I'm not one to usually post reviews, but after searching for a place to eat on my one night in town (see prev. post) several people recommended Asta. But I couldn't find out much. There's no PR machine at work here. Nary even a thread on CH. So here I am.
I have to start by saying that I have some control issues, and barely let my husband order what he wants without chirping in. I need to know what's happening, what to expect and then...I'm going to critique it. And here, I couldn't do that. My choices- how much do I want to eat (3, 5, or 8 courses) and do I want wine with that. I didn't even get to keep the menu. When I asked about flatware, I was told " Chef will give it to you when you're ready for it" Clearly, I was not ready. From the moment we walked in and were given a lovely little glass of bubbles (with The Clash!!!! playing in the background), to the final course, I was not in the driver's seat and that was good. Fantastic. Sublime.
I loved how the kitchen was more than just an open-concept. The kitchen participated in my meal actively. Not something you see. The sommelier was engaging, knowledgeable, charming, and had some amazing pairings.
Now the food. I won't describe each dish. In a way, it's not the point. I will say that I found everything to be thought-provoking, well- thought out, beautifully executed and some times very polarizing. (I will say that the house 'signature dish' is just this. I loved it. Husband took a pass) I found the foie gras to be 'outside the box' and man, did it work. The sweetbreads? Beautiful. Again prepared, with a different angle. My striped bass- it's like I won a lottery ticket. And the cereal for dessert? It made me laugh and slurp every drop.
As we were about to begin our meal, the couple next to us was finishing up, and the lady offered some general (and very specific) criticism to the owner. As someone who does this often (although usually just to myself or my dining partner), by the end of the meal I realized that that kind of "control", is something best left at the door here. Just eat and drink what they give you, use the forks when they're there, and enjoy.
It was amazing.
thanks for your review. since I have similar control issues (unless I know the kitchen, in which case I am fine with letting go) this is very useful to me!
Thx so much for taking the time,k. Very few high end places get CH talk so this is very very helpful.
btw- Control issues>> who, me?
Just because I carry my own pepper grinder and sweetener(at least)? :-}
My husband took me there for my birthday this past Tuesday, and wow, we both agreed that it was nearly too cool for Boston and felt transported to somewhere much more cosmopolitan. The transformation from the old Despina's space was really well-executed, service was so friendly and fun and as the OP mentions the food was really thought-provoking and delicious. I would go back in a heartbeat.
They also seem to have the right dispositions for an open kitchen, and it is great how the chefs interact by running food. It always makes me laugh when chefs with bad tempers decide to put an open kitchen in their restaurant.