80 Thoreau st., Concord Ma
I live in Central Mass. and IMHO this region suffers from a lack of any decent restaurants. For a restaurant to earn at least two stars, the food must be fresh and well- prepared, and table service impeccable. For this reason, the metro west and Boston area has many more quality restaurants per square mile.
The globe rated '80__Thoreau' high on their scale, so I was curious to see why. Concord is only forty-five minutes away from Central Mass., so my companion and I made a reservation for 5:30. We were greeted and promptly seated. If you are a lover of Americana, you will like the location of this restaurant. Housed in an old rail station, the trains still run adjacent to this old station.The exterior has been preserved but Inside, the architect has renovated the interior into a functional and thoroughly modern space. Walls are painted white, lighting is fairly romantic,yet not so dark that the menu is unreadable. There is a generous bar area that becomes lively at dinner hour.
We were immediately asked if we wanted ice or sparkling water. This was a nice touch and showed the attentiveness of their wait staff. Wine prices were steep,so we opted for single glasses. The menu is sensible and listed only five appetizers; the entrees numbered six. Another good sign, since the more dishes a restaurant boasts, the less the chances are that your food will be prepared well. We chose two white wines, and they arrived in appropriately chilled glasses.
Fresh bread, two varieties, were served. Both were wonderful; the foccacia moist and soft, the multi-grain dark and rich. (the waiter informed me that they did not bake their own bread and gave me the name of their bakery)
For our first course, we ordered the 'Duck confit.' It arrived properly crisp, the dark meat easily flaked and was soft and moist. Underneath we tasted French lentils and a caramelized onion puree; we finished every drop even the bitter greens. More bread arrived, and our water glasses were always filled.
For our second course we choose the Roast Chicken. I once tasted the best roasted organic chicken at 'Acquitaine', a French restaurant in Chestnut Hill, and have yet to find anything comparable, until now. The chicken was moist, and tasted sweet and fresh as organic chicken should. We dipped bread into the jus and finished a wonderful dish. Kudos to their chef. I was impressed.
The only disappointment came at dessert time. Either their staff lacked a skilled pastry chef, or this was the best they had to offer. There were only five choices and none that appeared special. We were in no mood to order a sorbet. so we selected their 'ricotta cake.' When it arrived, we were under whelmed, no sauce accompanied the cake. It resembled slices of cake atop of a ricotta layer, on a fig base crust. We were not impressed.
But this is a special place. The ambiance is soft, and the noise level is acceptable. The food is excellent, the wait staff: commendable; all this and not too far from Central Massachusetts. Tiaotse