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Boston Area Dinner

Dinner @ Azafran, Winchester

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Dinner @ Azafran, Winchester

Linda W. | Mar 20, 2003 09:04 AM

Went to Azafran on Church St. in Winchester last night with a friend. Very easy to get to; only two other groups of people there at 6:45, but they asked if we had reservations. We didn't, but we were able to choose any small table (I took one next to the window).

I started with a glass of sangria; my friend had a glass of white wine. The sangria was more red wine than anything; not what I'm used to as compared to Dalí (usually a mixture of rioja, o.j., brandy, some sugar, and fruit), but still good.

We chose to go with the tapas/small plates. Garlic shrimp was a much larger portion than I was expecting; small (not baby) fresh shrimp perfectly cooked in oil with slivers of garlic. Grilled beef tenderloin (to medium-rare) on a toasted baguette slice topped with a dollop of blue cheese (I don't believe it was Spanish cabrales; this seemed to be a much stronger and tangy blue cheese, but still very good).

On the recommendation of chowcat in last week's post about Azafran, we also had the sauteed spinach with pine nuts, garlic, and golden raisins - this was absolutely wonderful, and an easy side dish to make at home. Finally, we tried one of their specials - pan-seared scallops in a saffron-scented thin white wine sauce with a touch of cream. The scallops were caramelized on the outside, sweet and tender on the inside. The sauce was a good bit thinner than I would have liked but still good.

We were too full for dessert - probably because the portions were larger than I expected for all except the beef tenderloin - so we passed on dessert, but the option of 5 imported Spanish cheeses had me intrigued.

Service was a little spotty - there was only one waitperson, and while it was OK when there were only 3-5 groups, the restaurant filled up almost to capacity later in the evening, and she was definitely overwhelmed. We had to wait a bit for refills on our sangria and wine, as well as for the bill. The owner/chef ended up doing some of the serving and other tables, and she checked with each table to see how they were enjoying their meal. But I can definitely see how reservations would be needed for weekend visits.

We didn't get clean plates between our choices (but we also didn't ask!) so the oil from the garlic shrimp mingled with the beef tenderloin mingled with the sauce from the scallops....but there was plenty of bread to help soak up all the garlic oil and juices.

While we didn't try any of the main plates, portions served to those around us seemed huge (and prices on the main plates and some of the small plates reflected that). Total before tip was $66.00 (4 shared tapas/small plates and 2 drinks each). Definitely a nice place and I will return, but my loyalty still lies with Dalí. Oh, and they have takeout menus! Not sure if they do takeout for one or two (it doesn't say on the takeout menu - they only talk about doing takeout for your "gatherings" at home), but that would be ideal depending on what you got.

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