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Oct 5, 2013 02:08 PM

Kirkland Tap etc

Like Craigie a lot. Go maybe monthly. KTT. Loudest room I have ever experienced. Had to scream at each other. Awful. Service soooooo slow, nice but totally disorganized. Need to work out kinks as place mobbed and servers seemed confused. And they stood around a lot. Bluefish rillette exquisite. Spaghetti with chicken livers divine ( who knew). Roast chicken inelegant in presentation ( kinda ugly actually) and just a quartered bird tossed on a plate. Meh at best. Asked for Brussels sprouts..... granted asked after naked chicken appeared. But hey they are Brussels sprouts and they appeared after we were done with half eaten ugly and generally unappetizing said chicken. Screaming out loud us and over the top music caused us to retire to Bergamot for dessert. No recollection of bottle of wine we drank likely due to decibel level brain damage. Really folks?

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  1. I didn't find the room itself that loud (and I was there on a busy Friday night) but I did find the loud classic rock really annoying. I don't want to hear Zeppelin blaring while I'm eating a $28 entree.

    9 Replies
      1. re: Klunco

        Been there and don't recall any music / noise of this magnitude. Though I left Babbo not quite knowing what all the fuss was about.

        1. re: Klunco

          When I went to Babbo it was intensely-blaring AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Guns n' Roses.

          1. re: Boston_Otter

            Batali is famous for inflicting the music he likes to blare in his kitchen on his guests in the dining room at Babbo, and has been widely copied. I find it obnoxious, myself, an awful trend. I love loud music, but 90-decibel ancient butt-rock when I'm dining out is not ambiance, it's a pox.


            1. re: Klunco

              ha. looking at the menu, surprisingly apt comparsion- besides a couple of $34 outliers, babbo's prices are on par with kirkland's. but y'know. casual place. also re: babbo, capeannetoo, when did you go? just curious because they lost their michelin star a while ago, but after years just got it back this past week, so hoping that means it's become something worth the trouble again!

              1. re: valcfield

                Probably 2 years ago now. We sat downstairs and there was a large party upstairs. Memorable night as an elderly woman had one too many and sorta collapsed on way upstairs. I am in the health biz so went to help. Lasted forever before 2 burly guys ( her relatives) came and carried her UP to the party. Not down and out. Liked the pasta courses best. Rest was ok. Service was good. Always liked OTTO best of Batali bunch and that includes Del Posto.

            2. Similar experience on my recent visit. We were in the back near a speaker and I only made out about half of what anyone at the table was saying.

              At our table we had:

              Squid -- perfectly cooked, admit I'm blanking on the exact presentation
              Spaghetti w/livers and squash -- agree that this is excellent, a perfect way to incorporate seasonal squash without the dish being candy.
              Sprouts -- good but pretty basic and a small portion for sharing

              Pork chop -- this was excellent, giant hunk of meat perfectly cooked, nice grilled onions
              Choucroute -- my entree -- nicely done house-made sausages, kraut, and pork belly. Two complaints: menu says "2 sausages," but it's actually half a link of each. And no potato of substance (I think there might have been a smear of some puree, but it was less than a tablespoon and not enough for me to even be sure what it was.)
              Swordfish chop -- looked excellent, forgot to ask how it was. Very substantial.
              Steak tip brochettes w/ salsa verde -- another hit, cooked just right, and a great sauce.

              Desserts --
              Cornbread pain perdu with raspberries and maple ice cream -- probably the best balanced dish overall.
              Baked apple with caramel of some sort and parsnip ice cream -- the ice cream was a knockout, but preparation was lazy; the apple wasn't cored, which is unforgivable for a $10 dessert.
              Panna cotta -- I'm forgetting the details on this, but no one really liked it much.

              Overall, there were a lot of good *dishes* but it wasn't a very good *meal*. The menu makes it really hard to order a good progression, and the portions are really inconsistent. The spaghetti is substantial; the squid was pretty scarce, and the sprouts were tiny for $8. For dinner, the pork chop and the swordfish chop were about 2x as much food as the steak tips or the choucroute. The desserts are good, but they're not $10 desserts. They either need to step up the execution or reduce the price a bit.

              The other thing that bugged me (and I admit this is personal) was the lack of starch on just about *everything*. A choucroute without potatoes is just bizarre, as are naked steak tips. The only starchy side that could be ordered the night we were there was some sort of a polenta, which really didn't go with either.

              I also have to wonder who is going to pay $6 for a side of mustard or hot sauce.

              Overall, I think the bones are good here; it'll probably be fantastic in a month or two when they work out the issues. Turn down the music, adjust the portions and pricing just a bit, and it'll be a winner.

              23 Replies
              1. re: dtremit

                Too bad on the noise. Just as soon as someone reports that they've toned it down to a conversational level I'll try it. I won't give my money, no matter how good the food, to someplace that makes enjoying a meal with friends a battle. I now ask "how's the noise level" before I ask "how's the food." If the answer to the first question is "loud" I don't bother with the second question.

