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Ribelle is open in Brookline

Had dinner tonight at Ribelle, the first night they are officially open. Everything was delicious, service was good, especially for the first night.
Atmosphere and menu are quite different from Strip-T's, but a worthy alternative. The men has a more Mediterranean bent, with several pastas.

There is a full and lively bar, a fairly extensive list of wines by the bottle, Wines by the glass are listed without names, such as "white #1, white #2." I found this a little precious and annoying. I ordered a white described as "dry as f**k". It turned out to be a dry Riesling.

DC and I split an appetizer of cherry tomatoes with stracciatelle cheese and figs, served with a vinaigrette. Very tasty, light, and summery. I could definitely see this at Strip T's.

DC had pappardelle with Bolognese, kale, and pork skin. I only tasted the pork skin and kale. Both were tasty. Pasta is made in-house.

For my main, I had swordfish with chanterelles, lard, and leeks. Very well done. All ingredients were fresh and worked well together. Fish tasted very fresh and was perfectly cooked.

Drip coffee and cappuccino to finish, no dessert. Both were fine.

So I realize that this sounds like less than a rave review. I would definitely go back, but I was somewhat disappointed by the limited range of the menu and the loudness of the room. This is an alternative to Strip T's, but not a substitute. Looking forward to hearing what others think.

The room is much bigger and the bathrooms is comfortable. The room is also quite loud. Set up is a little like Momofoku Ssam: a long bar/counter. Long table with multiple parties, a few deuces and fourtops.

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  1. But is using the rest room an adventure, an Iron Throne-like experience? Can you scan the prep kitchen on the way to answering the call of nature to see what kind of exotic spices, sauces, and assorted fermented umami-bombs go into their cooking? Inquiring minds, etc.

    I have heard that the opening week menu is limited on purpose and that it will expand as they get their feet under them.


    1. This is what I need to know: can you see this kind of thing at Ribelle? I hope this kind of transparency doesn't get lost in translation from Strip-T's to here.


      1 Reply
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        If you sit at the first few seats on the bar, you're right next to the kitchen and can see everything happening at once, an opportunity one doesn't have at Strip T's. A similar experience to watching the Craigie on Main or Asta kitchens from their dining bars, with the difference of having a bartender, not a cook, bringing you your plates.

      2. In answer to Slim, there is nothing adventurous about the restroom or the trip there. I think there is an open kitchen area (I was not on that side of the room) but not one where you will see anything like the posted photos. .

        2 Replies
        1. re: brooklinehound

          That's disappointing. How hard would it have been for them to put a single bathroom in the basement that diners have to navigate a maze to get to, then use a toilet perched atop a precarious little flight of stairs? Sounds like they cheaped out on the buildout.


          1. re: MC Slim JB

            mc, when you have a yen and you're in the Malden environs, be sure to check out the Biryani Park facilities.

        2. Thanks for the write up. We live around the corner and were planning on waiting a few weeks before trying, but it's great to read early reviews.

          What's the pricing of the pastas/entrees? Also, what's the pricing of the btg wines? Also, in terms of the wines, do they really not tell you which wine you are drinking unless you ask? That would just annoy the hell out of me.

          The first thing that struck me on the buildout, was how much the sign looks like Momofuku milk bar's sign. But then again, when we went to Food by North in Providence, I think I remember them having a similar scripted red lit sign. Not sure if this is the David Chang sign of allegiance or just influence, but it is interesting.

          What I'm most curious about with Ribelle is if the restaurant will show Chef Maslow's maturity or immaturity. We've enjoyed Strip-T's evolution over the past two years and I like the food, but one of my biggest criticisms is that the restaurant favors creativity over editing/execution. I love creativity and have had some very exciting food at Strip-T's, but at the same time, we've also had our share of bad flavors, dishes that weren't that well thought out, or executed less than perfectly. It's not the bizarre flavor combinations of Pierre Gagnaire, where love it or hate it you can tell the combination is extremely thought out as are the elements supporting it, it's more a little sloppy. All that is to say, I'm curious if Ribelle's food will be slightly more polished than Strip-T's or if they will try be even more experimental now that Chef Maslow has a place that is 100% his from the ground up.

          21 Replies
          1. re: Klunco

            In the early going, apps are $9-17, pastas $16-22, mains $27-28, desserts $7-10, BTG wines $9-18.

