Fried smelts or a roasted sardine?
Based upon the waiter's informed descriptions, I had difficulty deciding betwen the two. The fried smelts were descrived as a simple, rustic dish. The roasted sardine, meanwhile, so I was told, was a more elaborate and assertedly flavored dish borrowing from Provene -- dusted in parmesan cheese and breacrumbs and then served with capers, olives, etc.
Full flavored vs. rustic and simple. A tough choice between two of my favorites. Because I think it is very rare to find rustic and simple food served well in Boston, I went for the fried smelts!
Wow. If they had been salted a little more assertively, this would have been a perfect dish. Dusted with cornemal and flash fried, the smelts were served without their heads in a paper-lined wooden basket, with a small dish of tartar sauce. I could have eaten A LOT of these. At nine dollars, a decent value, too.
The wife's creamy mushroom and cashew soup was gourgeously rich, and the garnishes just added to the decadent richness. Perfectly seared scallops and fried jirusolem artichoke chips. Great dish.
My wife's skate ($23), served in a huge portion on the bone was a very good dish, but perhaps the least impressive of the evening.
The oxtails ($24), which had been marinated in red wine for two days, were impossibly tender, as they should be when prepared in a stew with wintry vegetables, as they were here. This was among the best renditions of this style of dish I've ever had. The fatty, delicious oxtails were falling off the bone and into the red wine reduction broth, which also was home to perfect halved brussel spoouts, some turnips, and barley served in a risotto style.
The trio of pot de cremes was good, if not extraordinary. 1) Caramel, (2) Coconut-chocolate; and (3) Cardamon-coffee.