                1. re: teezeetoo

                  Teezeetoo, I'm with you.

                  I actually keep of list of loud places so I can suggest an alternative when friends bring one of them up for a gathering of the gang.

                  So please fans of this place, let us know when it might be safe for our hearing to enjoy the food. There are so many good places to dine that anyone that might hurt my ears drops to the forbidden list.

                  And, thanks to everyone here who reports on the loud places.


                2. re: dtremit

                  I agree that the pork chop was excellent. Tons of flavor. I wasn't wild about the swordfish. I found the fish itself bland and it didn't have any sear on it.

                  I agree that the portion sides here are strange and make it hard to order. The pork chop is enormous, the brussel sprouts were tiny. A starter of grilled sardines was decently-sized at 3.

                  My friends and I were also puzzled by the $6 side of mustard. Yeah, I know, it's not like they will be spooning Gray Poupon into a ramekin. But charging for condiments? That's a thing now?

                  1. re: dtremit

                    Did the choucroute come with any condiments at all for the sausages/pork, or did you have to pay $6 for mustard for it?

                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                      Oddly enough, it came with some sort of mustard on the plate -- though it wasn't in the description.

                    2. re: dtremit

                      great of you to take the time for these details.thx much.
                      i am totally in agreement re the starch issue, and along that note, wanted to encourage you to try Sycamore, where the Daily Board (duck or lamb or pork or...)is made up of 3 or 4 small groups of protein,starch,veg,condiments ( intended for two people.) Really enjoy this idea.

                      1. re: dtremit

                        Apparently they've ceased charging for mustard. I just got an email from their mailing list which among other things involved patting themselves on the back for giving people free ketchup & mustard.

                          1. re: jgg13

                            yea but the real part of that email i want is the $39 bottle of negroni (wine bottle size) on mondays. if that's a 750 ml bottle that's a crazy deal, and could be a lot of fun.

                            1. re: valcfield

                              Probably cannot legally be served to one person. I recall reading about Drink running into similar issues with their punch bowls.


                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                probably for the best. if they're true to proportions that's ~8.4 oz each gin, campari, vermouth. maybe if it were craigie and you were sticking around for a tasting menu you could comfortably pull that off over dinner but otherwise...

                                1. re: valcfield

                                  Keep in mind that if it's prebottled and mixed, that would imply it's "mixed" ie. 25% of that bottle should be water to account for dilution that would occur in mixing.

                                  So, 6.3 ounces water/Campari/gin/vermouth. A cool concept and reminds me of a bottled Americano I had at Clyde Common in Portland a couple years ago. I wonder it it comes in an ice bucket.

                                  1. re: Klunco

                                    Good point! Totally didn't think about that. Now we're down to numbers I've regrettably enjoyed, hougj over a night, not a casual (lengthwise) dinner!

                              2. re: valcfield

                                Kidding aside, that did piqué my interest.

                                1. re: jgg13

                                  it's illegal to offer a one-night drink special.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    Woah, good point.

                                    I wonder if it costs the same as X negronis, which would make it more just a clever way of serving something once a week but at the same price.

                                    Are the anti-fun laws here based on unit price or would "on tuesdays we serve the beer in a stein!" fall under this umbrella?

                                    1. re: jgg13

                                      a drink special has to be available for an entire business week period, at all hours of operation.

                                      even if they are not promoting it for other days,as long as you also can get that pitcher on wed or fri they are clear.

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                        Right but that's not quite what I meant.

                                        Suppose a place sells a pint of beer for $5 normally. Would it be against the law for them to sell a pitcher containing 4 beers on Monday for $20?

                                        Its a "special" in that you can't get the pitcher on other days, but not a special based on price.

                                        Of course, all this is academic if the price of their negronis doesn't work out this way :)

                                        1. re: jgg13

                                          as long as the alcohol content and price skew upwards equally, it's legal.

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            Got it. So as long as they're on the up & up, it's really just the novelty of getting the negroni in a wine bottle

                                            1. re: jgg13

                                              doing the math on that deal it hardly seems like that can be the normal negroni price on other days. haven't been yet, but my assumption is that drink prices are not bargain-basement?

                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                My assumption is that it's not on the up & up, just trying to figure out if it could be

                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                  it's just dumb.

                                                  there was a south end place a few years back that actually placed an ad either in stuff or the improper about their "wine mondays." abcc was down there the next day, lol.

                          2. Thanks, these reports are helpful. We were going to try it out next weekend, but will hold off for awhile. We switched our reservation to Rendezvous which we know will be excellent.

                            The $6 for mustard seems preposterous, particularly given the base prices. We always found Craigie to be extremely aggressive on the upsell, so not a total surprise.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: Gabatta

                              $6 mustard is insane! That just seems greedy. I'm putting Kirkland Tap on my list of places where the price is not worth it to me.