            I think the idea of going with descriptions only for BTG wines is a genius idea, one I would like to see widely copied, though it probably only works for very short BTG lists like Ribelle's. They have a great sommelier, and I'll guess she has put together some atypical wines that people wouldn't otherwise try because they tend to fall back on familiar varietals and regions.

            Do you really need to know where it's from if the list gives you a few vivid descriptors of it? There's only one sparkler, one rosé, three whites and three reds, each in a distinctive style. I expect a lot of people will actually find this approach more helpful, especially given the relative unfamiliarity of the wines offered BTG, once they get past the novelty of the idea.


            1. re: MC Slim JB

              As a wine-lover and someone who also loves trying off the wall wines, yes, I would always like to know the producer, the region, the year, and the varietal of any wine I am going to pay money for at a restaurant unless it's a carafe jug wine, which would be priced accordingly. In this "black-box" of wine menus, what determines price? How do we know what the wine mark-up is if we don't know what wine we're drinking? How do we even know what to expect?

              My problem with only having descriptors is that different palates interpret different wine flavors differently. This is why wine scores are useless; I can respect Robert Parker or Doug Frost for their knowledge of wine, but when it comes to the flavors that one experiences when drinking, we could all experience different things. Probably the easiest example is a simple German dry Riesling from the Mosel. A sommelier would probably describe it as dry with great acidity (ie. the acidity balances out the natural sweetness), but some customers would taste a perceived sweetness and find the wine sweet, regardless of if there was plenty of acidity to balance that sweetness out. A dry Riesling is different than a the dryness of a Chablis. Dryness means different things to different people. Tannins, acidity, fruit, levels of brett, etc. are all perceived differently by different people.

              Further imo, it does a disservice to those customers who don't know a lot about wine; sure they may try something new and like it, but unless they go out of their way to ask what they drank what will they have learned about wine? How will they be able to find wine like that again? A single sommelier cannot be at every table all the time and people may not want to flag them down just to ask what they drank.

              While I can sort of see the idea that people might be tricked into trying a varietal they wouldn't have ordered otherwise because they are too afraid of the unknown, this rubs me the wrong way. It treats customers as afraid idiots who need to be tricked into having "taste", when perhaps a customer just wants something familiar or comforting. My issue is if you have a talented sommelier and someone wants to put themselves in their hands to select a glass or bottle for them, they can, even if the specific wines are listed on the menu, but if someone just wants to select a wine they are familiar with and/or don't want to talk with the sommelier, they are now forced to wait for that opportunity or spend $9-$18 throwing darts at the wines offered.

              It's the same reason we have menus: so people can order what they want and know what they are getting. If someone wants to be surprised or introduced to something new they can choose do a tasting menu or to go to a restaurant with no-choices. I remember going to Eleven Madison when they had the grid-menu; it worked effectively as a middle ground between these two extremes. That said, if you picked beef you knew you were getting beef, if a patron picks "dry-Riesling" who's to say whose dry we are talking about.

              1. re: Klunco

                At the bar at least, the bartender brought over the bottle and offered a taste to make sure we enjoyed what we ordered. I liked the wine desciprtions on the menu.

                1. re: Klunco

                  klunco, i'm def on your bus. i'm guessing that this is an 'opening experiment' that will be tweaked as customers respond to it. Prob. the passionate energetic sommelier said "i've always wanted to do a menu where......" Maybe they'll get printed up a few regular wine menus- as a solution for those requesting the regular info. As for us ( we usually only get reds BTG) we always ask for a tiny taste of those that appeal ,so we can choose from those. IME, it's just too hard to find 2 wine drinkers who speak the same language.(Control? did i hear somebody say something about Control? :)

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    I guess I just don't get why one would be so against an innovative/creative food/dining experience before trying it... Isn't that why we're all here. To try new things and challenge our own comforts? And how can we hate on it until we try it, I'm intrigued.

                    1. re: freshsqueezedju

                      But how can I challenge myself and try a "new" wine if I'm not allowed to see what I know I've had before and what I haven't?

                      I love the idea of having unique varietals offered, I just don't get the shame of showing their names.

                      I just think Terroir challenged people in a better way by offering a boatload of Rieslings by the glass. Closer to home, Belly wine bar kicked off their list with ten different Beaujolais. Both were a great way to introduce people to new varietals without hiding them.

                    2. re: freshsqueezedju

                      I'm game to let loose, especially on wine, but not at $18 a glass. If I'm paying in the teens for a glass of wine, I want to know what I'm drinking.

