by victoria abbott riccardi| December 1, 2010 |
Food & Drink
L'Espalier's skirt steak with fresh fava beans, English peas and fingerling potatoes
WHERE: L’Espalier WHY: The cheese cart alone is worth it.
Go for the Chef’s Tasting Journey at this Back Bay jewel—if you can handle it. It’s an 11- or 12-course feast enjoyed in the dining room, or at the chef’s table in the kitchen for an additional fee. Like all of Frank McClelland’s restaurant menus, this culinary adventure draws on the organic ingredients— vegetables, fruits, free-range poultry, eggs and pork—that the chef transports from his Apple Street Farm in Essex to the kitchen. They are transformed into lavish small dishes, such as beef tenderloin with foie gras, potato gnocchi, spinach and a Madeira truffle sauce. Included in this tasting are a decadent dessert by pastry chef Jiho Kim and selections from the infamous cheese cart, where you’ll find 25 to 30 tempting selections from New England and around the world. $250 per person, plus $130 for wine pairings. 774 Boylston St., 617-262-3023; lespalier.com
WHERE: Menton WHY: The genius wine pairings and topnotch service.
At this Fort Point Channel culinary treasure, set with Austrian Zalto wine glasses and French silver and linens, you’ll encounter four- or seven-course tasting options. Executive chef Colin Lynch prepares market-fresh ingredients with the technique of France and the soulfulness of Italy to create quiet extravagance on the plate. The tasting begins with a small bite to entice the palate and then progresses to decadent fare like venison carpaccio with shaved white truffles or heirloom hens cooked in a pig’s bladder, all paired with inspired and often surprising wine selections. The wait staff are both subtle and attentive. The goal? For guests to feel contented, cared for, inspired and wowed. $95 for four courses, plus $65 for wine pairings; $145 for seven courses, plus $105 for wine pairings. 354 Congress St., 617-737-0099; mentonboston.com
WHERE: Deuxave WHY: New England fare has never been so original.
In this airy, chic space, chef/owner Chris Coombs offers a five-course tasting menu for the entire table only. Focusing on New England ingredients, Coombs will create a progression of small tastes that are modern without being overly edgy—don’t look for mad-scientist tricks involving gelatin or dry ice. Instead, anticipate refined spins on classic dishes such as heirloom carrot purée with truffle-dusted scallops and curried cauliflower, or citrus lobster fricassée with wild mushrooms and gnocchi pillows. Price varies. 371 Commonwealth Ave., 617-597-5195; deuxave.com
WHERE: Clio WHY: Ken Oringer is at his best.
Oringer’s flagship is the place to go for his upscale spin on modern French food. Go for broke with the 14-course tasting (regular or vegetarian), which changes daily and includes a few extras, like a buttonsize butternut squash financier. Beyond these treats, you’ll encounter 11 savory courses, one perfect French cheese and two desserts, usually one fruit and one chocolate. Consider opting for the white truffle supplement. It’s the holidays, right? $135 per person, plus $100 for wine pairings. 370 Commonwealth Ave., 617-536-7200; cliorestaurant.com
WHERE: T.W. Food WHY: Culinary artistry Chef/owner Tim Wiechmann’s mission is to promote artisanal food and cooking through handcrafted pastas, charcuterie, sausages, pastry and ice creams made from locally harvested produce and ingredients. You can taste what he means with the six-course Grand Tasting—regular or vegetarian—that consists of four savory courses, such as a duck and foie gras pastry torte with chanterelle and matsutake mushrooms, one cheese course and dessert, such as a frozen Seckel pear soufflé with chocolate and caramel. $59 per person, plus $35 for wine pairings. 377 Walden St., Cambridge, 617-864-4745; twfoodrestaurant.com
WHERE: Meritage WHY: Gourmands and oenophiles can make their own matches. Chef/founder Daniel Bruce is the ultimate wine and food matchmaker, as evidenced by the 3,000-plus original dishes he’s created in the past two decades to accompany wines for the Boston Wine Festival. Here, the menu is divided into six categories of wine, each paired with a selection of large and small plates. The menu begins with several Champagne-friendly dishes where, for example, a maplesmoked salmon, crème fraîche and avocado tower would pair well with Piper Heidsieck Champagne. $16 per small-plate pairing; $32 per largeplate pairing. 70 Rowes Wharf, 617-439-3995; meritagetherestaurant.com
WHERE: Oishii Boston WHY: Trust the sushi master’s creative whim.
At this sleek sushi emporium, opt for the omakase, a Japanesestyle tasting menu in which the guest decides the final meal price, then trusts (omakase means “to entrust” in Japanese) the chef to do his thing. In this case, it’s chef/owner Ting San, who will craft your multicourse menu of hot and cold, cooked and raw, savory and sweet small bites not often found on the regular menu. Think maki with toro and truffles. If possible, sit at the sushi bar so you can converse with the master while he performs his culinary magic. From $150 per person, plus $45 for wine pairings. 1166 Washington St., 617-482-8868; oishiiboston.com