Category Archives: Restaurant Review

Restaurant review: Bistro du Midi

This was my first visit to the two-story French restaurant overlooking the Boston Public Garden. Truthfully, I prefer the decor of its predecessor, Excelsior, but the food and service here could not be faulted.  Bistro du Midi restaurantZagat describes Bistro du Midi as serving “classic” Provençal cuisine enlivened with “modern presentation”.  I’m not exactly sure what that means but the food certainly was beautifully presented as you can see from the first courses served: Deconstructed Soft Shell Crab – $17; Tuna Tartare – $16; Beef Tartare $15; and Grilled Octopus $18, which I devoured.

Bistro du Midi AppetizersGrilled Octopus

I really enjoyed the sea bass filet ($32) shown below, which happened to be one of the special dinners prepared by the kitchen that night. The fish was beautifully presented with half the plate pristine and the other dusted with herbs and spices over a filet that was cooked perfectly and very flavorful.Sea BassAlthough I rarely get dessert, Bistro du Midi is known for their souffle, which takes 25 minutes to prepare so is encouraged to be ordered ahead of time.  The four of us ended up ordering two different souffles ($12 each) as well as their chocolate beignet, lavender crème for $9.  The souffle’s were consumed so quickly you may not have realized they were even served but for the evidence of the empty ramekins.  The beignets were sufficiently decadent but it was the aromatic and flavorful lavender crème that I enjoyed the most about the dessert.

Bistro du Midi dessertDinner which included an appetizer, dinner and dessert along with a glass of wine worked out to approximately $75 / person with tip.  This isn’t the sort of place that I can go to regularly, but if you enjoy French cuisine and are looking for an option in the Back Bay to splurge, I’d suggest it for your consideration.

Bistro du Midi is in the Heritage on the Green Building at 272 Boylston Street.

Restaurant review: Dos Caminos Midtown

mexican restaurant in NYCDos Caminos is a Mexican restaurant with four locations in Manhattan.  Last month I met my brother for dinner at Dos Caminos Midtown on a warm summer night.  We picked the restaurant for three reasons: it was close to where we were staying; it has a large outdoor patio; and my brother suggested it (I never question him when he recommends Mexican).

The patio provides great people watching and we settled in by ordering cold beers and guacamole, which comes with a  huge basket of chips and three salsas: mild, medium (which is fairly smoky), and hot.  The menu is divided into sections including: Guacamole ($5-$14), Ceviche ($12-$18), Starters ($10-$13), Tacos ($16-$36) and House Specialties ($18-$26).

Guacamole with chips and salsa for two $14

Guacamole with chips and salsa for two $14

I found our server both attentive and helpful when navigating the menu.  He made excellent suggestions and left us to enjoy our meal together.  My brother ordered the Dos Caminos Chopped Salad with grilled steak. While it looked good and he said he enjoyed the salad, I’m fairly certain his favorite part of his meal was the side of sweet plantains he ordered.  They were served soft, warm and sweet. I ended up helping myself to a few of them for the sake of this review.

Dos Caminos NYC

Chopped salad with steak $19.50

After some serious consideration I opted to get the herb-roasted chicken breast served with plenty of rice and beans.  The chicken was prepared with its skin and the herbs add a bit of fragrance to the plate when it is first served.  The additional side of rice and beans is a bit of overkill but it didn’t stop me from overeating and giving it my best shot to try and finish all of it.

Dos Caminos, NYC

Herb roasted chicken breast $22

While this isn’t the best Mexican I’ve had – it was perfect for an evening outside and anyone looking for casual dining outdoors in this part of town should check it out. Dos Caminos is located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 50th Street.

Restaurant review: Carbone in Hell’s Kitchen

Carbone Ristorante Hells Kitchen MenuCarbone is a tiny unpretentious Italian restaurant located on a relatively quiet (is anyplace quiet in NYC) street in Hell’s Kitchen.  This restaurant should not be confused with the swanky restaurant by the same name in Greenwich Village.

