most nights. Gotta hover and pounce. I love that cheese app, too.