Tag Archives: Restaurant Review

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

 

Petsi Pies bakery review (chocolate lovers edition)

sweets, chocolate, bakery, dessertLast Saturday I watched Unique Sweets on The Cooking Channel (locally that is Ch-239).  This episode was dedicated to all things chocolate and included a local pie shop with stores in Somerville and East Cambridge called Petsi Pies.

Living in the South End, I’ve become spoiled by all the great bakeries in my nearby so I went to check out Petsi Pies to see if it lived up to the hype.  In the name of ‘research’, I purchased some of their most popular chocolate goodies.

Whoopie Pie CupcakeThe Whoopie Pie Cupcake includes a decadent chocolate ganache frosting and whipped cream filling that reminds me more of gourmet hostess cupcake than a whoopie pie, but don’t take that as a complaint.  Upon biting into this treat I promptly had to pour myself a large cup of milk.  I can see how these could be incredibly addicting. This is a must try for cupcake lovers.

Petsi PiesThe Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie was too enticing not to try and turned out to be my favorite item purchased.  The Bourbon is subtly infused into the soft chocolate filling and not overpowering at all.  My favorite thing about this pie is the mixture of the filling and crushed pecans generously sprinkled on the top. I think this probably would go best with a large dollop of fresh whipped cream and should replace traditional pecan pies.

Petsi PiesThe Mississippi Mud Pie is for the person who believes there is no such thing as too much chocolate. The dark, thin pie crust tastes like a crushed chocolate cookies.  And that pie crust is necessary to hold all the gooey, chocolate brownie-like batter that is piled on top of it.  However, just to make certain a chocolate-induced food coma will ensue Petsi Pies then tops the filling with chunks of chocolate brownie and drizzles it with chocolate ganache.

All told, I have to say that Pesti Pies did live up to the hype and is worth visiting. If you like this type of ‘reasearch’ let me know, and I’ll continue this important work; ignoring my ever expanding waistline.  Is there a bakery or pastry shop you love in the Boston area you think I should check it out?  Let me know.

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

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