Carbone came to my attention while I was searching for places nearby and the 3.7 rating on Zomato seemed to make this a solid choice.  Upon entering I was greeted by the owner who only goes by Alessandro and a friendly host who ushered me out to their tiny private back patio. Unfortunately dodgy weather brought me back inside to avoid rain, but the cozy vibe of the place made for a great first impression.  This space is probably only 12′ at its widest point and the exposed brick wall gives the impression of a back alley (think Lady and the Tramp).

Roallatine Di Melenzane $13

Roallatine Di Melenzane $13

I ordered a glass of the Montepulicano, which was suggested by the waiter and proved to be much to my liking, followed by the Rollatine Di Melenzane.  The eggplant rolls came with the mozzarella cheese still melting on to the plate. This proved to be my favorite part of the meal. The thinly sliced eggplant were overstuffed with ricotta cheese and the tomato sauce was sweet and delicious. I used the  bread to get most of the excess sauce and ricotta that oozed out when I cut the pieces to eat.

Pizza Italiano $16

Pizza Italiano $16

With approximately one quarter of Carbone’s dinner menu dedicated to pizza, I opted to skip the main dishes and pastas and order the Pizza Italiano which is topped with cheese, arugula, fresh tomatoes and prosciutto.  When served the cheese and prosciutto smelled wonderful but ultimately it disappointed because I thought the crust lacked flavor.  Based on the rollatine and the many positive reviews of this restaurant I wonder if I made a mistake and should have ordered a pasta. One thing I do know is that Tavola, which is located around the corner is the better choice for pizza.  However, the cozy vibe and very reasonable price point makes this a place worth considering; just be sure to stick to the pastas.

Carbone’s is located at 331 W. 38th Street between 8th & 9th Ave.

Troquet Boston is a wine lovers restaurant

Troquet BostonTroquet is a cozy two-story restaurant overlooking the Boston Common in the Theater District.  The restaurant, which first opened in 2001, prides itself on their wine list and the modern French food that accompanies it (and in precisely that order). The menu is set up with wine suggestions from a numbered list by the bottle and glass that you can order for every entree.

Troquet is worth visiting if you’ve never been or if it has been a while since your last visit.  My preference is to go earlier in the week before the mad rush of the theater crowds hit in full force, which means on a Tuesday or Wednesday since the restaurant is closed on Mondays.

Troquet’s marinated beet salad with herbs, hazelnuts, and creamy Bucheron goat cheese for $14 was how I started my dinner but a camera failure on my part prevents me from sharing the starter which was flavorful, textured and refreshing. My dining companion skipped a starter and ordered the Black Sea Bass which comes presented in a large plate / bowl with saffron gnocchi, fava beans and New England shellfish bouillabaisse.

Troquet Boston

Black Sea Bass at Troquet Boston $38

For my main dish I ordered the Roasted Chicken, which came served on a bed of ditali pasta, cippolini onions, chanterelle mushrooms, asparagus and a Madiera jus that was so deliciously flavorful that no trace of the food was left when our server came to take away our plates.

Troquet Boston Chicken

Roasted Chicken at Troquet Boston $29

Troquet can be tricky to get a table on the weekends so reservations are strongly recommended.  They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 5-10:30 p.m.

Restaurant review: B&G Oysters

B and G Oysters restaurantIn 2003 Barbara Lynch opened B&G Oysters in what previously had been a casual creperie, which I loved called Le Gamin – referred to by residents as Le Gay Man. While I loved Le Gay Man, it is hard to begrudge Barbara Lynch for opening B&G Oysters.  Its impressive that a dozen years later B&G Oysters remains the best option for seafood in this neighborhood.  Simply put, nobody comes even close and on a recent visit I was reminded all over again how much I like this tiny restaurant with the chic back patio. Upon entering I was greeted by the friendly host, Randy, who talked up the menu when I asked for his favorite selections and then I was well taken care of at the bar by my attentive server, Mark.