                      As I mentioned above, this isn't jug wine. I have long lamented the non-existence of a cheap glass of "wine" at restaurants like in Europe. How about offering a $3 glass of Carlo Rossi, two buck chuck, or boxed wine labeled "red wine" or "white wine." Now that would be innovative and ballsy.

                      Innovative would also be writing the food menu as this wine menu. Why tell people what they're eating?
                      Have the menu offer:

                      Pasta #1: Flavors of a summer meadow.

                      Pasta #2: Think of the sky.

                      Now that would be innovative! I don't see them doing that though. The thing is, after a certain price point be it for wine or food, I want to know I'm going to like what I'm paying for, either because I've chosen it, or because a chef is so talented, thoughtful, and confident that I am willing to put myself in their hands knowing that whatever they put in front of me I will like.

                      1. re: Klunco

                        <Pasta #2: Think of the sky.>

                        thank you for my first giggle of the day

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          I've had this same debate with Jackson Cannon of Eastern Standard as well. I mean "Put on your boat shoes" is a fun description for a cocktail, but when you're with a group of six people and each person has to ask what ingredients are in multiple cocktails, it gets tedious.

                        2. re: Klunco

                          Except that most of the BTG wine descriptions aren't quite so impressionistic. It's pretty easy even for a novice wine drinker to get a good idea, if they want a glass of red, of why they might choose Red #1 vs. #2 or #3, for instance. I don't think the gap you're suggesting between individual sensibilities is so wide as to steer someone wildly off course.

                          And as I said, I think some crisp descriptions are actually going to be more helpful to most drinkers than vintage, region, winery and/or varietals, particularly with a sommelier who is deliberately looking for obscure wines and wines that flout expectations, e.g., who would expect an Australian Riesling to be any good, or far drier than the American stereotype of the grape?

                          If you're a really advanced wine drinker, maybe your knowledge is encyclopedic enough that this approach is a big subtraction from your ordering capabilities. I expect the opposite will be true for most Ribelle patrons.


                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            Maybe this is what I'm missing though: why does it have to be either/or?

                            I'm not against the descriptions as long as the wine is named underneath, that way everyone can select based on which method appeals to them. Having both is helpful so I can select a wine I've never had and then be able to look at the menu and know what it is so I can find it in the future or investigate the region or winery.

                            I'm not convinced that the typical patron at a restaurant like Ribelle is going to be so overwhelmed with the concept of multiple types of red or white wine, that they shouldn't be allowed to see the varietal info. It just strikes me personally as less innovative than gimmicky.

                            Like him or hate him, Gary Vaynerchuck did a lot to innovate in the world of wine tasting notes. Cute-sey descriptions are more engaging for a portion of the market, no doubt, but why cut out another group (those of us who like to select based on region/winery/year/varietal) who wants to select based facts rather than opinion?

                            And again, a lot of this comes down to price. For under $10 I could play along, but above that for me and the game is just too rich for my blood.

                            1. re: Klunco

                              As I stated above when we sat at the bar they brought the bottle over to us. I'm assuming that the servers would also know the names of the winery, vintage, etc of the wines that they are pouring. So what's the problem? If there is an ingredient/word on a menu that I'm unfamiliar with I ask my server.

                              1. re: mats77

                                Sorry, meant to have this reply to you:

                                "I've had this same debate with Jackson Cannon of Eastern Standard as well. I mean "Put on your boat shoes" is a fun description for a cocktail, but when you're with a group of six people and each person has to ask what ingredients are in multiple cocktails, it gets tedious."

                          2. re: Klunco

                            I did spit-take of my coffee with the $18 a glass price tag...You BET I wannah know whats gonnah be in that glass!

                          3. re: Klunco

                            I've been going back on forth on this wine thing.

                            On the one hand, I know next to nothing about wine and would find the descriptions quite helpful.

                            On the other hand, I do know a fair bit about beer. If I were forced to order beer by taste/color/flavor I'd be a little annoyed. There might be some combination of those things that I'm not thinking about, but because I know I like the brewery, I'll give it a try anyways.

                            1. re: mkfisher

                              The beer analogy is a good one because I think wine is getting in the way here. If the beer list were written like this, I think there would be a lot more objections from people.

                              Unfortunately, in America we over-fetishize wine which means that in most peoples eyes there are only two types of wine drinkers: idiots who can only tell you they like red or white wine, and wine snobs. God forbid anyone shows any interest in wine or knows anything about it, then they must be a snob. There's no middle ground.

