Tag Archives: Restaurant Review

Restaurant review: Bar Boulud Boson

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

Restaurant review: Sam’s at Louis Boston

Sams at Louis BostonLocated above Louis Boston, Sam’s might have one of the nicest waterfront views, making it a great place for a date night. However, the casual vibe and friendly staff also make it a good place to try for an after work drink or bite if you are in the neighborhood.

Sam’s at Louis Boston decor can best be described as minimalist and modern.  Large glass windows overlooking their equally large deck and Boston’s waterfront is framed by the steel panes and furnishings giving the restaurant an open and modern vibe.  Indoors only can seat about 40 (plus approximately 10 at the bar), but in the warmer weather their second floor patio more than doubles their capacity and is available on a first come first serve basis.

Roasted Beets $9

Roasted Beets $9

Sam’s dinner menu includes snacks and starters that range from $7-$17 and main plates from $16-$35.  I would describe the menu as modern American.  I started dinner with Sam’s roasted beets that had goat cheese (they call goat butter) and nuts. It came out piping hot in an individual skillet that hissed and crackled like a fajita, and was delicious from start to finish.  I chose a great Spanish red wine that really enhanced flavor of the warm beets and made me even more hungry for dinner.

Herb Roasted Chicken $27

Herb Roasted Chicken $27

Our handsome server timed our meals beautifully and a few minutes after he cleared our plates my herb roasted chicken arrived on a bed of baby brussels sprouts with apple-chestnut stuffing and Madeira jus. The chicken was tender and flavorful and I’m happy to say I managed to eat every last bite.

I can’t believe it took me so long to try Sam’s  but I will be back.  I’d recommend trying it on a weeknight when it is easier to get a table or encourage you to make a reservation to avoid a long wait.  Sam’s is located above Louis Boston at 60 Northern Avenue (behind the Vertex Pharmaceuticals building).
Sam's on Urbanspoon

Dinner at ester in Dorchester

Writing this blog has perks and last week was a great example. I was invited to the Lower Mills neighborhood in Dorchester to meet one of the owners of ester, Eleanor Arpino, and check out this relatively new restaurant.

Antonia's Meatballs $6.50 and Meat Board $11

Antonia’s Meatballs $6.50                                  Meat Board $11

ester is a neighborhood restaurant trying to make a name for itself and be a part of the community it so proudly named itself after.  Their menu showcases the produce they collect each week from their 5,000 sq foot rooftop garden to let you know what ingredients are homegrown (literally).

Sirloin 1/2 Pound Burger w/ Bacon Jam $15.50

Sirloin 1/2 Pound Burger w/ Bacon Jam $15.50

Their menu is reasonably priced, including snacks and appetizers ranging in from $5-$11; soups and salads $7-$8 and main plates $14-$21.  The cocktail menu, wine list and beers are equally affordable; the beer list in particular is impressive with 32 options on draft and bottle.

Risotto with their rooftop cherry tomatoes $12

Risotto with their rooftop cherry tomatoes $12

I would like to thank Eleanor Arpino and chef Estabon Gallego for their gracious invitation and wish them much success.  Despite the fact that their massive back deck will close for the winter season, I’d encourage neighbors to check out the 17-seat bar or come down and try dinner in their spacious dining room.

Boneless Berkshire Roasted Pork Loin $21

Boneless Berkshire Roasted Pork Loin $21

ester is located at 2261 Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester Center.

Restaurant review: Roost Bistro

Roost Bistro on Newbury StreetRoost Bistro is a cozy restaurant on Newbury Street between Fairfield and Gloucester Street that opened in the spring of 2014.

I stumbled upon Roost Bistro when I was perusing OpenTable.com for a list of available restaurants for brunch with my friend Tracey who happens to write the blog 40-Something Life.

First impressions of this new bistro were good.  I liked the tiny two tiered patio overlooking Newbury Street and inside had a cozy vibe with lots of natural sunlight and colorful walls contrasted by exposed brick.  The brunch menu is also really reasonable with most items ranging between $10-$12.

Roost Bistro on Newbury StreetFor this first visit I kept my order short and sweet, zeroing in on Spanish Omelette which was generously stuffed with chorizo and caramelized onions and had a side of potatoes.  I won’t rave about the food because it wasn’t that kind of meal, but it was definitely tasty and has intrigued me enough to want to go back and try the bistro for dinner. Add this to your list of new places to try and let me know your thoughts. My only caveat would be the restaurant was clearly understaffed, making it tough to get coffee or our check, but since it was a pleasant morning, we filled the time people watching and chatting with each other.

Roost Bistro is located at 259 Newbury Street and open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday starting at 10:30am.
Roost Bistro on Newbury on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Nizza Hell’s Kitchen

Nizza Hell's Kitchen NYCNizza is a cozy space located in NYC Hell’s Kitchen on Ninth Avenue.  The night I was there Nizza had a young crowd and nice energy that reminded me of some of my favorite brasseries – except Nizza’s menu is 100% Italian.  It probably didn’t hurt that bartender, Tom, was easy on the eyes, friendly and made excellent dinner suggestions.

Italian restaurant, Nizza NYCNizza’s menu is very approachable with pizzas, pastas and main dishes ranging from $13-$23.  I started dinner with Tom’s suggestion, eggplant involtini ($11.25). The dish comes with four thinly sliced roasted eggplant that are stuffed with ricotta and herbs.  It is shown above with focaccia bread and olive oil served with a generous dollop of ricotta. The eggplant was cooked perfectly and is something I would regularly order if I lived in the neighborhood.

Nizza Hell's Kitchen NYCI love spicy pizza so Tom suggested I try the “Piccante” ($14.75).  This pizza didn’t disappoint and the heat gave me an excuse to order a second glass of wine.  The pizza comes with tomato, spicy Italian sausage, roasted hot peppers, smoked mozzarella and fresh basil.   It was the roasted hot peppers that really added the heat so have them hold the peppers if you’d prefer something less spicy. A sure sign that I enjoyed the dinner was the self-induced food coma that followed from me over eating.

If out in Hell’s Kitchen and looking for a nice place to grab a bite that has good energy and is reasonably priced, I’d definitely suggest trying Nizza at 630 Ninth Avenue.
Nizza on Urbanspoon

San Francisco restaurant declares war on Yelp

Botto Bistro San FranciscoBotto Bistro, an Italian restaurant in the San Francisco area, claims that Yelp is basically the equivalent of the online mafia. Co-owner Davide Cerretini claims that after he stopped advertising on Yelp their reviews turned negative and a positive review even vanished.

Fed up with Yelp, Cerretini decided to do the unthinkable and aspire to be the worst reviewed restaurant on the site; going so far as to offer 25% off to customers who left a one-star review. Suffice it to say that Yelp is not pleased and has resulted in the online site to send a threatening email.  However that has not stopped them.  Check out their website it is hilarious, bottobistro.com.

Cerretini said to the SF Gate “I don’t have anything against Yelp. The idea is fantastic, but the blackmailing thing is ferocious,” says Cerretini. “I think I should be the one deciding if I’m on the site or not. At least I can be there on my terms. The only power they have is they make you reliable to them. So, I’m going to be one of the most unreliable restaurants.”

“I want to be the worst restaurant there is in the Bay Area,” he says. “I think this is the best business move I have made in years.”

Some of these Yelp reviews are pretty entertaining.

Botto Bistro San Francisco
Thanks for the tip  Todd.  You can read more here.