Few restaurants have been operating in the South End as long as Aquitaine, which briefly closed in the winter of 2016 to remodel the 20 year old space. If you have not visited since they reopened, make it a point to stop by.
The most notable changes include a private dining section in the space formerly occupied by the tiny wine bar, moving the redesigned 11-seat pewter bar to the left of the newly monogrammed floor entrance and replacing the black and burgundy color scheme with French oak paneling and brass antique lighting. The redesign also modernized Aquitaine’s kitchen, which I am happy to say continues to crank-out good French cuisine.
Sergio started his meal with escargot but sadly the dim lighting which adds to the dining experience makes it a challenge to photograph using an iPhone (despite however much Apple claims how wonderful their camera is) so sadly no photo of Sergio’s starter. However, I started with the Brussels Sprouts Lyonnaise ($15) which also includes kale, a poached egg and a warm bacon vinaigrette. The key to this dish is the poached egg which was perfectly cooked so the yolk coated the greens and complemented the salty flavoring of the vinaigrette.
On this most recent visit Sergio ordered the Parisian Gnocchi Fricassee ($26), which includes braised rabbit, summer squash and tomatoes. The gnocchi was soft and absorbed much of the flavors imparted by the rabbit and broth. Sergio gave the plate mixed reviews, which I think was partly due to the rabbit which I don’t think he is 100% comfortable eating. Sergio prefers white meat so I give him bonus points for venturing outside his typical dining preferences (it is a testament to how much he loves gnocchi).
I opted for Aquitaine’s Pan Roasted Rohen Duck Breast ($30) which is served over swiss chard and a bigarade sauce (a brown sauce flavored with the juice and grated rind of oranges) and sprinkled with pistachios. This is a very hearty meal and one perfectly suited for the fall months. The duck was prepared perfectly, enhancing the rich flavors from my first plate, creating a savory one-two punch.
We opted to splurge and order profiteroles for dessert, which are served as a trio coated with a healthy dollop of thick chocolate and filled with a creamy vanilla ice cream. While I sipped what remained of my wine, Sergio thoroughly enjoyed this dessert, which he split with a friend who joined us for dinner.
Aquitaine remains a solid dining option in a neighborhood that has more than its share of restaurants. Twenty-plus years later the service at Aquitaine remains consistently excellent and the food continues to tempt. Aquitaine is open seven days a week for dinner. Lunch is offered Monday – Friday and brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday.
529 Tremont Street || (617) 424-8577