Had a wonderful dinner at Scutra in Arlington. The small dining room of this family run restaurant was decorated with beautiful glass plates and vases (as I learned during dinner, Scutra means a "plate" in latin ;) Plenty of space between tables so it's a good place to talk and linger. The food was a mix of comforting and creative. We started with garlic-butter mussels with parmesan and sun-dried tomatoes. They were laid out on a plate with indentations in the shape of shells, kind of like snails. It was a yummy, but heavy dish. Probably more appropriate for cold weather. The shrimp spring roll special was fun and refreshing. The roll was briefly deep-fried and served over a wonderful red cabbage slaw with a creamy coconut dressing.
Entrees were the real strength here. Pistachio crusted halibut was moist and delicious and the accompanying balsamic scented ratatouille packed the flavor of the summer in every bite. The grilled veal tenderloin was delicously smoky and came with a perfect al dente mushroom risotto. The elk special was the only slight disappointment. We asked for it medium-rare, but most of the piece was cooked medium or even medium-well, making it a bit tough. The prefect risotto and apricot chutney that came with the elk helped us ignore the minor mishap.
The wine list is just the way I like it -- short but good. We shared a good bottle of Cote du Rhone for $31.
I was neutral about desserts. Since I don't have much of a sweet tooth, I only like them if they are outstanding. These were just good. The peach tart tatin with vanilla ice-cream was pleasant, but I prefer it with pie dough rather than puff pastry. The Sacher torte was a dense chocolate cake, not quite the way I remember it from Vienna, but the chocolate lover in our party seemed to have really enjoyed it. The dessert sampler came with a little yam creme brulee, and two other pastries that I didn't get to taste. The creme brulee was a bit sweet for my taste.
The service was friendly, helpful, and efficient. All the recommendations that our waitress made were right on. The meal was very well paced, glasses always refilled, and we never felt rushed.
With appetizers in the $7-9 range and entrees in the low $20s, this was a real bargain. Scutra now joins the short list of my favorite reasonably priced Boston restaurants (Grotto and Ten Tables), though I found the food to be a bit lighter at Scutra than the other two.