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Boston Area

Sel de la terre - review

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Sel de la terre - review

jacinthe | Apr 10, 2005 05:44 PM

My friend and I were in Boston, and needed a place to eat after a morning at the spa. Something light was in order, as heavy eating during the day tends to leave us rather listless and unproductive when it comes to actually writing papers. However, given our unfortunate location (near Fanueil Hall), and we wanted to be able to walk from where we were to the restaurant, we were left with not to many choices. My palm pilot did come up with one reasonably close restaurant that – even better! – was on our list of places to try. So we walked the couple of blocks to Sel de la Terre.

We got there at 11:35, five minutes after the restaurant opened for lunch, and they weren’t quite ready for us yet. Apparently the hostess had called in sick and another person was called in as a pinch-hitter, and she wasn’t very familiar with how to seat people. No matter. We were the first ones there, and therefore given our choice of seats. We opted for the leather chairs in the bar area, as they looked ever-so-comfortable.

Menus were given, drink orders taken. While the $21 prix-fixe lunch option was very tempting, we decided that we didn’t want that much food and instead chose to split the goat cheese salad and the bouillabaisse. A basket of bread was brought out, which included this amazing bed that had entire figs embedded in it. Slathered with butter, it could’ve sufficed as dessert. Pretty martinis were brought out – mine a blood orange one, made with vodka infused with blood oranges, my friend’s a peach one. Both fantastic. The salad was served already split onto two separate plates, which was nice. Arugula dressed lightly, a warm slice of aged goat cheese melting over it, a long slice of toasted baguette drizzled with olive oil served on the side. A lovely start. The bouillabaisse was also brought out split between two plates – it wasn’t what I was expecting, which was a sort of seafood stew. There was very little broth, and it was almost like a composed soup, if such a thing can be had. Shellfish and fish were artfully arranged with some potatoes and onions in the shallow bowl, a thin pool of broth underneath, a crouton drizzled with aioli atop. I don’t know if it would have been different if the dish had come out as a whole on one plate. Nevertheless, it was also very good, although I’d have liked more broth.

Dessert is where we totally caved. We were so good with our eating, not stuffing ourselves. Then the dessert menu came, and we had – HAD – to order the grand dessert for two, which was a sampler of the five offered desserts. We were brought a place with miniature versions of the larger desserts – chocolate crepe filled with nutella and chantilly crème, vanilla crème brulée, a small lemon curd tart with section of citrus fruit, a dense chocolate espresso cake with a truffle and caramel ice cream, and a small sampler of sorbets with a lovely almond-flavoured cookie. I think my favourites had to be the crepe and the sorbets – cassis, passionfruit, and something else - which I normally wouldn’t have ordered. There was just enough nutella to add flavour, but not so much that the dessert lay like a dead weight at the bottom of your stomach. The crust on the lemon tart was a little too thick, but that could have been a function of its miniaturisation.

All in all, a very pleasant lunch. Service was absolutely excellent throughout, and the room definitely started filling up after noon. I’d like to come back to try their sandwiches at lunch, or the wine pairing on Wednesday nights.

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