B&G Oysters, Barbara LynchB&G Oysters entrees (which are exclusively seafood) range in price from $26 to whatever the market bears for one of the best (and most expensive) lobster rolls in Boston.  Before I start a meal here I always order fresh oysters so on this visit I asked for a half dozen bivalves from both the East and West Coast. I don’t pretend to be an aficionado on oysters so I explained what I wanted and Mark accommodated me perfectly with his selection.  By the time I was done, my beer was half gone and I felt like I could taste the ocean on my lips – what a perfect start for dinner in Boston on a warm summer night.

Barbara Lynch, HalibutI followed the oysters with the East Coast Halibut that is baked in parchment with a saffron broth that includes fennel, cherry tomatoes and green olives with plenty of fresh herbs. The plate was served steaming – I had just watched the chef snip open the parchment after pulling it from the oven – and the presentation was only matched by the aroma. The halibut was cooked to perfection, nicely bathed in the buttery, saffron broth, that I repeatedly dipped with my French bread. If you love Mediterranean cuisine like me, this is heaven on a plate.

B&G Oysters – 550 Tremont Street – South End Boston

In a city obsessed with seafood, Barbara Lynch’s B&G Oysters remains the uncontested best seafood restaurant (and one of only a handful) in the South End. 

Restaurant review: il Casale in Belmont

il Casale BelmontEarlier this month we went to Belmont to visit a friend and have dinner at il Casale in downtown Belmont, MA – a suburb just outside of Boston. The restaurant is part of a small restaurant group that also runs a restaurant by the same name in Lexington as well as Dante’s in Cambridge, MA.

Despite the high ceilings and large dining room, the restaurant exudes a cozy rustic vibe that is in line with the service which isn’t quite fine dining but professional and friendly; clearly this is a neighborhood favorite.  Main plates and pastas are reasonably priced – ranging in the mid $20s and pastas are all available as half portions. Upon taking our seats at a high table near the bar we were greeted by a knowledgeable waiter who took our drink order and brought us warm, homemade bread.  To compliment the bread which smelled heavenly, I ordered the burrata cheese which was heavily seasoned with pepper, oregano and candied pistachios.

il Casale Belmont

Burrata Cheese $12

The cheese was cool and creamy as one would expect and the pepper and oregano added a nice flavor, but my favorite was the crunch of the candied pistachios which alongside the drizzle of olive oil went very nicely with our warm bread. Needless to say nothing was left when our server cleared the plates.

Following my starter I had high expectations and looked forward to the special of the night which I ordered.  The homemade Mafalade came with a seasoned roasted pork shoulder ragu in olive oil sauce with peas and carrots.  The colors and aroma of this plate created were equaled by their flavor, I’m happy to say.

homemade malfade pasta

Malfade pasta with pork ragu $28

My fellow diners ordered the gnocchi and grilled cod and they echoed my sentiments about their meals.  The pastas were certainly generous portions, and I ended up bringing about a third of my meal home for left overs, which makes me think unless you are really hungry an appetizer and half portion of il Casale’s pasta is more than enough – making it an even more affordable dining option.

With warmer temperatures now gracing Boston, you can also enjoy dining al fresco at il Casale’s patio, but reservations are strongly recommended no matter when you come to dine since this place seems to be a favorite for locals.

il Casale opens daily at 4:30 PM at 50 Leonard Street in Belmont, MA
Il Casale on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Brunch at Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar

Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar South BostonMichael Conlon and Eric Aulenback who opened Lincoln to much fanfare in 2012 opened Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar on Broadway in Southie in January 2015, and this past weekend Sergio and I joined a group of friends to try their Sunday brunch. While Loco’s dinner menu serves a variety of tacos, ceviche, grilled fish, and fresh guacamole, the brunch menu adds some really delicious breakfast options worth trying and certainly unique to the neighborhood it calls home.

The brunch menu is divided into Desayuno – breakfast items; Tortas – sandwiches; and Tacos ranging from $9-$15.  We indulged in a couple of different homemade guacamole orders including one with pineapple ($12) and whipped ($12), while both were fresh, I preferred the chunkier texture of the pineapple guacamole.

Loco Brunch Southie

Omelet Con Tasso $12

Sergio opted for Loco’s Omelet Con Tasso which had cajun ham, oyster mushrooms, onions, goat cheese and was topped with pico de gallo and a side of warm tortillas. His breakfast was delicious and full of flavor, providing a nice spin on a traditional American breakfast.

