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Ribelle: Early Bird Bargain

Ok, we've had the four star discussion, and the "just opened not quite grown-up" discussion. This was my third visit: met friends for an early dinner to test out the 3 items for 30.00 dinner which is served I believe if you come before 6:30. Four of us shared 12 dishes, each of us had a cocktail, and we split a bottle of wine: tab was $240.00 before tip. We were so stuffed we actually left some food (and we're all seriously eaters). In addition to what we considered a bargain price for the food and drink, every dish was either super good or at least very good (none of us are knocked out by the deserts though they were perfectly acceptable). The duck mousse came with the best breadsticks, the pasta dishes each had superbly made pasta, the rigatoni and octopus was even better than my first time with it, the riff on toad in the hole (egg encompassed in fontana cheese toast with shisito peppers) was both delicious and made you smile, and the marinara sauce with the garlic knots was so good that my companion, an excellent home cook as am I, was disgruntled: she glumly admitted it was better than hers. Our cocktails were very good (my From the Hip was yummy, with mescal, campari, mint and something else). Service has dramatically improved from our August visit and even from last week's stop at the bar and was relaxed and attentive. It was still loud. Very loud. Oh well - I'm still thrilled to see it coming up and quite happy to be a neighbor.

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  1. Thanks for the report! I've been dying to head over there for the 3 for $30 bargain as that definitely fits my budget. :) It still hasn't happened yet as I can't seem to get out of work on time but I think I'll make it work next week. Question - can you chose any three things things you want from the menu? The early bird menu posted on Eater a few weeks back showed a bread section, vegetables, seafood, meat and dessert. Can you pick any three things total or do you have to stick with the traditional app, entree and dessert categories? I'm intrigued and excited!

    3 Replies
      1. re: mkfisher

        it's any 3 things and the menu choices are plentiful (it isn't the whole menu and you can order additional items if you find the set of 3 isn't filling though we can't imagine that happening). The only restriction, other than that the "3 for 30" isn't the entire menu is that the whole table must participate. But each of you can order any combination of three things you want. If you eat with "sharers" (as we do) that means you can explore quite a number of tastes. Our bill was expanded by 4 cocktails and a bottle of lovely Oregon pinot noir that was a shade under $60.00 but you could easily do the tasting menu and a glass of wine for $40.00 a person.

        1. re: mkfisher

          The bartender described it to (the two of) us as: you could get six ice creams for all I care! In fact, you'd be my heroes!

      2. Wow, that seems like a really good deal. What days is this on, only M-F?

        (I'd check there website, but couldn't find one with a quick google. Also, no mention of this deal on their twitter that I could find.)

        4 Replies
          1. re: tysonmcneely

            I'm sorry, I don't know about weekends on this. They actually told us about the availability when we made a reservation. I'm thinking it must be posted maybe on their website or mentioned
            in the Globe review, but we really did find the quality to value impressive.

            1. re: tysonmcneely

              Website is ribellebkline.com (though it's just a front page at this point)

              1. re: tysonmcneely

                We got this on Saturday. We weren't handed the early bird menu but had to ask for it. We were happy that it was an option on a Saturday night! And like others have said, it was a significant amount of food. Can't wait to go back.

              2. We went for this special tonight. We're also neighbors, and we were excited for another (more affordable) chance to stop by. We enjoyed our first dinner there, but found it overpriced. Tonight, our bill before tip was $121. That included the three for 30 x2, two cocktails, a beer, a glass of wine, and a digestif. This seemed much more fairly priced to us than our last experience.

                We had:
                Garlic knots: Last time we had these as a side to a pasta dish. Tonight they were cooked with pork fat (rather than duck) and were a knock-out as a stand-alone dish.
                Kohlrabi with veal tongue and green beans: This was oddly placed under the vegetables section as the veal tongue was the star. That said, the tongue was tender with a nice grilled flavor and the kohlrabi green bean salad on top was a lovely counterpoint.
                Duck liver mousse with sauce gribiche and honey with house made breadsticks: I found this too sweet at first, but it grew on me. I'm a sucker for liver!
                Swordfish with peanut gremolata: this was a pleasant surprise. The peanut flavor paired very nicely with the swordfish... Paired with some very large, well-cooked beans.
                Pappardelle bolognese with kale and pig skin : Pleasantly smokey and salty and crunchy. Just like it sounds.
                Coffeecake: Meh. This was the only real disappointment of the evening. (The second time we've had a less than satisfying dessert there.) I think of coffee cake as moist and buttery... This was neither. A spongey cake topped with an ice cream of sorts (lemon verbena, maybe?) with a sort of crumb topping and some sort of berries. It was fine, but the flavors/textures didn't really work for us.

