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BYOB DINNER FOR 11
There seems to be some difference of opinion on the board about Dumpling Daughter in Weston MA. But having moved back to Boston from Philly, which is the BYOB Capital of the World, I'm really feeling withdrawal about not being able to BYOB almost anytime, anywhere I want (GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER BOSTON!!!). So finding a restaurant offering good food and totally legal BYOB very nearby to where I live has been high on my wish list.
Anyway, our wine group decided to check out DD, a modern Asian BYOB in Weston MA that was opened ~1 1/2 years ago by Nadia, the daughter of well-known restauranteur Sally Ling's (hence the clever name). Sally apparently collaborated on the menu. Nadia's charming sister Nicole also works there (she has a particular interest in wine and can offer pairing suggestions). So it is definitely a family affair.
DD is usually first-come, first served. However, they also allow reservations if you have a large group (more than 8), so we made a res for 11 people 1 month in advance. When I spoke to Nadia by phone, she offered us a number of group dining options:
1) Each person orders items they want off of the a la carte menu and pays individually, or split the bill equally among the group
2) Order from a la carte menu, but have food served family-style (~$15-$25/per person, depending on dishes)
3) A totally customized experience, including both on- and off-menu dishes, which could encompass whole fish, lobster, or even Peking duck prepared tableside ($25-$60/pp)
I love tasting menus, which allow you to really experience the full range of a restaurant, so we went with the customized menu, at a price that ended up working out to $48/per person (plus tax). Note: DD is normally an "order at the counter, then wait for the food to be brought to your table" place, so there isn't formal table service and no tip is required. However, since Nadia and her staff did such a great job serving us (we opened and poured our own wines), we decided a 20% tip was well-deserved.
Our relaxed wine theme for the evening was "food-friendly wines you want to share" (original, I know!). I always find it hard to pair wines with Chinese food, so generally just wing it and avoid obsessing beyond bringing a bunch of Rieslings. Champagne goes with everything, so that is another old standby.
After a few emails with Nadia, here is our final menu and the wines we brought. One of our group is pescatarian, so we biased this menu towards fish/vegetables, and away from the many delicious-sounding meat dishes. 9 of 11 dishes ended up being pescatarian-friendly, but Nadia also subbed in a couple of plates so our pescatarian could enjoy 11 different dishes. The whole experience was easy to organize, and smoothly served over a leisurely 3 1/2 hours (although I apologize to Nadia if we sat around talking over wine well past the restaurant's 8PM Saturday close!).
1) Sally Ling's Cucumber Salad [crispy English cucumber with sesame peppercorn oil]
2) Three Stuffed Dumpling Sampler (3 per person--shrimp or pork or vegetable)
3) Sally Ling's Vegetable Spring Rolls [crispy rolls with cabbage, black mushroom, carrots]
2002 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon
2007 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Coeur de Cuvée
2009 Pierre Gimonnet Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Fleuron
4) Steamed Whole LIVE Sea Bass [finished with ginger & scallions, soy]
5) Grand Marnier Shrimp [crispy shrimp with creamy orange citrus glaze; WPOTN]
1969 Schloss Reinhartshausen Erbacker Riesling [amazingly still alive, despite a scary cork!]
20?? Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile [fault]
2012 Williams Selyem Chardonnay Unoaked [squeaky dry wine; lovely pairing with the shrimp]
2015 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett
6) Minced Chicken Soong in Lettuce Leaves [light with a savory plum sauce, delicious]
7) Lion's Head Meatball with Baby Bok Choy [amazingly light, tender pork-shrimp-leek meatball in Chef's pan sauce]
8) Wok-roasted String Beans with Minced Mustard Greens
2000 August Kesseler Spätburgunder Cuvée Max
2005 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5°
2011 Cirq Pinot Noir TreeHouse [from Kosta Browne; my WOTN]
2012 Myriad Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard [mailing list-only, an amazingly powerful wine]
2015 Domaine des Rosiers Moulin-à-Vent
[LOL, at this point we were pretty much drinking red wines and ignoring pairings. When we started to run low, someone actually went into the grocery next door and bought the Beaujolais, which for future reference is a good option to know about.]
9) Ma La Sichuan Spicy Vermicelli with Cilantro & Cucumber [spicy tongue tingling cold noodles]
10) Crispy Brussel Sprouts [delicious sesame soy dressing, siracha & kewpie mayonnaise]
2004 Albert Boxler Riesling Sommerberg Vendange Tardive
2007 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Riesling Hengst
2009 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese
11) A selection of: Sesame Balls with sticky rice and red bean paste, Sticky Rice Balls with black sesame paste, and Golden Fried Buns with condensed milk
2005 Château Rieussec Sauternes [still young, come back in a few years]
DD is a charming, modern, cafe-like space located in a small shopping plaza, so there is easy parking out front. Nadia made the process of designing our meal easy, and we thought the resulting food was excellent and the meal generally well-paced.
No, I wouldn't call it the best Chinese food I've had in the Boston area (I'm a Sichuan Gourmet fan), and it is a bit Americanized, but the dishes were well prepared and tasty. Being legal BYOB puts it over the top in my book and I'll definitely be back with my wine glasses (theirs suck).
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