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Oct 14, 2013 05:46 PM

Anyone else think ribelle (brookline)?is trying too hard?

First off prop for restauranteurs trying new things and flavors. I'm known to complain that we don't have as inventive of a restaurant scene as other cities, so trying new flavors and combos are a big plus to our city. Went to ribelle about 4-6 weeks ago. Enough has been written on the noise, and ppl enjoying their food, so maybe it's just me, but it really feels like the food tries to hard to be different. I had the polenta ( I think? It was served in the corn husk) and that was great. Also had some cauliflower app (not impressed) and the duck with Asian dumplings. It just did not work off me, Loire flavors are being forced. I know the momofoku alum connection, but at momofoku, the weird flavors blend well off me, at ribelle it just doesn't come together for me. I felt the same at strip-t. Why leave the foot on the fried chix? Does it taster better fried? No, it's just for effect. Same at ribelle, cool ingredients, that didn't gel for me. Almost the antithesis of comfort food. Other than that, the wine list is fun, and I will try again and hope maybe it was what I ordered, especially since I can walk there. Not really a review, sorry, just wondering if others feel the same as I did.

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  1. I'd say some dishes are more successful than others, and they've experimented a lot. The menu has changed top to bottom in the weeks since it opened. When it's good, I think it's really good, and the hits far outweigh the misses, in my book.

    6 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      I love Strip Ts' and Ribelle, but the problem I have is when they keep changing their menu. When the dishes work, it's fantastic, but often I wish they would just keep it on the menu, (please bring back the fried cauliflower and rainbow trout!!) I know they want to keep things interesting and perhaps the chefs get bored, but I would say half the time I try something new on the menu, I'm slightly disappointed. Not to say it's bad per se, but THEIR GOOD DISHES ARE SO GOOD, IT SETS A CERTAIN STANDARD.

      My complaint with Ribelle, is at the price point for their appetizers, every appetizer dish needs to be spot on. Pastas are awesome and priced right, but their appetizers are priced higher then Toro and Oleana!! Some of these appetizers are good, but not all keep to the high standard they set,(Toro's version of sweetbreads for example are still better). If they want to keep experimenting, perhaps they should lower the prices like they did at Strip T's when they first opened, and then raise them when the dishes become a signature and established. This way expectations from customers won't be so high because of the price. Toro and Oleana keep the same appetizers for a reason, even though they do have specials.

      People are expecting a lot from Ribelle, and I hope they can work out their kinks. I'm a huge fan of both Strip T's and Ribelle, and really hope they can be our versions of the "Momofuku" empire in Boston.

      1. re: Torolover

        I think that is the problem (expectations ). These places are not like the Momofuku restaurants, and honestly probably never will be. Just because Maslow worked for Chang doesn't mean they're going to be at that level. The creativity at the Momofuku restaurants often challenges the eater, but usually delivers in the end with unexpectedly wonderful results. It is an added level to the meal to think that you may not like something or "don't get it", and then be proven wrong by the chef. It's a whole different level of trust. Strip Ts and Ribelle try for this, but don't hit the mark nearly as often. This isn't to say and anyway the ST'd isn't an excellent restaurant. I enjoy it very much. However I don't go in there expecting Momofuku.

        1. re: Gabatta

          Agreed, and there's another related point I routinely make: reading too many reviews before you go, which not only can spoil some welcome surprises, but (more perniciously) can over-inflate expectations past the point of reason.

          Here's what I try to do: read a review or two from people whose opinion I already admire, if available, or if it's a chef or operator whom I already respect, not even do that. But I stop reading reviews at the point where I say, "Hmm, I think I want to add that one to my to-try list." Same rule applies to movies, plays, TV shows, etc. There's more than one kind of spoiler.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            U are soooo correct. I have ridic bad review of French laundry. Is that even possible?? At six hundy a head it as. But I did not read about ribelle directly but saw pre open hype and the crowds. But sooooo wanted a momo noodle bar, ko, Alinia, Gary danko, la bernadin, etc', ie life altering experiences. Is that fair, probably not, but that's why we are hounds and not Za----' followers. Thanks. Appreciate the alternative views. I'll try ribelle again. We will see.

          2. re: Gabatta

            OK, so maybe not quite at the same level at Momofuku, but I'm sure the chefs are aiming to be the best they can in Boston. I'm sure they feel they can be better or just as good as Toro, Coppa, Oleana, and Bondir.

            Don't you feel the price point for appetizers at Ribelle are too high to experiment with and have some fall a little flat? Again the ones that work show their potential.

            When Strip T's opened almost all of their apps were spot on, and at less then $8 or $9 at the time, not a big deal, if it didn't work.

            1. re: Torolover

              I'd say this is an argument for waiting out the shakedown cruise. Maslow has headed up kitchens for other people, and remade the menu at another place that was already up and running, but Ribelle is his first startup effort. I understand the excitement attendant to an opening like this, but I think this is a better-than-usual example of the virtues of waiting for the dust to settle. The early weeks here have featured some pretty rough sledding.

              Prices strike me as pretty typical for the concept and level of execution. It ain't cheap, but it doesn't feel particularly gougey to me, either.


      2. I'll be eating here next week, so I'll have more to comment on then.

        I found the flavors at Strip-Ts to mostly work so I'm hopeful.

        I agree with McSlimJB: reviews and perception (in this case of Maslow) can inflate beyond the point of return. I'm guilty of reading reviews/hype as are many.

        Anyone have comments on the wine list? I know the somm is well-thought of but I'd like more insight into the bottle list (I'm not a Red # 3 kind of guy!).

        9 Replies
        1. re: QuakerInBoston

          may have a post on food later, but, let's nip a repeat of this btg in the bud- the second our server told us about the wine list (this was last week) she immediately said she would be happy to provide year, vintage, varietal etc if we wanted to no more about the by the glass; this was unprompted by us, as part of the opening spiel on the menu.

          not saying this will happen every time, but given the immediacy with which she said it was clear they know some people want that and are learning/have been trained to respond accordingly.

          1. re: valcfield

            Fair enough. I'd still love to know a bit more about the by-the-bottle list!

          2. re: QuakerInBoston

            15 sparklers, including a bunch that aren't Champagne, from France, Austria, Italy. $26-$132, with a cluster around the $50-$60 range.

            A couple dozen whites, leaning French, Italy next best represented, a few from Oregon, a bottle or two each from Germany, Austria, Spain, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Sonoma. $28-$87, mid-point probably $50.

            A dozen ros├ęs, mostly French and Italian, one Austrian and one from Sonoma. $29-$76, most in the 30s.

            A couple dozen reds, $37-$82, mid-point in the high fifties. Again heavily French, followed by Italian, a few Californians, one from Oregon, one Chilean.

            Ten reserve bottles: one sparkler, four whites, five reds, $62-$259, average is probably $140.

            Only a couple of half-bottles, nothing large-format.

            If there's a theme, it's that the som seems to favor Loire and Piedmont more than many local colleagues.

            Hope that helps!


              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Is this from memory or do you have a copy of the wine list?

                Do you know if a website is in the works?

                1. re: Klunco

                  Videocamera hidden in my turban. Actually, from notes. I don't know about plans for a website.


                    1. re: QuakerInBoston

                      Perhaps you have a bee in your bonnet?

                      1. re: Luther

                        A tapeworm in my gut, a bee in my bonnet, and a bug, er, somewhere.