                Overall, a better experience for a better value than our last trip. We got there at 5:45 tonight (Monday.) Not sure if it was as a result of the holiday, but all of the tables were reserved. We sat at the bar, had pleasant and attentive service and great drinks. Everyone was more professionally dressed than the last time we were there. Overall, a better experience, but still not sure I'd go back for anything other than the early bird/ late night menu (haven't tried the late night yet, but looking forward to it.)

                6 Replies
                1. re: marketpeach

                  Plse tell us what those garlic knots are! i asked on another thread because they were mentioned on a few posts, but didn't see a response!

                  that coffee cake has had other mehs as well as yours. it was the only dessert our waitress said she wasn't keen about.

                  thx for the detailed comments!

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    The garlic knots are simply bread dough (usually pizza dough) seasoned with lots if garlic, usually butter (although pork fat in this case,) and lots of Parmesan, rolled into a knot shape. A quick google shows plenty of pictures of what they typically look like... While these looked like your average pizza shop garlic knots, they definitely went above and beyond in flavor.

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      Really good garlic bread. I prefer Ribelle's version to the A4 version mentioned on the other thread.

                      1. re: mkfisher

                        Ribelle's are something special. That said, the ones at Crazy Doughs are perfectly acceptable. I'm not picky when it comes to dough, fat, garlic, and cheese all tangled up!

                        1. re: marketpeach

                          how come these are not a thing in Boston? Most pizza places in NYC have them. Too bad, they are great.

                          1. re: hyde

                            I missed them from my days living in the Hudson Valley and had to resort to making my own.

                  2. Would it be inappropriate to bring two pretty well-behaved kids (5 & 8) to Ribelle right when it opened? The general loudness makes me optimistic, but is this just not the kind of place for kids?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: javelina

                      not inappropriate in the sense of too formal- possibly inappropriate in the sense of 'your kids might hear things you don't want them too' and 'there might not be accomodations for them food wise.' definitely if you'd go i'd get a reservation and ask for the non-communal table (or see what they say about kids, in any event), as that could definitely solve the overhearing-things issue

                      1. re: javelina

                        Totally appropriate. We had a great time there a few weeks ago with our 1.5-year-old, sitting at the end of the communal tabl next to a mom with her 7ish-year-old daughter. Got there at 5:10. Kiddo had a great time and meal and we felt very welcome: smiles and waves from waiters and patrons, a great set of bread + cheese dishes that worked for our picky eater, a view of the trains going by on Beacon St, staff very accommodating about packing up food (we dramatically over-ordered), and an ideal noise level -- we could hear each other fine but ambient noise was high enough that no one was bothered when kiddo shouted in excitement each time a train went past.

                      2. Nice report, thank you. This is currently my favorite restaurant deal in the Boston area. The dishes are the same size as (and a subset of) the full-price items on the menu, many of which cost in the $20s on their own. They have installed soundproofing recently, but I still like getting in early before the room figuratively (and literally) heats up.

                        1. We managed to get to Ribelle last night for this special. The restaurant and bar were both fairly empty when we arrived (6pm), but filled up quite a bit by the time we left at 8. We shared 6 dishes and frankly, it was way too much food. These are not "small plates", folks! I can't really see a better value in Boston right now. Here's how we fared:

                          Duck liver mousse - delightful, as previously talked about, and a little sweet; the breadsticks are not really the right vehicle for getting the mousse into your mouth.

                          Egg in the hole with shishito peppers: dare I say it was a tad too dry? How is that even possible with all the butter they must surely fry this in? It's possible the bread was just a tad too large and thus didn't get properly moist, but the overall flavors were creamy, spicy, sharp and right on.

                          Kale with oyster cream - a beautifully done dish, though I'm not sure why it was served at room temperature.