                              Not every glass of wine has to be life changing, just like not every beer does. There's a time and a place for Carlo Rossi just like for DRC, but that said, as wine drinkers we don't get the "cheapest macro lager for $3" option when we go out. In Boston, there is no $3 glass of wine. The cheapest glass of wine is usually $8-9 and often even higher these days. If a beer drinker were paying $15 or $18 for a beer, I can promise you most people would want to know the brewery or style of beer.

                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                  Nope. I'm assuming they offer a $3 glass of wine? If they do, awesome, more places should be like them.

                                  They are clearly the exception to the rule though. Just compare the price of the cheapest wine to the cheapest beer at most places though and you'll see what I'm getting at. Wine drinkers get gouged at most places and if Galleria Umberto can offer a $3 glass then they are just further proof.

                            2. re: Klunco

                              Reposting as the mods removed Ribelle's PR propaganda originally replied to:

                              Clearly the wine "program" is off putting to some. Time will tell if it works or ends up being modified. The idea of discovering new wines is appealing, however the idea of paying up to $18 for an uncertainty is less so. I know the sommelier was somehow named best in Boston before the restaurant even opened, but the way the wines by the glass are handled has a bit of a 'restaurant knows best' vibe to it a la Craigie Street, which doesn't sit well with some. A restaurant has to earn that type of respect. Some succeed in this respect (Bondir, Strip Ts), but many place do not.

                              Wine aside, has anyone eaten here since opening? I am eager to see some reviews and pics. I have to say, at first glance the menu isn't making me rush over there (I'd actually prefer a meal at Strip Ts base on the menu). I'm sure it's one of those deals where you end up realizing to order anything and everything because it's all well done in unexpected ways, but I'd like to hear about the highlights so far. Enough with the hype, let's get to the great food (hopefully).

                            3. re: MC Slim JB

                              I love the idea as well.

                              Less about the stamp-collecting-like wine minutia and more about the establishment choosing a few nice wines as part of their overall food experience. It does involve a little trust on the part of the diner, and that's just fine.

                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                i am not sure that their description of a wine and mine will coincide.

                                i have a fairly good idea what napa cabs, barolos, graves, mosels taste like - especially if i am familiar with the producer.

                                it would take me a fair bit of time to understand the relationship between one person's description aand what the wine tastes like.

                            4. I've had lardo in Italy ..... not my fave...

                              But why lard on swordfish with delish mushrooms?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                Depends on the lardo, I guess. Coppa does a thin layer of lardo (its own) atop its meatball app, and that's really nice.


                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  I guess I don't *get* lardo ( I hope it's that) on fish.

                                  I've eaten it on regular meat dishes and offal, but it sort of puts me off on fish. Call me crazy.

                                  Plus, admittedly, I don't think it adds much to the party.

                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                    Is it the same idea as bacon wrapped scallops?

                              2. I love talking wine at Washington Square Tavern or at Taberno. I am hardly an aficionado but I know a little and enjoy a lot. So I'm going to wait and see how it goes at Ribelle's. For me, the discussion is fun but premature until I've had the experience. The same goes for the food: why would I criticize the combination of lardo and swordfish until I've tasted it? After all, think of wonderful combinations such as oysters and pork that you'd never expect to entrance you. And if I don't like it, it's merely an experiment gone wrong not a cooking catastrophe. I'd rather the kitchen "stretch" for some novelty and have the occasional flop.

                                1. To be perfectly honest the wine weirdness is enough to drive me away. I think it's ridiculous.

                                  Which is too bad. My partner and me and SILs have dropped a lot of $$ at Strip T's and Ribelle is 2 blocks from one if the SILs but they would all be pretty bullshit over this, I imagine.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                    I went to the soft opening and only drank a sparkling & a rose,, but maybe the thinking behind it -is along the lines of Bergamot wine service. They ( Bergamot)have fairly obscure wines and they are selected for the ability to complement the foods on the menu,not necessarily " just quaffing" wines. Bergamot encourages the servers to engage with you to discuss the wines. I found a Jura wine there about a year ago that I wouldn't have considered except that they felt that it was an extremely great match for my food( it was a steak with mushrooms and I started withthe charcuterie )and it was!. Sometimes you can just " trust" and ask to sample before you commit to a glass.
                                    I wouldn't blindly buy a glass of $18 either, but I would sample it, and if I liked it, then I would.
                                    I feel that the wine directors ( & bartenders)have the best intentions in mind for the pairing of the food- Ribelles wine director was last in Boston as Oleannas director and she did a great job there.
                                    Other restaurants that I know specifically select the wines to,pair with their style and currents offerings are Rendezvous, above mentioned Bergamot, Oleanna,Sycamore,Evoo,.Ten tables ,, I could go on. I like when a place takes pride and trust in who they have hired for the job.
                                    And again, I know a lot of people in the business, but my business is music.

