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I haven't read much CH talk about this spot recently, so when I read in the Globe of an enticing dish, we went tonight at 5 for easy street parking and an early dinner. We had a great talk with the welcoming chef/owner, Louie, who explained that the 'just for fun' menu switch to all small plates, which began as a one month exercise in April, was so successful that they decided to keep that change, and some of the plates on the new menu - are brand new.
While I'm not a fan of the room décor itself, we had a comfortable booth and a terrific waitress, Katlyn, and tried 10 dishes (yes, we had doggy bags; a third diner would have been well fed had they joined us.) What I most enjoyed about the food was how it was informed by a serious knowledge of world cuisines blended with a commitment to quality seasonal foodstuffs.
After a long stint working for inspiring chef bosses, Louie's excitement about his food is visible in every plate. It's not that every dish is successful, but you can feel that the person who created these dishes- is committed! And another fun aspect was how every plate looks so appealing. Not the world of foams and drizzles, but color, textures , layering, and little bits of hidden ingredients-- they all make many of the plates their own adventure .
The food at Tavern Road gave me two "WOW!!" moments; one began the meal; one ended it.
The lightly fried Eggplant and Chevre Fritters w/ Smoked Tomato Sauce- was the night's major killer.<major major sigh>
Passion Fruit 'Pudding' (Bavarian) was such a perfect ending to an evening of so many different flavors. It was a light creamy delight punctuated by the richness of Mascarpone and the punch of a bright rosy fruit puree. These dishes were the best two tastes I have had all year.
Other highlights were the:
- Bluefish Escabeche (half roasted and then marinated in a punchy vinaigrette) with sauteed fennel and market cherry tomatoes.
- Duck and Black Bean Pupusas with yellow Carrot sauce. OMG , I don't know who makes this masa, but I have never had such fully flavored, creamy pupusas in Boston. I suppose the $9 was steep since we couldn't really taste any of the filling, but then again, with masa this flavorful, who needs filling. With that unusual sauce, I could live on them.
--Pork and Littleneck Clams in XO broth with corn.... Aside from unfortunately tough pork, this is a fascinating treasure chest of a dish. Change the cut to a tender one, and cut it thin and small, and you have a pretty perfect bowl.
While the Chermoula and Porchetta Flatbread and the Parsnip Pierogi didn't quite work for us(too bland; too sweet) I love it
that Chef delivers my dream flatbread and pierogi dough-- both finished by being pressed in a skim of hot oil to give them a fantastic crunchy blistered exterior. Most chefs just don't take the time to produce this extra step of divine texture, so major kudos for that alone!
Plans are in the works for a charcuterie space and private dining room to take the place of the current Lunch area (They will also begin lunch service in the [currently] dinner-only dining room.) I really look forward to our next visit there.
by Jen Wheeler | At Christmas time, there are cookies galore, but true dessert lovers still crave something more substantial...