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Boston Area

Restaurant L almost delivers

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Restaurant L almost delivers

MC Slim JB | Jan 21, 2006 01:38 AM

Can't help the feeling that an extraordinary chef is being muzzled here: few of the really edgy flashes I read about from his early days are in evidence here. The food is nonetheless very solid, built on high-quality ingredients, showing glimmers of wit. It's just not the science project I'd hoped for, nor quite up to the prices levied.

Bad: a fairly ugly, underdone room, worse by night than at lunch. Shoddy carpentry lets you see through a door gap clearly into the mens room. Clever, interesting fancy cocktails are fatally marred by slack execution: how can anyone charge $14 for a strained cocktail that isn't served in a thoroughly ice-chilled glass, the liquid as close to freezing as an ethanol-heavy potion can get? Shameful, especially since the recipes reflect real cocktail cheffery.

Good: most everything else. A great appetizer of thin sheets of persimmon topped with lightly fried oysters (my favorite treatment) and roasted artichoke heart cylinders. An amuse of octopus ceviche, with a lovely waft of the sea and barely-crunchy texture. A warm, generous entree of fresh-tasting Maine lobster (shelled claws and mostly-shelled tail) with toasted orzo and barely-sauteed gailan, a new green to me: simple and not overwhelmingly rich. A second amuse of cassis jelly on a Chinese soup spoon with a thin coffee/milk sauce, another winning pairing of unexpected flavors and textures.

Desserts are terrific: a milk chocolate panna cotta is flanked by a triangle of carmelized homemade marshmallow, another textural marvel, a singular confection I'll be thinking about for weeks.

Wine list is about what you'd expect for the restaurant attached to a clothing store where men's fashion suits cost $2000: mostly absurdly overpriced.

Service, excepting the pitiful bartending, is sweet and competent. We escape for under $200 complete, wishing the room looked a little nicer, that the chef had freer rein, that we had come at lunch when the prices are saner. I had a good time, and some well-above-average food, but can't say it's a good value. I used to wonder why this place never looks even half-full every time I look in during dinner hours; no longer.

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