My new theory is that, in Boston, the best restaurant experiences come at either under $8 or over $30 (for entree prices). I had high expectations for my recent forays to the world in between (Oleana, Union, Sibling Rivalry, Om, Summer Shack, Lumiere), but the performances have been disappointing. There was always something missing - wait staff was condescending, the food was tired, the ambiance was trying too hard...
I had all but given up on Boston dining, figuring the best I can do is something along the lines of Blue Ribbon BBQ, Santarpio's pizza, and the Haley House Bakery Cafe.
I went to Radius tonight. It was my first time, and, honestly, given my recent experiences eating out, I was expecting to be disappointed by another overpriced establishment. Instead, my three hours at Radius restored my belief in what eating well in Boston might actually mean.
Though the selections on the menu are few - I feel that I could have ordered any dish and enjoyed it. I started with the spiced duck and fennel salad, served with date puree, macadamia nuts, and thinly sliced kumquats. Conceived well, executed perfectly. For my entree, I chose the tasting of vegetables prepared 5 ways. The presentation of the dish was highly creative (a circular quiche, a ramekin of asparagus varieties, root vegetables in a miniature copper sauce pan, eggplant tempura...). Overall, the preparations were delicate, flavorful, and varied, without ever losing the natural fragrance of the produce. Impressive for just vegetables. The portion was plentiful.
The carrot cake dessert I ordered came garnished with a "salad" of tiny dices of pickled carrot. Like our entrees, it was balanced in color and detail. The flavor was unique but remained true to the essence of its simple inspiration.
Our waiter was patient, knowledegable, and, most importantly to me, human. The service was attentive and professional, but never cold or insincere. Our meal was framed by an amuse bouche of shrimp and a complimentary small pastry sampling after dessert.
I enjoyed it. I wish it weren't so expensive, but if I had a choice to split my money between Radius and Falafel Palace, or to eat out consistently at any of the mediocre places in the North/South End, I would most definitely choose the former.