On the advice of a few chowhounds, and against the advice of other chowhounds, my friend and I dined at Laurel last night prior to catching Punch Drunk Love at the Loews Boston Common.
The food was much better than the movie.
My first impression upon arrival, was "wow, maybe this isn't the right place, the atmosphere would seem like a place where the entrees would be more than $10-$20." Upon immediate seating (it was 6:30 PM), we perused the varied menu. Indeed, all entrees, except those specifically listed otherwise, are $10 (the menu stated every night is frugal night). My next thoughts were "how can they afford to sell $10 dinners at such a modestly elegant-looking restaurant at that location" and "for only $10, the quality of the food may suffer."
The very pleasant wait staff immediately brought bread and water and outlined the 3-4 specials for the night. The menu, with the specials, was quite extensive as far as meat, poultry, "vegetarian" and seafood selections (about 3-4 choices each).
My friend ordered the rotisserie chicken, with honey glaze (there was also a jalapeno/pepper/garlic option), served on a bed of mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, and maybe something else. I thought her chicken was excellent - tender and while flavorful, not overwhelmed by the spices or glaze. I would imagine she felt the same, as she left little on her plate. This dish was $10.
I ordered the filet mignon served over mashed potatoes, with a few stalks of asparagus, in a small pool of demi. As my friend wanted to try some and she's not a big fan of rare meat, I opted to order medium with a hint of pink. I generally order medium rare. It's amazing how cooking styles vary by region. I was actually a bit speechless while dining on the initial bites of the steak, as the cut was (I thought) perfectly prepared and very succulent, albeit more medium rare than medium. Wonderful cut of meat, much more than the $16 entree price tag would suggest. Oh and the potatoes ... the potatoes ... simply sublime. Mostly thick and creamy but with soft chunks of delicious red bliss, I almost needed a moment alone after tasting them dipped in the demi sauce. I was somewhat disappointed with the 3 pieces of asparagus; they were so divine that I wished I had 10 more (side orders are available) but then again, I love asparagus. Anyway, about a 1/4 of the way into the steak, it became evident that the cut was actually prepared much, much closer to rare, as only the outside 1/2 inch was even close to medium rare (not even close to medium). I have long since stopped eating rare beef.
An honest mistake, as they were starting to get busy. I worked in restaurants for nine years, no one is perfect. The waiter whisked the meal away, to be returned in short order, with a new batch of potatoes and more asparagus. Unfortunately I had mostly filled up on the potatoes the first time around, so I pretty much only ate the steak, cooked to a much more palatable medium rare/medium color. But I did eat the rest of the asparagus.
Along with 2 glasses of wine , the dinner was around $40 (pre-tip). A very inexpensive and delightful dinner for two in the South End/Back Bay area. We will definitely return.