We had a couple of out of town visitors last week, and we wanted to take them out somewhere fairly nice, but not blow-out expensive. Given the recent groupon for SDLT Back Bay, I thought coupling that with an afternoon around Back Bay and the Common would make for a nice afternoon/evening.
There were 5 of us in total including our 14 month old daughter. We booked an early reservation (18:00 if I recall) and mentioned that my daughter would be with us. I've heard that sdlt is pretty child-friendly from this board.
We were greeted nicely and shown to the table. I was the first to arrive since I was coming straight from work. The service as a whole was pretty good, but not over and above. They were pretty good about our daughter, but not in any way moreso than other recent experiences, even from less child-friendly locations such as Toro.
Given it was our first time, I wanted to sample different aspects of the menu. We ordered 2 orders of the charcuterie (after being told it was 'amazing'), and one of the squid starters, as well as 3 of the small tastes -- bluefish pate, an egglplant dip, and a chickpea dip. For the mains we had one steak, one burger, one gnocchi. I was unsure what to order and asked for a suggestion, and was persuaded to order the prix fixe, which was duck confit salad, a sausage and an almond cake. Since I'd heard such good things about it, I also ordered the grill cheese sandwich/fries for my daughter -- she normally eats what we are eating, but I wanted to test this out in case we wanted to come again. None of our party drank (alcohol), and we had a couple of bottles of sparkling water.
In retrospect, we ordered far, far too much food. I was a little concerned about this, and asked that very question from out waitress, who paused a little bit (which I should have taken as a hint) but said that we were fine. Of the starters, the bluefish pate was by far the best dish, and at $3 was a steal. The touted charcuterie plates were pretty good, but far from amazing -- the pork jowel was rather moreish however. The other two dips were OK but nothing special, and twice the price of the fish pate. The squid dish was fine, but was extraneous, as was my confit salad. We wolfed them down, but knew we had too much food coming our way.
We sampled each other's dishes, so I got a taste of all the mains. My daughter's cheese sandwich was pretty good actually, but just far, far too much for a 15 month old. It would have been fine for an adult in fact. My sausage was very sweet -- I don't like sweet sausages, and specifically asked about this when ordering, but was re-assured it wasn't an 'overly sweet' sausage. Again, I should have taken the hint, and had we been out as a family, I might have steered clear, but there weren't too many dishes on the menu that really caught my eye, and I wanted to order several different things to get a flavour of the place. However, my companions like the sausage a lot. The burger was pretty good. Not the best I've tasted, but more than passable. The same could be said for the steak. It was competently prepared, but again, I can't say I was blown away by it. My wife's gnocchi was the best dish by far. Having said that, it too, was not outstanding.
We were so full we didn't order dessert other than the almond cake, which was actually rather good.
Overall, including tax and tip, the whole bill came to just over $200. WIth the 2 groupons, that reduced the damage to $150. Even at that price, I don't think it was great value for money, and at the upper price point ($50/ pp), there are many, many meals that can be had for less in Boston that would simply blow this one out of the water.
Nothing was terrible, but I left thinking that we had made a poor choice. Not every meal one has can be a total winner. However, since we dine out much less often since starting a family, perhaps there is a level of anxiety that the meal should be a success. Mostly, I was disappointed that our friends (who are not adventurous eaters and don't dine out much) could have had a much better meal somewhere else.
Sel De La Terre
776 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199