Burrito de Chorizo $12

Burrito de Chorizo $12

I opted for the Burrito de Chorizo, which had two eggs over easy, potatoes, chorizo, cheese and hot sauce.  As with Sergio’s choice, my breakfast was incredibly flavorful. The runny egg and cheese combined nicely with the heartier ingredients in the burrito and paired well with the spicy Bloody Mary I ordered.

Budin de Pan $13

Budin de Pan $13

Lastly we indulged by ordering the Budin de Pan (Locos take on French Toast). This plate rocked my world and is something I will order when we next visit (because we will be back).  Two pieces of soft white bread are served crispy on the outside with cinnamon and vanilla custard, creamy cheese, fresh berries and dulce de leche, which is what you see atop this pile of decadence.

Loco Taqueria and Oyster Bar serves brunch starting at 10AM on Saturday and Sunday.  Reservations are strongly recommended.
Loco Taqueria and Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Serafina Boston

Serafina Boston, a self described modern Italian cuisine restaurant, opened in the space formerly occupied by Radius on the edge of the financial district.  The Serafina restaurant chain currently operates more than two dozen locations globally, but this marks the first location in New England so I was curious to visit the new restaurant. The muted colors and open space looked carefully thought out but the open dining space and bar only proved to make the space incredibly loud.  Our waitress practically had to shout to be heard.

The menu is moderately priced with an entire page dedicated to pizzas, that range from $13 – $25 and main plates and pastas ranging from $14-$32 with most dining options ranging from $17 – $22.

Serafina Restaurant Review

Serafina Boston Charred Octopus $16

Dinner was a bit inconsistent with our appetizer and dessert being the most memorable.  Above is a photograph of the appetizer Sergio and I shared, Charred Octopus.  The Octopus was very flavorful and not too chewy and was something I would likely order and recommend to others visiting Serafina Boston.

Restaurant review of Serafina Boston

Serafina Boston Gnocchi Di Mamma $19

Sergio’s dinner was unfortunately not as appealing.  The Gnocchi Di Mamma which he asked to have with a Bolognese sauce was disappointing.  The Gnocchi wasn’t as soft as hoped and the sauce was overly sweet. The sauce was so dissatisfying, I’d actually strongly recommend substituting the sauce for something else if it comes with your meal.

restaurant review Serafina Boston

Serafina Boston Veal Scaloppine $27

Fortunately, my meal was more appetizing.  I enjoyed the Veal Scaloppine, but it was not particularly memorable and if I come back I would probably focus on Serafina’s long list of pizzas, hoping for better luck and finding something as satisfying as our appetizer or dessert which I will slightly obsess over now.

restaurant review serafina boston

Serafina Boston Focaccia Nutella $16

The meal started on a high point with the Charred Octopus and it concluded on a similar note thanks to the incredibly decadent dessert, Focaccia Nutella, which sandwiches thinly sliced strawberries with a healthy spread of Nutella and capped by a thin foccaccia-like bread that is sprinkled with powdered sugar and sliced much like a pizza pie.

I’ll give Serafina Boston a pass for the mezza mezza dining experience since they have only been open for a month.  For anyone hosting events it is worth noting that the restaurant features nice private dining and function space on the lower level. Serafina Boston is located at 10 High Street in downtown Boston.

Serafina on Urbanspoon


Restaurant review: Amber India (Yerba Buena – SF)

restaurant review, san francisco, indianOn a recent business trip to California, I found myself with a spare evening before flying home so I decided to try an Indian restaurant between Mission and Market Streets called Amber India.  Large glass windows allowed me to look into a sleek dining room and comfortable lounge so I opted to check it out; preferring the bar over the larger dining room so I could people watch while eating.  The people watching proved to be a bust; nobody that interesting despite the bustling lounge but my seat was very comfortable and the service was excellent.