                                    1. re: kewpie

                                      One of the times were at Bergamot we ordered a bottle of wine. Our server came back and suggested something different which would pair better with the food. We didn't enjoy (or finish)The suggested bottle. The server expessed surprise because "people" like the one he suggested. Possibly an outliar, but a great example of knowing our own tastes better in most cases. I can't think of anywhere in Boston where I really trust the sommelier in that way.

                                      I am pleased Ribelle supposedly had such a sommelier, and am willing to give it a shot. However my first reaction wasn't that it was a great concept. Perhaps for people who don't really know varietals which match their tastes, but I do. I do hope to discover some great new wines I can procure myself there. It's not life and death as I drink cocktails more often these days anyway, and those do look worthy at Ribelle.

                                      1. re: Gabatta

                                        The one time this happened (when a sommelier suggested something different in wine than the direction we were going) we went with his advice and we also didn't care for the wine. he came back to check, we told him we weren't thrilled, he whisked it away, took it off the bill, and brought us the bottle we had ordered and did not charge for that one. That was at Babbo's. If a sommelier is going to be directive, that's the way to behave. the risk should be on their pocketbook, not on yours.

                                        1. re: teezeetoo

                                          My above comment about the Jura wine was a wine by the glass. I feel that if a server re directs you towards a different wine( by the bottle, ) and you feel strongly that you don't like it, I always tell them. . Im glad that Babbo did that for you.
                                          I like an " orange " wine 90% of the time, but whew! encountered one I couldn't get past the manure nose, and this was graciously replaced with another choice. Still an orange wine, but by a Sicilian producer I had selected for us earlier.

                                        2. re: kewpie

                                          Lets just call it what it is - smartassery - and move on.

                                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                            Well, that's the beauty of the discussion. Was just trying to offer another point of view. Agreed that this thread has run it's course . Will love to hear about actual diners reviews in the coming weeks! We have an upcoming rez there for 8ppl and plan on sampling everything

                                            1. re: kewpie

                                              Oh sure....I just think trying to justify it is off the mark.

                                              I'm going to Ribelle next week for my birthday and I look forward to pairing pasta #1 with red #2.

                                      2. I ate there last night and enjoyed it (although it's very loud). For now, they're taking same-day reservations for the first seating (5-6), and walk-in otherwise. I'll be delighted if they keep that up, because I'd love to be able to go on a whim.

                                        We split an uni appetizer (not on the online menu) that turned out to be uni with shiso in small rolls (maybe brioche bread), with a dipping sauce; I don't remember the details, but it balanced the flavors

                                        We shared two pasta dishes, and I was happy with both. First, rigatoni with octopus and smoked tomatoes: the octopus was cooked sous vide and then quickly finished on the grill, so it was smooth without being at all rubbery, and the sauce was a touch creamy/smoky/just barely spicy.

                                        The other was bigolli with duck meatballs, Jimmy Nardello peppers (raw slices of sweet peppers), and garlic knots. Definitely a fun riff on classic red-sauce pasta and meatballs. And the pasta itself was great: chewy in the center, and definitely fresh. I look forward to seeing their menu change with the seasons.

                                        As for the much disputed wine-by-the-glass policy: as a casual wine drinker, I thought the descriptions were useful, succinct, and gave me a very good idea what I'd be getting; they conveyed acidity, minerality, and "size" of the reds without any flowery wine-critic language. I had a glass of the rose, and the waiter brought the bottle, described the wine (grape/winery/year), and offered a taste before pouring a glass. It was a "Muri Gries lagrien rosato 2012", which wouldn't have meant a thing to me.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Mayica

                                          may, that octopus pasta must be the same dish he started with at ST's, minus the pasta. He served it as an app there. Terrific spunky flavors eh? That's wise of him to open Ribelle w/ that dish; i found it really special. I am a real 'acid freak' when it comes to savory food, and I really like how Tim punctuates with tartness in alot of his dishes-- such as the grilled romaine/oxtail dish and the labneh he often introduces. (Ana Sortun is really strong in that way as well.) He also does some very interesting things with smoke. As in the smoked miso on his burger, and the smoke in the octopus tomato dish you had. Thx for the tantalizing report.!