                          Black bass collar - a nicely cooked piece of fish with a bright tartar.

                          Rigatoni with octopus - the octopus really is as fabulous as everyone says - so perfectly cooked and tender. Rigatoni was slightly tough. Hard to tell if it was a the dough or the cooking method.

                          Pappardelle - the best dish of the night. Comfort food at its finest.

                          Their wine list featured a red with a fabulous nose - Red 3 - and a lot of other interesting choices. I will be back!

                          3 Replies
                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              I stopped for lunch at Strip T's and it was as good as ever. I got my fix of eggplant banh mi and smiled all afternoon. Yes, he can cook and I think he'll make a fine go of it at both places.

                            2. re: gini

                              I did the early-bird special recently (that feels weird to say), and it's a fantastic deal. Very few dishes on the regular menu are excluded from it. One change: the faro with snails dish from the regular menu omitted the (presumably costly) snails, but when we ordered the early-bird version, it came out with snails anyway.


                            3. We may be among the last Boston-area foodies to the table, but we finally made it to Ribelle for the early-bird with 4 adults and two 9-year olds. We were just going to order pasta for the kids, but we ended up getting them the special for them, too. It essentially meant the rest of us were getting 4-for-40, so we were able to sample widely. First the kids: the bolognese proved a bit challenging for them both (both are pretty adventurous), but a request for simple pasta with butter was quickly and graciously fulfilled. Now the adults: the mood brightened immediately with the cocktails. Sweetness appropriately subdued, interesting savory components. Grandpa's whisker's, with carmelized onions, seemed an acquired taste to most, but fortunately one in our party had acquired it, and thought it fantastic. The wine program is quirky but fun. The sparkling gruner veltliner was unusual and refreshing; a syrah/cab/grenache/something else blend for $26 was a quaffable bargain. The cheese toast with shosito peppers was lip-smacking (as mentioned above), my SO raved about the escarole, but the majority vote for winner was the rigatoni with octopus. The olive oil ice cream was better than we expected - we finished 2 bowls. Service: no issues. They seem to have a good teamwork ethos going. Sound level: energetic, but not off-putting. I noticed sound-absorbing panels in the roof, which our waiter said had been installed about 6 weeks prior.
                              Ironically we lived about 25 yards away from this place when it was possibly the worst Indian restaurant in town. Ribelle is a winner. And we concur that the 3-for-30 early-bird special is probably the best deal around.

                              1. We went last evening to sit at the bar and do the 3 for $30 early bird special. Absolutely phenomenal way to appreciate this wonderful place. We had the porcini oil toast with egg and shishito peppers, the pasta with cheese and breadcrumbs (made special by the amazing cheese used), beef carpaccio with fried snails (why haven't I had fried snails before? Amazing!), grilled greens with parmesan and boar, pappadelle bolognese, and the rigatoni with smoky tomato sauce and octopus. Everything was amazing, if I had any complaint it was there was little if any discernible boar on the salad, but it was still so tasty, we didn't really mind. Our check was inflated by a bunch of cocktails, but it was still a deal! Can't wait to return.

                                1. We had another stellar brunch at Ribelle today and I learned of some major changes in the Ribelle dinner menu set up. The Early Bird menu will continue (you have to ask for it [was that always the case?]) I couldn't tell if it might be smaller than it was before......

                                  But the big change is the nightly pre-fixe tasting menus(5 courses and 9) which will be offered in addition to a list of ala carte items (today's menu has 17.) The tasting menus are $59 and $89 and contain many new items plus smaller portions of ones on the ala carte menu.
                                  The 5 course is a Pasta Degustation , 4 pastas plus 1 dessert. The 9 course is 7 savories plus 2 desserts.
                                  I hope they get some better desserts; i've always felt that was a major weak spot there.

                                  They have turned an area of their walk-in into a dry aging section and they are now buying all their meats whole from NEFF, which enables them to buy only pasture raised meats and poultry.

                                  And Strip T's dinner menu is being reworked as we speak.
                                  Seems tim is thinking of bringing back the comfort food customer favs (burger, fried chicken, fish n chips) and it will be fun to see what else.

                                  1. Ribelle finally has menus posted on their website!!

                                    and yes, they do change frequently! :