Restaurants & Bars

Boston Area

Excelsior, Boylston Street, Boston

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Restaurants & Bars 2

Excelsior, Boylston Street, Boston

Limster | May 30, 2003 12:46 AM

Having read a few posts about this place, I decided to try it for myself.

The dishes are straightforward in their classic flavour combinations, nothing exotic or exceptionally creative. But the kitchen's handling of good ingredients is outstanding. The result is food cooked exactly, the right silky or crisp textures.

The fried soft shell crab was tremendously juicy; sweet clear crab flavour that benefited from some aioli and what seemed to me might be some chopped herbs of some sort, almost like a pesto (forgive my memory lapse). On the side, sweet fresh cooked crabmeat with its coral flavours is effectively paired with tiny dice of onions and fat avocado, and cilantro or parsley. Lovely sweet sharp Australian Semillion made a great match. (I left the wine choices to the sommelier.)

Pigeon is gently sauced with pan juices, borrowing some aromatics from rosemary, and complemented with bluntly crunchy morels. There's a musky polenta on the side, served in a tiny sauce pot, full of flavours from what seemed like mushrooms or truffles. The pigeon is extraordinary, perfectly seared, leaving a ruby complexion in both the slices of breast and the thighs and a firm, but tender texture, melting uniformly, almost like an excellent piece of medium fat maguro. Well paired with a glass of Pinot Noir, dusky, deep, and strudy fruit.

The elderfruit tea I got was round, beautiful, an evenly balanced tea, slipping down with ease.

Vanilla was prominent in the exceedingly smooth vanilla-saffron ice cream, but the saffron needed a bigger voice. Excellent pinenut brittles, thin to the point of translucence. Ice cream worked very well with dark ripe cherries and whipped cream that was light as air.

On the whole, I think the high quality of the cooking justifies the rather high price tag (entrees >$30), but it's no bargain by any means. For a place of this calibre, there was a slight sloppiness in plating and presentation (e.g. polenta spilled on the pot handle and side of the place) but it's a superficial concern. I'll probably come by again to try their tasting menu.

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