                                        2. I can see Ribelle from my apartment, so I figured it was time to stop by. I called yesterday afternoon to see if they were taking reservations... Only day of and only for times between five and six. Went ahead and made a reservation for 6 o'clock and got seated at one of their gorgeous tables in the window. My SO and I each started with a cocktail. He had a gin and tonic and I ordered one off of their list... It involved rums, honey shrub, and citrus of some sort... I don't remember what it was called, but it was delicious.

                                          When it came time to order food, we asked our waitress for advice on how much to order. She suggested 3-4 dishes for two people. We decided to order a first course to share, a second course to share, and to each order a pasta. We avoided the wine list drama entirely (although I was charmed and excited by the way wines by the glass were presented, and our waitress emphasized that she'd be happy to tell us about the grape, the vintage, etc and to give us tastes of anything we were interested in), but we just went ahead and ordered a bottle.

                                          Our first course was cherry tomatoes, straciatella, dehydr8, and kimi fig. The dish had a great balance of flavors and a nice freshness to it. While it wasn't the most exciting preparation ever, it did justice to the beautiful summer tomatoes.

                                          The second course came when we were half-way through our first course, which I'll chalk up to it still being early in their run... A little annoying, but we'd ordered things in a strange succession and I was willing to overlook it. For the second course, we ordered the sweetbreads milanese with basil, lemon, and pan gratta. This was my favorite course of the evening. The sweetbreads were grilled and the basil was crunchy. It was so summery and light, which was unexpected for a sweetbreads course, but so appreciated.

                                          We each got a pasta for our third course. My SO had the pappardelle bolognese with kale and pork skin. We really liked this dish... It was an unexpected tale on the classic, and the crunchy pork skin was the perfect addition to the bolognese. I originally planned to order the rigatoni with octopus, fennel, and smoked tomato, but changed my mind at the last minute. I ended up going with the bigoli with duck meatballs, jimmy nardellos, and garlic knots. While this was a lovely version of spaghetti and meatballs, I didn't find it very exciting. Neither the addition of duck nor the nardello peppers did anything to improve on the classic. The bigoli (thick noodles, almost udon-sized) were absolutely perfectly cooked and if I could have ordered a whole basket of garlic knots, I would have.

                                          The dessert menu only had three choices on it... There was a coffee cake, and olive oil ice cream, and what we ended up with which was described as polenta, blackberries, and caramelized white chocolate. It ended up being both soft polenta, cubes of polenta cake, whole blackberries, blackberry sauce, and sort of a caramelized white chocolate dust. I found it to be a little breakfasty for my taste (especially with the warm polenta, which was very reminiscent of oatmeal in this form.) My SO does not like sweet desserts very well, so he enjoyed it more, although we both agreed it could use some sort of a cream element to up the richness. It was tasty, but not a home run for me. It was also a pretty meager portion for the 10 dollar price tag.

                                          I did find it a little off-putting to be spending the kind of money we were in such a nice looking space with waiters wearing junky t-shirts and jeans (one with his boxer shorts hanging out.) I'd really like a more polished experience at that price point. The restaurant space looks great, and the food was solid. Nothing blew me away, but I'll look forward to returning, especially as they refine the menu and the experience.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: marketpeach

                                            Nice review. Thanks. Aside from the smallish dessert, how were the portion sizes on the pastas?

                                            I've always found the portions at Strip T's to be decent. I'm hoping Ribelle follows suit, remembering the complaints from some about the sizes at Giulia in Cambridge.

                                            1. re: bear

                                              I thought they were reasonable. If you went in and just ordered a pasta, you would probably still be hungry after, but with a first course and maybe a dessert it's a filling meal. That said, I don't have a huge appetite and find the portion sizes at many restaurants to be ridiculously large.

                                              1. re: marketpeach

                                                Thanks. I'd be ordering a couple of dishes to share in addition to the pasta so that's helpful.

                                            2. re: marketpeach

                                              "I did find it a little off-putting to be spending the kind of money we were in such a nice looking space with waiters wearing junky t-shirts and jeans (one with his boxer shorts hanging out.) "

                                              I see that Tim Maslow's taking a lot of cues from Momofuku! I had the same reaction when I went to Ssam Bar in NYC. I'm pretty sure they asked the servers to wear the grimiest, most torn-up old shirts and shorts they could find. Now, if he wants to replicate the true Momofuku experience, he'll pipe in some old-school hip hop at top volume and replace the chairs with awkward wooden blocks, as well. (All that said, the food at Momofuku was amazing, so I can't kvetch too much).

