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Restaurants & Bars 1

Umbria... eh.

Chris VR | Nov 23, 2004 01:44 PM

We went to Umbria recently. We had such an amazing meal at Dedo, and when we found out the chef (Michael Scelfo) was now at Umbria, it went to the top of our list. Unfortunately I don't think the food was anywhere near as good as Dedo and the prices were considerably more, not offering a particularly good value for the quality of the food and service.

We started with house specialty martinis which were pricey but worth it. Mine, a "Mojoto Martini", was excellent, and his, "The Buddah" was also excellent. I suspect I would have been just as happy with a regular mojito, which I imagine would have been a bit less expensive than the $12 martini.

After the drinks were delivered, the waiter disappeared for 10 minutes or so, which was a bit frustrating because we were getting pretty hungry, and although the excellent bread basket and bean puree helped, we wanted to get going on dinner so we could get home before our babysitter tuned into a pumpkin. Finally I flagged down another waiter, who went and found him so we could order.

We shared a cheese and meat appetizer. The salami was very good, prosciutto was fine, and were highly impressed with three of the cheeses- a gorgonzola, a soft cheese with an ash-like rind and a hard Parmesan- like cheese. I wanted specifics on names and who made the cheeses but was unable to get details from the waiter. (He tried- went off and asked someone and came back and told me the soft cheese was a ricotta salata, which it obviously wasn't). He did, however, point me towards a store in the North End where I could purchase Umbrian products: Salumeria Toscano, which is nice but doesn't help if I don't know what I'm asking for. It was frustrating to not be able to get this info. I don't expect the waiter to be a complete expert on the menu, but if someone asks about the contents of the cheese plate, somebody should be able to provide that info without all the fuss and inaccurate info that went on when we asked.

I was disappointed that the mains came while we were still eating the appetizer- I hate feeling rushed through my meal. I had the rabbit trio, which included a leg, a loin and a sausage. The sausage was excellent. The loin was moist and nicely seasoned but the flavor of the rabbit was milder than I wanted- I like rabbit to be a bit gamey and this came off as almost flavorless. The leg was dry and disappointing. I know the philosophy here is to let the pure flavors of the food shine through with simple preparations, but this dish needed some sauce to rescue the leg and to perk up the loin. There was a small bit of sauce on the plate but not enough to do much. It came with some dressed greens (arugula, I think) that were good. The waiter recommended a glass of Valipocella, which needed to open up a bit but once it did, was a very good match for the dish. Stemware (Spiegelau) was excellent and the wine pours were generous.

Hubby's dish was more impressive- lamb chops, served with lamb shank, lentils and mirepoix. I only had one bit but the flavors and textures were very good- he was very happy with it. He had a glass of red with it- Primitivo? that had a nice smoky flavor that perfectly complemented the gorgonzola we had left from the appetizer plate.

I had a chocolate hazelnut dessert, with a very dry chocolate cake which was improved by the pool of chocolate sauce accompanying it, and a scoop of wonderful chocolate hazelnut gelato. He was very happy with his choice, a rice pudding in a pool of cranberry sauce- I think there was pumpkin flavoring in there somewhere as well. I only had a taste and it wasn't to my taste but as I said, he was very happy with it.

The waiter was less attentive than we'd have liked, but he was friendly and tried to be helpful when we asked him the right questions. The pacing could have been improved. The lighting was dark enough that we had a hard time reading the bar menu. The cheesy soft rock music was too loud and distracting- it also made it difficult to communicate with the waiter. My husband was disappointed that when he had called to make the reservation, he had tried to tell them it was my birthday to see if they could do a special dessert or something, but they took the reservation and rushed off the phone before he had a chance to say anything.

The prices were just a bit too far out of line with the experience. Everything seemed about 20% more expensive than we thought it should be. The entire thing came to $136. I'm happy to spend that much for a "wow" experience, but this just wasn't enough to make me feel I was getting a good value. We don't plan to go back soon.

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