We arrived early and were given a warm welcome by two hostesses and a host who offered to take our coats. We made our way to the bar, a scene which was packed with couples and singles dining on massive hamburgers and shoestring fries. The bartender wasted no time handing us a clipboard of libations.
I was quick to make up my mind, knowing I could have ordered and loved anyone of those brilliant sounding cocktails. I chose the Ardoise, described on the menu as: Aromatic and Refreshing a blend of Sage, Rain, Juniper and Lime.Watching the bartender adorn the finishing touches, a sage leaf is slapped something fierce in between the palm of her hands and the glass is rimmed with the garnish before she delicately places it in the drink. The whole "performance" aspect is rather entertaining. These bartenders mean business. The rows of bitters, elixirs and infusions further indicated the seriousness of the cocktail program. I was in awe.
Shortly after a few sips of our cocktails we were seated promptly at 10:30. I love to take in each and every aspect to anywhere new, so I was happy to be lead across the restaurant, past the sprawling open kitchen, to a table for two in the back corner of the dining room. A white exposed brick wall fronts the room with a collage of funky mirrors and black frames housing old school French paraphernalia. Having spent three weeks in France this past September, I was drawn to the collages and overall polished bistro vibe. Our waiter was pleasant and made sure we knew all of our options ($75 prix fix; choose from any appetizer or entree on the menu, as well as six or ten course chef tasting menus.) I’m a huge fan of prix fix, however my instincts told me to stick with the a la carte menu.
The Ragoût of Local Forest Mushrooms appetizer was chosen mainly due to the fact that I have been dying to try anything with a poached egg. The House-Made Rabbit Sausage wasn’t hurting its cause either. This course did not disappoint, in fact, it was pretty unbelievable.
It was everything I imagined it would be and more, from the intense meld of flavors to the feeling experienced as I cut into the farm fresh egg, exposing the runny yolk to seep into the dish. It's the little things...
This dish left me salivating and the entrée up next did not disappoint. I ordered the Vermont Organic Pork Three Ways: Crispy Suckling Confit, Spice-Crusted Rib, Grilled Belly.
I’ve always been a big pork fan and never in my life has pork tasted so good. The rest of the dish boasts red quinoa, autumn olives, pear purée and winter farm vegetables. These components all served to compliment the rich pork and presentation wise created a stunning dish. My date’s entrée which I sampled was the All Natural Hangar Steak a la Poele.Yes those would be steakhouse sweet potato fries, along with creamed spinach, roasted bone marrow and corned beef cheek. We also shared a side of Brussels Sprouts cooked in duck fat, which were beyond amazing.
This food is so incredibly rich! Rich in flavor, yet delicately prepared. Chef Tony Maws embraces local cuisine and is a master of refined cooking techniques. The dishes consumed tonight rank superior in my book. I’m in picture-taking, plate-cleaning heaven! Did I forget to mention I ordered another cocktail? This gem is called Northern Lights described as crisp smoked Edlerflower meets Douglas Fir.
With a mash up of St. Germain, Scotch, citrus and Bittermens bitters it was potent yet balanced.It was perfect timing as the clock struck 12:00 (my day of birth, its official!) and we ordered dessert. I’m a coffee drinker all the way but the tea menu was calling my name tonight. I chose a non-caffeinated pot of Savon.Oh, hello beautiful dessert of Peanut Butter Parfait with banana foam.How on earth does one make foam from a banana? It tasted just like the real thing! This was exceptional. A Trio of Sorbets was also ordered featuring flavors of blood orange, grapefruit and apple with candied rhubarb, kumquat and fennel. The icing on the cake right there. (Apologies for the blurry photograph, it's late and I seemed to have lost my touch!)
This Birthday dinner venture across the Charles was well worth that cab ride back to Boston and then some!!
853 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02139