                                              1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                I love Ssam Bar but I don't recall disheveled servers. Just the predictable NYC black and a bit of 'tude.

                                                I *heart* David Chang

                                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                                  Last time I went, my server was wearing a CBGB shirt with a big hole in the collar and a pair of cutoff jean shorts with a big (intentional?) rip held together by safety pins.

                                                  The food was awesome, though :)

                                              2. re: marketpeach

                                                maybe i'm dreaming, but i think i remember , pre-opening, hearing about the staff uniform being 'something different', so maybe that has yet to arrive or evolve. or maybe 'different' is what was meant by what it is now. either way, i do completely agree w/ you. jeans and classic ts are one thing, but basketball jerseys and junky is unfortunate, given the space and the food.

                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                  Suggested slogans for Ribelle staff uniform t-shirts:

                                                  "Have you seen our spacious bathrooms?"

                                                  "Try the #4 BTG wine."

                                                  "Why, yes, it is week two here, and I'd love you to write a Yelp review."


                                                2. re: marketpeach

                                                  Interesting you bring this up (dirty t-shirts). Area Four recently switched from everyone wearing their own random T's to all waiters being required to wear "Area Four" T's. I liked the old uniform better.

                                                3. So the good news first: we loved the pasta (one of us had the rigatoni with octopus and one the pappardelle with kale and pork and both were very good) and found it only a little overpriced and undersized, but both lovely strong presentations. We liked the staff: casual but attentive. We liked the wine list: nice mix, lots of small vintages that we didn't know, nice price range on the bottled list. Here's the bad news: our appetizers were pretty awful. The sweetbreads were badly cooked (some parts overdone and some underdone, served with an almost tasteless pesto and basil that managed both to be bland and a poor match to the sweetbreads) - the sardines were badly described in the menu and were closer to pickled herring than anything else and served with a weirdly unpalatable bread thingy that overwhelmed the fish. We longed for traditional here: lovely french style sweetbreads from La Voile for example, and beautiful grilled sardines from Erbaluce. I don't care for the "no bread" thing at any restaurant, particularly one serving pasta, the tap water was tepid and unpleasant, and we cancelled our coffe order because they don't have cream or carry "artificial" sugar. We enjoyed the bottle of sparkling Veiltliner. We'll try again. But our first meal was definitely a mixed bag.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: teezeetoo

                                                    arrrgggh, bummer. AFAIK, Tim never looks at CH, but his dad does, so i'm sure the flop reports will get back to them. I am reminded that my very first trip to ST's, all CH-revved, I had the only disaster I ever had over the many visits following (the baby octopus app was over cooked to shoe-leather toughness) but that was when they still were trying to work w/ some of the original ST's staff, before Tim's team arrived.

                                                    As so many CHs keep reminding us, any new place is bound to have some disasters during opening weeks. Notches on the belt of experience. I eventually went back to ST's and wicked glad that i did; hope you will return to Rib. I'm waiting awhile, and looking forward to the seas calming over there.

                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                      I'll definitely go back and I don't expect to love every experiment the kitchen undertakes but I'm sure they will have far more hits than misses (the pasta really did shine). but i'm gonna want some cream for my coffee!

                                                      1. re: teezeetoo

                                                        yeah, what the heck is THAT about??!! (the MilkMan doesn't deliver cream? the war against obesity? radiated cream but not milk???)

                                                  2. We went to Ribelle for the first time last evening. Excellent meal (though I prefer the menu at Strip T's just a bit more). We shared a number of dishes:

                                                    Garlic Knots: excellent garlic rolls made with duck fat. The tomato suace for dipping was good, but superfluous, they didn't need anything.

                                                    Shishito Peppers with ricotta and preserved lemon. I never met a shishito pepper I didn't like. The thin ricotta and lemon made a nice accompaniment.

                                                    Polenta with corn: great polenta served in a charred corn husk, with excellent grilled corn on top.

                                                    Papardelle (1/2portion) with bolognese, crispy kale, and pork cracklins - excellent.

                                                    Duck filled ravioli (1/2 portion) with sliced duck breast in an indescribably good sauce. The best dish of the night for both of us.

