Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Restaurant Week Boston

Boston is a city of some truly excellent restaurants, and the twice yearly Restaurant Week comes in handy when there are visitors in town. Adam's parents are visiting from Oklahoma through Saturday and we've eaten quite well so far! Tomorrow I'll finally get to cook a whole meal for guests in the new kitchen, but until then, let me tell you my impressions from some of our out-and-about meals. Please be advised that I am not a restaurant review blogger in any way, shape, or form, and these are just recaps of meals I ate this week. I encourage you to get out and enjoy Restaurant week for yourselves!

We started with dinner at Taranta, a North End Italian restaurant with a Peruvian spin, on Sunday night. The small first floor dining room was pretty loud, but there was one (ahem) boisterous table of eight right near us. In particular, I liked that they had such an extensive Resto Week menu - six entree choices - since places I've been in the past for the prix fixe special had very limited options. I was sad to see that the espresso crusted filet mignon wasn't on the list, but at least it's still on the regular menu, so you can get it in a couple of weeks! Adam's dad ordered the skirt steak and yucca fries, which were just the right contrast of fluffy interior and crispy outside. Adam's corn crusted tilapia was butterific and tasted faintly of the tropics; perhaps they used cocounut in the preparation somehow. My orecchiette was served with a pleasantly zingy aji amarillo sausage and not enough broccoli rabe for my tastes, but I'm a green fiend. Desserts were solid but not standout. Guava and creamy ricotta cannolo, or tiramisu, both sauced with macerated berries. I could picture them in the back filling the cannolo, cutting a square of tiramisu and ladling the berries onto each plate... sadly this mental image made it feel sort of cafeteria-like, even though the desserts were pretty good. I wish dessert wasn't "required" as part of the Resto Week menu, that way people wouldn't phone it in. Regardless of the lackluster desserts, I'll go back to Taranta for sure.

Last night we got a big group together for dinner at Gargoyles on the Square in Davis. In the past, the service here has been great for couples and a little slow for groups, and that stood true last night as well. I understand they were swamped because it's restaurant week, but they took our forks with the entree dishes and didn't bring us any for dessert until I flagged someone down and asked. Not a huge big deal, but we were all sitting there, drooling on our chocolate tarts with no way to eat them... it seemed that there was only one waiter for the front room supported by lots of food runners, which could work under less hectic circumstances, but the poor guy was pretty overworked last night. So now that I've told you the tiny little negative, let's focus on how good the food was, shall we?

I must admit, I have eaten at Gargoyles before and loved it. I have eaten the duck confit with cashews and mango sticky rice before... and loved it. And that's exactly what I did last night. Our friend Ariana has ONLY ever ordered the duck confit at Gargoyles, and she's been there more than me! So it was not exactly shocking that I liked the duck last night (and the leftovers for breakfast, wee!). But the real knockout of the meal was the roasted zucchini soup with almond sour cream and shredded pork. Holy mother of flavors, Batman. This stuff was intense! Smoky from the roasting of the squash, a little sweet and spicy kick in the almond cream, and shredded pork so tender it should be illegal. I simply can't wait to try to recreate this bad boy at home.

Have you guys been enjoying restaurant week? Where have you been? What was the best dish? Where are you dying to go?


  1. oh, i can't wait until you recreate that dish, too! sounds amazing:) i went to no.9 park... their gnocchi melted in your mouth and they paired a yogurt panna cotta w/blueberries and a sweet corn fritter--rocked my taste buds!

  2. Great reviews! The roasted zucchini soup sounds amazing.

    My husband and I went to Umbria in the Financial District last night for Restaurant Week, and our food was delicious. I had a bibb lettuce salad with balsamic dressing and a goat cheese crostini (the goat cheese was obviously the standout flavor), and the filet mignon - which was cooked perfectly. I rarely eat red meat, but when I do I like to go for the best cuts, and this filet did not disappoint! The only dessert offering was tiramisu, which was pretty tasty. Overall, we had a great meal and I would definitely recommend Umbria.

  3. I haven't been taking in the tastes of Restaurant Week, so I'll live vicariously through you. I'm contented to read about Taranta though as I've been curious about its offerings. The corn crusted tilapia is tempting...

  4. I've been wanting to go to Taranta... it's great to hear about your experience. I have reservations at Pazzo next week, which recently took over Croma's spot on Newbury Street. It's supposed to be very good, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

    In past years, Maurizio's in the North End and Henrietta's Table in Cambridge were very good.

  5. I had lunch at Sel de la Terre (but not the restaurant week menu), does that count?

  6. That's sounds interesting! Restaurant week.. Hmm..