This restaurant is located in the old city hall building in downtown Boston, a stunningly beautiful building with old school architecture, giant 20 ft ceilings inside, and a view onto a old cemetery from the dinning room we sat in (that is a bit unusual). Unfortunately the entire restaurant was kept in near total darkness it was so dim. I had a very hard time reading the menu and actually used the light coming in the window from the Christmas lights in the trees outside to help read the damn thing! Very aggravating. The restaurant features an extensive list of wines, scotches, and aperitifs, and had approximately 25 wines by the glass available. We had 7 people as my table and here is a rundown of what we had.
* Mixed drinks - The comment was made that the mixed drinks at the table had far too much ice in them which led them to be watered down quite a bit.
* Scotch - A large selection of scotch meant that many people had quite a few.
* Wine - With the large number of wines available by the glass and only 3 people drinking wine this night we decided to go with individual glasses.
* Chateau Greysac Bordeaux 2005 - Quite nice with all the qualities usually associated with a Bordeaux, went well with the beef.
* Lobster Bisque - Very nice traditionally prepared bisque, although mine had two shards of lobster shell in it, this was the highlight of the meal despite the shell.
* Caesar Salad - Finely chopped and wilted romaine lettuce drenched with far too much caesar salad dressing that tasted like it came out of a bottle, served with a giant parmesan crisp, extremely disappointing for a high end steak house!
* Seared Ahi Tuna - Good, extremely rare tuna with a tasty sauce.
Main Courses and Sides
* Steaks - This is what the restaurant is known for, so everyone got a steaks including fillet, NY strip, ribeye, and porterhouse, many available both with and without bones. All steaks served are US Prime certified. The gimmick that they use at this restaurant is to serve the steaks on a heavy ceramic plate heated to 500 degF in an oven with a dollop of herbed butter to make the whole thing sizzle at the table. There are a multitude of problems with this approach and it really ends being far too much showmanship and not enough GOOD FOOD. The plate continues to cook the steak, causing it to blow right past your preferred state of doneness as it sits in front of you. The heat makes it so that the steak never gets a chance to rest making it pour juice onto the plate instead of into your mouth, and plate will instantly burn you quite badly if you accidentally touch it right after it comes to the table. Overall I was VERY unimpressed with this "fine" steak. In addition, all of the steaks that we ordered were $48 and over, for this kind of money I expect to get a dry aged steak of superb quality. Unfortunately the steaks was around the same quality that I can find at Outback or my local grocery store. Not bad but certainly not worth the money.
* NY Strip Steak - This was my steak and it deserves special mention. The steak was not properly trimmed and had a band of silver skin half way around the steak, this was also the side of the steak that was presented towards me when served resulting in my first cut with the knife to require SAWING through this this band of connective tissue. Very disgusting! Once I realized this and took the band of silver skin off Half of my steak was wonderfully flavored with a nice texture, while the other half was very tough and grisly. Again, nasty. Because of the hot plate gimmick they use the meat was medium-rare when it got to the table, but by the time I was half way through it was fully medium nearing medium-well. Because of the heat, the bottom of the steak was also done more then the top, causing a strange half medium, half medium well situation...
* Mashed Potatoes - Dry, very lumpy (way past the point of rustically mashed), flavor was good but the texture was way off.
* Creamed Spinach - Flavorless, I love creamed spinach but this was a poor preparation.
* Potatoes au Gratin - Ultra rich for the sake of being ultra rich, lacking.
* Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce - Quite nice.
* Creme Brulee - Good flavor, but this was obviously brulee'ed in advance and then served to me later, the sugar on top was no where near thick enough and was soggy without that wonderful CRUNCH that a good brulee should have. The fresh berries accompanying this were very nice and tasted like they were in season. I complained about this one after being very disappointed with my meal and the charge was removed.
Overall I was extremely disappointed with this meal, at $100 for just me I was expecting FAR more then what I got. To give you an idea, the appetizers, soup, salad, sides, and deserts were all $10-15, for that amount of money I expect a great salad, spectacular sides, and a brulee made properly and to order. The sizzling plate idea is interesting, and certainly has a good presentation, but the execution is flawed and leads to unfortunate side effects and compromises in the quality of the food. The service was quite slow, requiring just under 3 hours to complete a 3 course meal, I have had a 6 course meal in this length of time. In general, I always have a problem with the "traditional steak house", you know exactly what to expect and nothing is ever imaginative, new, or different. When the steaks from a place like this are crap that just makes it all the worse. Oh, and to top it all off, the waiter forgot to have my car brought around from the Valet service (I gave him the ticket when we were eating our deserts), so I stood in the cold for 10 minutes waiting after I finished my meal. Do yourself the favor, spend a little bit more per person and go to the Oak Room or Grill 23.
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