                                                    Sweetbreads Milanese. - very tasty, crispy sweetbreads in a basil pesto, with fried basil leaves. This dish tasted great, but the fried basil leaves had an off putting aroma when first brought to the table.

                                                    Desserts were an olive oil ice cream with crispy chocolate skin, and a sweet polenta with fried polenta cakes and blackberries. Both were fine, but the ice cream was a large portion for something so rich.

                                                    My wife had one glass of Red #2, and 2 cocktails. My cocktails were excellent except for the only misstep of the night. When at a bar/restaurant with excellent cocktails I always have a sazerac for my last drink. I ordered it, and it came on the rocks, with little or no discernible anise smell or taste.

                                                    Bill was just over $200 with tip. We're looking forward to returning, but I won't be ordering a sazerac again!

                                                    1. Not ready to be open. 6 pm reservation -- lifeless margarita and other cocktails delivered promptly. Bad ventilation even with front windows wide open. Noisy like a train station then they turned on music to make it worse,if that was possible. First course hit the table at 7. Okay, not great tasting like expected. No sign of entrees by 7:30. The room was getting very restless so waitress handed out little stuffed peppers with ricotta, which were limp and only two out of eight had ricotta. We left at 7:40. Waitress very apologetic said kitchen couldn't keep up. Said they wouldn't charge us for the entrees -- splendid idea since they never appeared.

                                                      Solution: don't open till you're ready. Take reservations so you can control your capacity.

                                                      10 Replies
                                                      1. re: Ikespie

                                                        Not sure what taking reservations has to do with controlling capacity. But I do wish they would take reservations after 6pm.


                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                          By only seating the amount of diners that you can actually feed properly you may have a better shot at avoiding the chaos I witnessed.

                                                          1. re: Ikespie

                                                            I agree that the number and pacing of covers has to be managed appropriately not to exceed the kitchen's capacity, but that process does not require acceptance of reservations. There are many no-reservations restaurants that do this well.

                                                            Some shakedown cruises are longer than others. Few restaurants that aren't cookie-cutter chain outlets open without some big hitches in the first few weeks, especially with a first-time chef/owner. It's why there's a longstanding custom among pro critics to wait 2-3 months before reviewing a new place, though there is now some pressure (misguided, in my view) to rush to judgement.

                                                            In any event, caveat emptor.


                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                              Will return at some point because I am a fan of his from Strip T's, but the shakedown cruise shall sail without me.

                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                <In any event, caveat emptor. >
                                                                Oh, HIM again!

                                                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                              i hit ribelle; it was 1/2 full at 6 50 when i went; the food was excellent, and i thought that the service was fine though i almost always think the service is fine.

                                                              my only complaint was that it was noisy, and the clientele was clearly on the older side.

                                                              i will return, and i will try to come early or late given the noise.

                                                                1. re: Ikespie

                                                                  the food did not seem to be asian fusion though the combination was interesting and novel. and the price was very moderate for what you got.

                                                            3. re: Ikespie

                                                              Seems odd that this debacle would occur after it's been open and had so many good reviews on this thread for the last few wks. I would have expected this kind of thing to happen around the opening week. Just goes to show that anyth can happen in the restnt bus. But so sorry you had that v bad experience, ike. What most surprises me is that the GM didn't come over to you. Wonder if he was dousing another fire or if the waitress never told him of her/your troubles.....

                                                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                People all around us weren't getting their food or drinks either so I am guessing the kitchen was a mess that night. My suspect the GM was well aware. In the meantime I will let them work out the bugs in Brookline and continue to eat at Strip T's.

                                                            4. Just saw a posting on Strip-T's FB page saying that Ribelle is now taking reservations.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                    The Facebook posting from Strip T's reads:

                                                                    Our sister restaurant Ribelle is now taking reservations in advance for all dining hours. Fantastic and unique food!! We hope to see you soon!! Reservations can be made at 617- 232-2322.

                                                                    1. re: valcfield

                                                                      O Ya Ma! (Japanese for Holy Cow)!!!
                                                                      I want EVerything.But there's jut 2 of us. Anyone want to meet up some week night at opening , and order half portions of the whole menu? )
                                                                      [contact me via my profile pg address

                                                                      p.s. th you, valc

                                                                  1. Ribelle is now doing a late night menu of a couple of different subs and pizza on Fri and Sat from 11-1. Friend I trust had the meatball sub last on their first night of doing this and said it was the best he's ever had.