Adam and I spent a few days in Boston for the Rush concert (yes Rush – we ARE that old AND that geeky) and took the opportunity to hit a few Beacon Hill hot spots.
While I know that it was not – of course – representational of all Boston’s food scene, I have to say that the West End certainly didn’t have much game. Clink sucked. Mooo. . . . was good, but WAAY overpriced and The Paramount was a flat-out joke.
But, before I do, I have to share a realization: Portland restaurants are gaining the rep – in large part – because of the presence of the chef-owners. Not to take anything away from their hard-working sous chefs, line chefs and staffs, but the reason Bresca, Miyake and Bar Lola are consistently good is because Krista, Masa and Guy are (for the most part) THERE. They are committed and constantly creating.
So, back to Boston.
At Clink, located in the trendy Liberty Hotel, hungover line chefs and attention-starved waitresses seemed to run the show. Flirting was more on the agenda than serving. We received our wine and then lost our waitress to more important endeavors, such as chatting into the open kitchen. She must have felt me starring daggers into her back because she finally came to take our order. (And let me be clear, this was pre-concert, so it was early and the restaurant was practically empty.)
When the food came, I was sorry we’d bothered. The yellow fin tuna was days past its prime, the mussels uninspired and chewy, and the foie gras over-chilled. The meat in the goat curry was moist and flavorful, but the accompanying “homemade gnocci ” were simply flavorless gobs that managed to be both mealy and pasty. Truly a mess of a meal.
The next night’s dinner at Mooo. . . .was much better. A swank steak house with cream decor and dim lights, the place was packed and vibrant. The food was extremely good. Adam’s fries in his Steak Frites rivaled Duck Fat’s and our sauteed spinach was simply – and perfectly – cooked. My (ah-hem) beef with the joint? A 14-ounce New York Strip was $44 and it came with nothing.
A Napa Cabernet that I know to retail at $15 was listed for $65. An $8 Spanish Tempranillo was $42. This ain’t The French Laundry folks.
Now, on to the – apparently – celebrated neighborhood spot, The Paramount. Granted, we had one simple breakfast there instead of the much-acclaimed “diner” fare. But, if the overcooked eggs, undercooked potatoes and watered-down coffee are representational of, well, anything – we just didn’t get it. Adam also was particularly annoyed at the non-neighborhoody marketing speak plastered on the walls. Attempting to explain their policy of not letting you sit down until you’ve ordered and paid, the faux-friendly phrasing just made us gag – “it may seem strange but it actually makes sure that the delicate balance of tables and guests is not upset – ensuring that you have a table when you need one”
A more honest approach would have been to say, “Its been working since 1937, so who are you to question? Just order your food from the distracted kitchen help, stand around for awhile, then try to guess when they throw your order on the counter. Got your food? Good. Now you can see if there is still a table left for you. If not, the john in back might be free.”
Overall – our Beacon Hill dining experience was a disappointing, overpriced, unfriendly bust.