                              Honestly, last time I went to NYC (Greenwich Village, Upper West Side), I found the prices for food and drink to be *lower* than places in Harvard Square.

                              1. re: MXG

                                "Honestly, last time I went to NYC (Greenwich Village, Upper West Side), I found the prices for food and drink to be *lower* than places in Harvard Square."

                                I think you will find that wherever you go you will find some places that are more expensive and some places that are less. (As someone who lives mostly in NYC, though, I will tell you that NYC is both the most expensive and the least expensive place to live. I can, for example, pay $30 for a pizza Lucali, or $1 for a huge slice at Two Bros.)

                                1. re: MXG

                                  I don't spend as much time currently in New York as in past years, but my sense is that the middle tier offers a lot more strong values than Boston.

                                  But it's always worth noting: New York is 13 times our size and has constituencies to support a very high-end tier and a much larger high-end tier -- which I believe lifts the whole scene overall in ways that go beyond mere scale -- that our little city cannot support.

                                  Comparisons are always meat for long threads, but ultimately it is an apples and oranges argument, or, if you prefer, apples and beans.


                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    It's very inaccurate to say NY is 13 times Boston's size; you have to compare metro areas in which case the ratio is much smaller.

                                    Of course NYC is still going to be another world for the reasons you mentioned as well as the difference in culture the people who live there themselves (beyond socio-economic status and income which is alone rather considerable for the higher end)

                                    1. re: retrofabulousity

                                      Pick your multiplier. My point there is that the scale and density difference is really significant, though as I mentioned, not the only big differentiator that makes meaningful ours-vs.-theirs comparisons problematic.


                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        I agreed that the scale matters as well as other factors but there's a pretty big difference between a 4 to 1 ratio and a 13 to 1 ratio which makes it seem like Boston is much smaller than it actually is.

                                        1. re: retrofabulousity

                                          The counter-argument is that most restaurants of consequence are concentrated in, for lack of a better word, downtown, not the suburbs, so restaurant density vs. city-limits population, or even a subset of that, the key dining-out neighborhoods, is the real significant comparative measure, not metro-area population. Now you're looking at closer to 13x than 4x, I'm guessing.


                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                            While there is, of course a big difference between 4x and 13x, anyone who spends considerable time in both cities knows that NYC (and its restaurant scene) is exponentially larger than Boston's. Mind you, I'm not making a qualitative judgement, just a quantitative one. And it certainly feels a lot more like there are 13x the options in NYC, not 4x. But at the end of the day, the comparison is unproductive. When I'm in Cambridge, I'm not going to NY for dinner, and vice versa. Boston is rightfully proud of its dining scene; we have an embarrassment of riches, especially when one considers what our options were when I was a kid.

                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                      True about the NY scene. The thing is - a pound of mustard seeds is $6 retail. Prepared mustard is mustard seeds + a liquid (water, vinegar, wine, beer) + two days + grinding. It seems petty to charge for this.

                                      I'm sure they'll find paying customers who want to fork over cash for mustard to have with their sausage (Who knows what the ketchup price is at this place?). Just not me.

                                      1. re: MXG

                                        surcharge for bringing your own mustard? other condiments? I do have a small pepper grinder I bring along sometimes.... but the 99 has pepper grinders at each table.

                                2. For those who had the brussels (which i saw from a specials board were listed as duck fat brussels)- are these the same portion as Craigie (which i think also cost $8)? Bigger? Smaller? Or, in other words, is the issue 'merely' that he's charging Craigie prices at Kirkland (which is supposed to be more casual), or that it is in fact worse than what you'd get at Craigie, for an equivalent price?

                                  1. I do know the folks at the Wine & Cheese Cask are not fans. They're getting a lot of KT&T customers parking in their lot. So much so that there were no empty spots when I went by to grab a bottle of wine a few weeks back. There are loads of metered spaces down Beacon people!

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: mkfisher

                                      I would think that a little aggressive towing would take care of that. Kirkland should do the neighborly thing and put up a sign at their host stand, too.


                                      1. re: mkfisher

                                        That's weird that this one restaurant causes a problem but not the others on the same block?

                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                            Ah. Well that makes sense, then. Although anyone fool enough to think parking in another business's lot is fine deserves to get towed, Kirkland should also hang a sign, as you suggested.

                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              bergamot has their own lot( the entire buildings, but not a lot of other businesses' there-- they also have the option of the vast 3 story( NEVER EVEN HALF FULL)-- garage.
                                              its actually part of the whole reason they set up, where they did
                                              P A R K I N G

                                              1. re: kewpie

                                                The parking lot is fine, but I have never failed to find a street spot immediately in that area, whether on Beacon or Kirkland. The people parking in the Wine Cask's lot are just typical lazy, entitled, d-bags; and they deserve to be towed. I am sure Kirkland will have a sign soon. They are still working out the opening details, and surely don't want to be a bad neighbor.

                                                1. re: kewpie

                                                  The same parking lot is legit for customers of The Kebab Factory, too.