Monday, November 17, 2008

A Summer Night's Dream

A summer dinner at Blue Hill Stone Barns is an exercise in patience, anticipation and trust. If you can manage this, you will be handsomely rewarded. The privilege is afforded only to those who manage to snag a hard-earned reservation by calling exactly 60 days before the desired dinner date and maintaining a level of persistence that pierces through the wall of busy signals likely to be encountered. So, naturally, having been tapped as one of the lucky ones, we headed into this birthday dinner with a high level of excitement.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

O Ya? Oh Yeah!

It's tough to keep up with all the new restaurants constantly opening in New York and Boston, but close reading of various blogs and review sites helps. Sooner or later, the same names begin to show up across the board. And it becomes apparent that certain places are garnering special attention. Deserved or not, depends on which source one trusts or, even better, on personal experience.

When the New York Times restaurant critic, Frank Bruni, shocked me by naming his Number One restaurant outside of New York City as a little place called O Ya in Boston, I decided it was time to check in on it myself. I'd seen the name pop up here and there; up to that point I basically only knew that it was an expensive sushi place in downtown Boston with some good reviews from diners. But I hadn't had much of an urge to try it out because there were already a tier of good sushi restaurants that I regularly turned to. When it comes to sushi, I find that after a certain price point (where I know the fish is fresh and safe, and I've found it to be tasty) my palette cannot distinguish a large difference in the quality that makes me feel it is worth paying much more. I'm going to put it out there now that, hands down, the food at O Ya is worth the price.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Lesson in Gluttony

Not only do I live and love to eat, I value the memory of all that I've eaten, so that I may share with others the things I have devoured and so that the smells and tastes and memories stay with me!

So here is a chronicle of a food-filled weekend in Boston with my cohorts mcgillicuddy and chickiecc (I think I may have hit their limits of eating or come close to it! I on the other hand don't seem to have any! :p)

Friday, March 21, 2008

An Appreciation of Taste

I not long ago finally had a chance to dine at one outpost - Degustation - of the curious Lamb empire. In addition to Degustation, Jack and Grace Lamb own Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar and Jewel Bako (which neighbors Degustation and shares a corridor with it). The space that Degustation now occupies has gone through several incarnations over the past few years, finally settling on its current identity - a tiny, stylish tapas bar. By tiny, we are talking about 15 seats and no more, situated in an intimate half-rectangle around the "kitchen". Dining here is not just about the food, but about the experience of eating as well (one best shared in pairs or as three at most).

On this particular night we were the first to arrive and were seated right in the center, where we could observe all the action from one end to the other. Though small, it was hard to keep up with all that was going on behind the counter -between the three cooks and the waitress there was a lot going on! The other seats quickly filled in soon after we sat down.

We each started with a nice glass of white wine - their glasses are quite reasonably priced with several around $7 or $8. The evening's meal can be done a la carte or as a chef's tasting menu - either in five courses or ten. The five-course tasting menu is just a selection of dishes that are already on the menu, while the ten-course menu consists of dishes that the chef has chosen to create for that night. A couple beside us went with the ten-course tasting menu and while we didn't keep track of everything they got, the dishes for the most part looked inventive and interesting and included ingredients not seen elsewhere on the printed menu.

We decided to choose our own courses. By the end of our meal we had ordered seven dishes. Because the food comes fairly quickly, it is easy enough to start off with a few dishes and order more as you go along, though catching the one waitress as she shuffles up and down the line may be a bit tough.(There are also two other people on the outside edge helping to clear dishes and bring new silverware - which comes fresh after each dish, perhaps a little too formal and unnecessary.) One of the dishes we had (the croquettas) was a later addition, because we had seen several orders of it go out and they looked too good to pass up.

But back to the beginning.