My first time to the highly regarded Craigie Street Bistrot - it was a bit of an adventure to leave everything in the hands of the chef for the four course tasting menu -
We waited a bit while the place cleared of regular diners and the chef's choice folks were seated - In the meantime, enjoyed a glass of 2002 Chinon "Cuvée Terroir" Charles Joguet while my companion had the Kir Royale. The Chinon was fascinating - it was extremely light in weight and initial taste, almost airy or even bland, but it finished and kept on finishing...the flavors from each sip opened up to reveal a sneakily complex taste that lingered for a long time - a real sucker punch of a red.
App: Rabbit terrine with toast, pickled shallots, purple mustard, pepper, salt, cilantro. Ok, so there was a fruit fly hanging on the terrine and the server caught his breath in shock and displeasure, but we shooed him away, said he won't eat much and all was well in the world again.
This was right tasty - all the interesting flavors intermingled - delicious - although I do find it giggle-inducing that there were long French descriptions for "pepper" and "salt." It's not just any salt, it's special French salt! Whatever - as long as it's not a pile of Morton's, I appreciate it.
Salad was very well done - a variety of seasonals - yellow tomato - beet - carrot - bean - funny cuke - poached in a bouillon flavored with some sort of spice blend - topped with tiny flowers that tasted of licorice. For me, this really showed what the restaurant can do - a combination of tastes that were wholely unexpected. At this point, we were into a half carafe of the house white - fine.
Entree was hanger steak over a mushroom polenta with a poached egg on top and a dark sauce on the side that was almost like a very mild mole. Ok, I'm thinking steak and eggs? But I kid - it was very rich and delicious.
We asked for a pairing and received a glass of 2001 Bordeaux Supérieur Domaine de Courteillac - this was quite the opposite of the Chinon - it packed a flavorful wallop, but the flavors faded quickly. Preferred the Chinon.
Desserts were two - a chocolate terrine with white chocolate ice cream and almonds - and a warm berry and rhubarb compote-tart with creme anglais ice cream. Both tasty - the chocolate was dark, and had a fudgey consistency, but it was really creamy in the taste. A Sevan blend tea rounded out the night -
We were there for well over two hours - leisurely paced but never slow - As you know, the $35 tasting menu is a weekly special at the Bistrot and it had the proper effect, the one that the other places in Boston attempting for RW seem to be largely missing - it gave me a taste of many different items in small portions, but did not leave me hungry (the wine helped this). The combinations and tastes were good, surely not the best they had to offer, but said to me "Look what I could do" if you ordered the full monty at regular prices, which I will likely consider in the future.