After hearing mixed reviews and being put off by the astronomical prices, I finally went to Salamander (in Copley Square, relocated from East Cambridge) last night. It was extraordinary and unlike any other place I've been in town. We ate at the Satay Bar, where one can order off the regular menu or off the menu featuring satay and other small dishes available only at the bar. We (two hungry men) were satisfied for around $65, a bargain when the entrees on the regular menu hover around $25-$35.
The dishes were a very gutsy Asian fusion -- spring rolls wrapped in yuba (the skin that forms on soy milk, a Japanese delicacy), and a smoky scallop stirfry with charred Chinese sausage, for instance. The format of the bar made it easy to sample numerous dishes, and none disappointed.
I compare it to Ambrosia, the Asian-fusion down the street: Salamander is more challenging in its ingredients and as good in its execution.
It's not doing well, to judge from the ease of getting seated Saturday night at 7. But that's probably the fault of there being not much overlap in Boston between those willing to spend a lot of money for dinner and those who are drawn to yuba and Chinese sausage. (Ambrosia, for that matter, was less than half-full when we walked by at 7. Maybe we're just unfashionably early.)
Have others had as good an experience at Salamander? And are there other places trying to do the same that succeed better?