A long overdue review of our weekend in Boston this fall (from Nov 6th 2017):
Went for the Bruins game, stayed for the food. That’s sort of how our weekend went. We were lucky enough to land great tickets for the Bruins game on Saturday night and so we headed to Boston for the weekend. Sadly, the Bruins lost 3-2 to the Washington Capitals but the game gave us a great excuse to check out a number of new and old favorites in one of the best cities in the world.
I’ve been thinking about the dinner we had at Asta on Friday night for days. I’m conflicted and I’ve changed my mind about it more times than I can count.
Let’s start with the positives: the food was tasty, well done, and beautifully plated. There were some unique menu items, like delicious dip-stick mushrooms with beans and some expected classics, like Lobster in a Small Pot…
Unlike most tasting menu restaurants, Asta lets you choose different menu options for the table so we were able to do both the 5 and 8 course tasting with wine and the foie gras add on, which by the way was the best dish of the night. The wine (and occasional beer) pairing was spot on and our serve did a good job talking us through each dish and pairing.
So you might ask, why so conflicted? It sounds great, right?
Well, here’s the thing: I found a rather large piece of plastic in my first dish. Not a great mood starter and certainly not something you’d expect from a restaurant with this sort of reputation. But I get it, mistakes happen.
The problem is that the plastic wasn’t the only “attention to detail” issue. The service pacing was… disjointed, at best. At one point there was a solid 30 or so minute lag between courses – our wonderful waitress did her best to cover but it was obvious that there was an issue. Then, when the long delayed course finally did arrive it was the same dish we’d already been served. The waitress quickly realized it, scrambled the kitchen staff, and within 15 minutes had the correct course brought out but it mix-up was noticeable.
Now, I get it – restaurants can be tricky beasts. That said, there were only 3 or 4 other parties there at the time and my instinct says at the price ($110 for 8 courses +$60 for wine), and given that they’ve been around for a few years, it’s ok to expect something closer to a seamless service.
So, like I said, my thoughts on Asta are mixed. Some highlights and some low spots. That said, in a city of this size and so many options, I don’t think I’ll be lining up to get back to Asta.
Now if Asta gets a few demerits for struggling despite being around for a few years then we MUST give Eventide bonus points for the impressive and efficient operation they’re running outside of Fenway after only a few months.
We’re not totally new to Eventide – we’ve been frequent customers of their Portland, ME location for years – but it’s simply outstanding to see them already having success at their second location, just down the block from Fenway Park.
Like a good New England seafood joint, there’s no unnecessary fanfare, no white table cloths and tuxedoed wait-staff to distract you from subpar food. Just fresh, clean, ocean-y deliciousness.
The tuna crudo was the real deal, I’d stack it up against any similar preparation at a high-end Japanese restaurant – and this was served on a paper plate at a lunch counter. We also had some tasty pork belly, classic brussels with bacon, and the always dependable Eventide lobster roll (check your image of the all-too-often excessive mayo approach at the door).
Three thumbs up folks, well done.
So here’s the thing – I don’t WANT to love Island Creek. I don’t know why, but from the very beginning there was always something about it that just seemed “fake” to me. That said, I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong – and I’ve always been wrong about Island Creek. The food’s great, the variety and quality of the oysters is impressive, and the drinks are delicious. What’s not to like?
This visit to Island Creek was for Sunday Brunch – still nursing a pretty serious post Bruins game hangover. I think I ordered my first Bloody Mary before the host had shown us all the way to the table. We quickly dove into the oysters, ordering a healthy collection of different varieties. Then we moved on to a smoked salmon pate with rye toasts that was just perfect. Honestly, order it when you go – or at least just get the rye toasts, trust me.
Fish tacos, fish and chips, and a few Bloody Marys later and I was ready to be rolled to the door. But hey, I don’t get to New England that often so when I do I simply can’t help but load up on seafood.*
*Small caveat: In the interest of being honest – don’t judge – but despite gorging myself on seafood for brunch I still found time to hit up Regina’s Pizza (best ever, don’t argue) and Mike’s Pastry (don’t leave comments about Modern… I know and I don’t care). I’d leave longer write-ups about these places, but I’m worried that’d encourage you to go and the lines will just get longer for everyone else (read: me).