Restaurants & Bars

Boston Area

Torch/Mamma Maria (long)


Restaurants & Bars 2

Torch/Mamma Maria (long)

Joanie | Mar 5, 2004 07:38 AM

This high end dining is starting to get to me. Wed. I met two friends at the new bar at Troquet across from the Common, worried that we wouldn't find a seat at 7 as people headed to the theater. We could have had a private party there, it was quite slow. About 6 people hanging out downstairs and when I checked out the pretty new upstairs room on the way out, it was only 1/3-1/2 full. I had a specialalty drink that we thought he might have mixed up with a different one but they insisted this was some special fresh squeezed orange juice and not pink grapefruit juice which is what it looked and tasted like and was in the drink above mine on the menu. Whatever, should have stuck with wine there anyway and they did offer to make something else. There was a little dish of olives to munch on (another reason I should have gotten wine) and everyone was very pleasant.

Walked over to Torch on Charles St. for the first time since they're now supposedly more Italian oriented. I don't really see how it's much different from its former French menu, but northern Italian, new American, French, Mediterranean all get blurred after a while. We split a bottle of pinot grigio with our rustic bread and wonderfully salty olive oil and two of us split some fine gnocchi ($10). The other app was scallops with a ton of earthy mushrooms and a sauce that almost looked like gravy ($12). I thought it overpowered the scallops but he enjoyed it. Entrees range from about $22-34. I got striped bass w/ a tapenade sauce, spinach and substituted potato cake for fingerlings which was a very good move. Fish was tasty and done perfectly, spinach was fine but something was off with that tapenade. I made a face like a little kid when I first tasted it which the waiter saw and was ready to replace, substitute, whatever, but once I figured out the culprit, I just avoided it. My friends also thought it was sour or overly vinegary or something. Torch has had monkfish on the menu as long as it's been around and it's still great, served with shrimp risotto. Had a small bite of the lamb shank which I enjoyed but he thought it was a bit fatty. He had a half bottle of Calif. syrah with it that he liked (as you would at about the 5 drink mark). Their dessert choices are pretty basic ($8) and one friend always has to have chocolate, so she got the mousse which was good. I didn't need my own but wanted something a little less fluffy so I got the pecan tart w/ ice cream and caramel sauce which the table agreed was great. Waiter was on top of things, I like the room and its copper coloring. Nice neighborhood place which again, wasn't all that busy on a Wed. nite.

Thurs. started at the Bricco bar on Hanover St., I think people are taking the week off from eating out, every place we walked by including tiny Pomodoro and Daily Catch had seats at 8PM on a Thurs. In any case, the bartender actually was able to make me a mango martini which you can't find that often and it hit the spot, as it should for $12. (I kind of laugh when I'm researching other cities complaining how expensive things are, like $8 martinis, and here that's pretty much a bargain.) I was a bit surprised at how expensive Bricco was in general with not a single pasta under $20 and most appetizers around $14. We'll save that for another time.

Had 8:00 reservations at Mamma Maria and the girl who originally took them must have misunderstood and thought it was 8 at 8, so the two door people got a kick out of that. I'd read reviews online saying how obnoxious the staff at MM was but they were all great last nite. It's a beautiful restaurant with about 4 separate rooms, kind of makes me think of L'Espalier. And don't forget, you can get Table 99 which is one table for 4 (or 2) in its own tiny room. We sat by the window overlooking North Sq. and started with a glass of chardonnay and merlot with out large bread basket and three spreads of white beans, pesto and a chutney type thing. I started w/ winter salad which had stuff like raddichio, fennel and bacon ($9) and my friend got baked oysters ($12). He got lobster ravioli ($30) which were some of the most billowy, filled with lobster raviolis I've ever seen. There was asparagus in the dish too, very nice. I got rare tuna with squid ink thin pasta and some little tomatos which was nice if somewhat typical ($25). Apple crespelle looked great but I went with espresso panna cotta which I loved. My friend told me to tell you that the warm chocolate cake with mint ice cream was excellent. Waiter was very sweet, reminded us of the infamous "Shebang" guy from American Idol. I think it more or less lived up to the hype.

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