Restaurants & Bars

Boston Area

Fireplace in Washington Square

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Restaurants & Bars 2

Fireplace in Washington Square

nomadfromcincy | Apr 19, 2004 08:57 AM

To start, let me caveat this review with an admission - I think I ordered poorly. Not only did I pick items that weren't great, I also picked similar items. And to caveat the caveat, our waiter recommended the dishes I ordered, so I am gonna share the blame with him. Needless to say, I would be surprised if other folks have had good meals here.

Let me start with a positive - I really like their space. It is elegant, the earthy colors prevent it from being too moderne, the open kitchen is always a good touch, and I like that the bar area is separated by a small set of stairs. And there are big windows to watch the people go by. And they have high ceilings. All of this without being noisy.

On to the food. I wasn't starving, so I decided to order two appetizers. I had heard good things about the fried oysters, so I tried those. Then I was going to try the special, a duck sausage. But the waiter convinced me the portion would be too small and recommended the fried squid. Of course he was just thinking on the spot, but in retrospect, one of us should have realized that two fried dishes would be overkill. My fellow diners ordered Caesar salads, along with their ribbon pasta dish, their tuna steak, and their chicken livers.

So the oysters were okay. However, as I was eating them, I couldn't stop focusing on the texture. They used mid-sized oysters – probably blue points or something similar. They tasted fresh and were not too creamy (my preference). The outside wasn't just crunchy; it was crunchier in some spots than others. The reason - cornmeal. All in all, it didn't break the dish - oysters are a mixture of textures, so it wasn't difficult to bring in one more texture for the tongue...but I'm not sure I would duplicate it at home. My fellow diners enjoyed the Caesar salads, saying that they were not over-dressed. My salad (with the oysters) was okay, a little under-dressed and the greens were a little tired. But I am being nitpicky now cuz I ate all of it.

For my entree, I had the fried squid (calamari). It wasn't good. Same texture issues (cornmeal), but this time, it made the dish inedible. It just dominated the dish. It didn't help that there was minimal sauce and other problems. With the calamari, they served it on a bed of pea greens. These can be very nice – flavorful and crunchy. This time, I spent the entire time trying to cut the stems away from the leaves. The person who had chicken livers had the same problem. Either we don’t know how to eat pea greens properly, or the chef hasn’t really figured out how to serve them. I barely touched the calamari dish in the end. The ribbon pasta was given a “fair” rating; the chicken livers were enjoyed for their uniqueness; the tuna was approved.

Overall, surprisingly, I would go back and give them one more chance. The atmosphere was nice, the service was polite, and I will be more careful next time. One last caveat – there is a reason they use cornmeal – overall, the theme is New England. They are making modern dishes, but with traditional New England ingredients. I like the fact that they are focused, but I think it costs them a little.

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