Amber India San Francisco, Yerba Buena

Amber India Yerba Buena Tandoori Chicken and Onion Chilli Kulcha

Apparently Amber India has five different locations but this is the only one in San Francisco and as near as I can tell it opened back in 2011.  It is conveniently located next to the Four Seasons Hotel in a small promenade that is home to several other restaurants as well.  There is a separate bar menu comprised of shared appetizers, but you can order from the main menu that ranges between $16-$19 for vegetarian dishes and $23 – $30 for most of their other plates.

San Francisco, SOMA restaurant

Amber India Yerba Buena Tandori Chicken for $21.95

I chose the Tandoori Chicken ($21.95) which comes out hissing and steaming on a black iron skillet.  The smell of the meat, seasoning and onions instantly set my mouth watering.  The party seated next to me actually paused when the plate was served – such was the noise and heady aroma.  I also chose to order their Onion Chilli Kulcha ($7.00); Naan bread stuffed with onions and chilli.  This was delicious and the perfect accompaniment to the sauces served with dinner.

I really liked everything about my dining experience at Amber India.  The staff was prompt and friendly – answering all my questions about their menu.  The food was really delicious – rich with flavor and beautiful in appearance.  My only disappointment was after my visit I read a few reviews that made me realize if I’m fortunate enough to return I should try their signature plate, Butter Chicken.

Amber India is located SOMA at 25 Yerba Buena Lane 415-777-0500

  Amber India on Urbanspoon

Metropolis Cafe gets a makeover

Aquitaine GroupNearly fifteen years ago Metropolis Cafe opened in the South End on Tremont Street.  The quaint neighborhood restaurant has been a favorite place to grab brunch on the weekends and dinner in the evenings.

If you’ve not visited Metropolis Cafe recently you may want to make a point to stop by.  Last fall the restaurant underwent a makeover and the space looks great. A larger white marble bar top and new bar stools are welcome updates as are the new lighting fixtures and color scheme that significantly brightens the restaurant without losing that cozy feel.  Alongside the physical changes some tweaks have also been made to the menu and Chef William “Billy” Nurse, continues to crank out consistently delicious meals from what might be the smallest kitchen in the South End.

Restaurant review Cinquecento

CinquecentoIt has been quite awhile since I last wrote a restaurant review of The Aquitaine Group’s Cinquecento, but earlier this month Sergio and I grabbed dinner at the bar and we had such a good time I wanted to write about it.

Cinquecento has been successful since first opening in 2012. It probably helps that they have ample free parking, a nice patio (for the warmer months) and is easily accessible from the Mass Pike and I-93.  However, that only gets you so far if you don’t have good staff and a talented kitchen – fortunately they have it all.

Italian Restaurant bostonThe menu is exclusively Italian as you might imagine with antipasti, soups and salads ranging in price from $10-$17; homemade pastas $22-$29; fish & meat plates $26-$38. On our recent visit we started dinner with the Burrata con Pistachio ($13.75) as well as the Steak Tartar ($15.75). The Burrata was cool and creamy and paired nicely with the soft figs, creating a surprisingly nice combination of sweet and creamy textures and flavors.

Cinquecento BostonHowever, I was most surprised by the Steak Tartar that was recommended.  The cubed steak was savory and would make for a great option if you want to come in for a snack.  The plate would pair equally well with wine or beer.

Italian restaurant BostonFor dinner Sergio ordered one of his favorite plates, the house made Gnocchi ($24.50) which is shown above, and I splurged, ordering the Aragosta Arrosto ($38.50) shown below.  I had thought I was ordering the lobster and pasta in a fra diavolo sauce but the Aragosta Arrosto was more flavorful than spicy with only a hint of pepper.  Those looking for more heat to the sauce should probably make such a request when ordering.  Having said that, the dinner exceeded my expectations. There was plenty of lobster from the tail and it was cooked perfectly. The pairing of the rich sauce, lobster meat and homemade pasta was so good that Sergio repeatedly poached food from my plate when I wasn’t looking.

Italian restaurant BostonIf you would like to try Cinquecento, I highly recommend making reservations for dinner on weekends. On weekdays you can usually get seats easily enough as a walk in at the bar or in the dining room.  Cinquecento is located at 500 Harrison Avenue in the South End.
Cinquecento on Urbanspoon

¡Hola! Barcelona Wine (South End)

South End restaurantLast night one of the South End’s most eagerly anticipated restaurants had a soft opening.  Upon entering Barcelona South End, patrons will see a large (26-seat) horseshoe shaped white marble bar that opens to the kitchen behind it.  The sterile modern decor of its predecessor is gone – replaced by dark wood ceilings and floors that contrast with the white marble bar and subway tile along the back wall.

The tapas menu will offer plenty of temptations at an affordable price with most items ranging $6-$10.  If you want more than tapas their menu has Paella, Meat & Fish and Mixed Grilled options ranging from $19 – $25.  The cocktail menu and wine list are equally inviting, which makes me think this will become a favorite watering hole for locals looking for a place where they can catch up with friends and nibble on a few bites during the week.

The bar staff was knowledgeable and clearly excited to be open for business, reinforcing an already friendly atmosphere.  The food we tried was quite good but sadly our photos didn’t do the food justice enough so I promise to go back for a more thorough sampling.  Look for Barcelona to open in the coming days.

Barcelona – 525 Tremont Street – (617) 266 2600

Restaurant review: Bastille Kitchen

Bastille Kitchen BostonBastille Kitchen is a 270 seat French bistro that opened on Melcher Street in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood of Boston this past summer.   The restaurant feels very open – in part due to the large windows, exposed brick walls and light wood floors, tables and ceilings.  The bar / lounge area is also fairly spacious – capable of seating at the bar and in comfortable lounge furniture 40+ people.

We were celebrating a friend’s birthday on this occasion and while I didn’t try everything served, I was impressed with the service and enjoyed my food.  The menu starts with more than a dozen appetizers to choose from ranging in price from $10-$22; house made flatbreads $15-$18; fruits de mer which range in price according to market; entrees and local sustainable seafood $18-$42.

Fort Point Channel restaurantWhile my dining companions each tried the escargots ($15) and duck confit ($14), I opted for the frisee aux lardons ($14) and was very happy with my choice.  The savory salad was rich and flavorful. The poached egg’s yolk was delicious with the duck confit – which you can see was served with generous portions.   While my companions enjoyed the duck confit appetizer, the escargot (which I didn’t try) was described by both as bland and disappointing.Fort Point Channel Restaurant, BostonMy main course was the roast lamb shank ($29).  The dinner came served in a skillet with tomatoes, an eggplant pave and herb grits.  This was an incredibly hardy meal and very filling.  The lamb was cooked perfectly; falling from the bone with hardly any effort. The accompanying sauce and herb grits complemented the rich flavors of the lamb and despite the large serving I ate everything. Fort Point Channel restaurant, BostonFort Point Channel restaurant, Boston

Above are the dinners of my dining companions. The top image is the Beef Short Rib Wellington $38 and the image immediately above is the Hampshire Pork Au Poivre served on the bone for $28.  Both said they enjoyed their dinners and would order it again when they return.

Bastille Kitchen is open daily but reservations are strongly recommended. Bastille Kitchen is located at 49 Melcher Street, Boston, (617) 556-8000.
Bastille Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Bar Boulud Boston

eater Boston photo

Photo Source: EaterBoston

Bar Boulud Boston opened in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Back Bay in October 2014.  The decor is quite different from the previous restaurant and made me think of a wine cellar or wine barrel with the oak coloring and arched ceilings. The bar area has also expanded and is far more comfortable than Mbar.

After reading the Boston Globe’s disappointing review, 2 stars out of 4, I didn’t know quite what to expect but after dining there I think the review was unnecessarily harsh. However, I do agree that Boston’s iteration of Boulud doesn’t live up to the reputation or name. It wasn’t as if I didn’t like my food – quite the contrary, it was very good – it just wasn’t the amazing experience I was expecting.

However, for those eager to try a new high end French restaurant, Bar Boulud should certainly be on your radar.  The menu is comprised of House Pates ranging from $14-$23; Fruits De Mer, Soup and Salads which range significantly in price from $12 – $38; Main plates are divided into Pasta, Fish and Meat ranging in price from $17 – $37; and two burgers that seem somewhat out of place unless you might be in the bar are on the dinner menu $17 and $19 respectively.

Salade Provencal $15

Salade Provençal $15

My colleagues ordered Foie Gras, Escargots and Oysters.  I ordered the Salade Provencal ($15) and while it may seem quite basic, the presentation was beautiful and I really enjoyed the crisp greens, cheese, croutons and anchovy vinaigrette. The table seemed to approve of their choices and when the plates were removed to make space for our main dishes there were only crumbs remaining.

Mandarin Boston

Coq au Vin $29

It was a cold, blustery night when we visited Bar Boulud so I looked to one of the menu’s heartier options and settled on the Coq au Vin for $29.  The chicken was rich and flavorful with the red wine, and I used the handmade pasta to absorb and scoop much of that sauce. I love this meal in the winter and while it wasn’t the best I’d ever had, it was good enough that I would encourage others to try it.  The aroma of the plate with the chicken, herbs and wine was intoxicating.  I suppose it is a testament to my dinner that I was so distracted by the coq au vin that I failed to snap photos of what my colleagues’ ordered.

While I’d recommend Bar Boulud to anyone interested in trying it, the service was at times slow and sloppy (repeatedly spilling water).  Nothing that happened was a deal breaker but nothing captured my imagination or lived up to the hype either. Should you go, let me know your thoughts.

Bar Boulud Boston is at 776 Boylston Street  (617) 535-8800

Bar Boulud on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Mistral Bistro in Boston

Columbus Hospitality GroupMistral first opened in Boston’s South End in the late 1990s, and has been a personal favorite for as long as I can recall.  I regularly recommend this restaurant to friends and family looking for a special night out but I had never visited them for their Sunday brunch – until a week ago.

Mistral opens for brunch on Sunday at 10:30 and when we arrived at 10:45 the space was already a third full with more people filing in behind us.  Despite the obvious rush, the staff was kind, courteous and quick to greet everyone as they came in, collect their coats and identify reservations.

The Mistral brunch menu is exceedingly tempting so we nibbled on the warm muffins that came with an addicting apple butter spread, while we looked through our options and discussed what we wanted to try.  Their menu consists of starters like warm cinnamon buns that require 15 minutes to bake fresh as well as unique items like truffled devil eggs; thin crust pizzas; and of course main dishes – which include both sweet and savory options.

Mistral Boston

Mistral’s Grapefruit Sabayon

I opted to try a special that day, grapefruit sabayon.  Sabayon is the creamy looking custard in the photo above and it is made with egg yolk, sugar and a sweet wine. Mistral’s recipe includes Champagne and the combination of this saucy/custard drizzled over the fresh grapefruit was so addicting even Sergio was digging in (and he doesn’t like grapefruit) a fact he kept saying while he scooped chunks of the appetizer off the plate.

Mistral Boston French Toast

Graham Cracker Crusted Challah French Toast with Anjou Pears and Chantilly

While Sergio’s brunch option was visually more impressive, both items were beautifully presented and equally satisfying. Sergio’s order of Mistral’s Graham Cracker Crusted Challah French Toast with Anjou Pears and Chantilly must have been 4″ thick.  The French Toast came with a warmed bottle of real maple syrup that smelled and tasted delicious but in truth was hardly necessary with the powdered sugar and pears.

Mistral Boston Frittata and potatos

Mushroom Spinach and Gruyere Frittata and a side of Pommes Lyonnaise

My order of the Mushroom Spinach and Gruyere Frittata and Pommes Lyonnaise were presented in hot black skillets.  The frittata was light and flavorful — anyone who enjoys mushrooms would want to try this plate — and the Pommes Lyonnaise offered a nice contrast to the eggs; salty and crispy.  While the potatoes were meant to be shared, poor Sergio hardly got more than a bite.

As you can probably surmise from my write up, I would recommend trying Mistral’s brunch, but I’d strongly suggest making a reservation first.  Mistral is located at 223 Columbus Avenue in the South End.
Mistral on Urbanspoon