>> Monday, July 11, 2011
Every couple months, I check out a new restaurant with a small group of food-loving women from my church. We kicked off our first meeting by dining at Henrietta's Table (good old New England style cuisine). We then moved onto ethnic places, such as authentic Mexican cuisine at Angela's Cafe and the more adventurous Senegalese food at Teranga in the South End.
And then it was time to decide where to go next.
We were intrigued by stories we had heard of a little, cozy Italian restaurant that focused on fresh, local ingredients. It was a restaurant in a tiny corner in Bay Village, the area between Back Bay and the South End. The menu changed daily.
It had received rave reviews from critics and diners alike.
Why, oh why did we choose Restaurant Week, of all weeks, to try this place first?
The food's excellent here. But I would definitely order outside of the Restaurant Week menu, which was a minor disaster.
Duxbury razor claims steamed Trieste style green peppercorns, fennel, and white wine beets
We absolutely loved the razor clams (which, by the way, were not part of the Restaurant Week menu). They had a rich, yet clean flavor, and worked beautifully with the accompanying vegetables. Almost everyone at the table agreed this was a favorite.
The Restaurant Week 3-course menu began with a simple salad starter, which was fine, but nothing particularly exciting.
Vellutata of organic parsnips with house smoked cod 12
We decided to order the "vellutata," a rich soup that was also off the regular menu. We were shocked at how LARGE the bowl was. This soup was the least popular of the bunch, probably because the sweetness of the parsnips overpowered the entire soup. There didn't seem to be enough salt nor umami to balance the sweetness.
Homemade fusilli with housemade burrata cheese, tomatoes, and basil
We all concluded that the pastas, which were all homemade, were excellent. I loved the chewy texture of the fusilli, and naturally I absolutely loved the beautiful combination of burrata, tomatoes, and basil.
Homemade gnocchi with veal ragu
Similarly, the housemade gnocchi was also delicious. The meat ragu was rich and flavorful.
Risotto stuffed jumbo Maine crab
The biggest failure of the night was the dramatically presented crab entree. It was part of the Restaurant Week menu, and essentially was quite undercooked. The risotto was still hard (almost crunchy) inside, hardly acceptable from a textural perspective. I wonder if the kitchen was just overwhelmed and thus undercooked this entree.
Thanksfully, we were partially redeemed with the dessert.
Have you ever heard of eggplant being served as part of a dessert? We sure hadn't so were intrigued by this item. Besides, the waiter told us that eggplant has more nicotine than the tobacco plant. Although his exaggeration was inaccurate (it's actually second after the nicotine plant), the fact that eggplants had nicotine was new to us, so it was still an interesting fact.
This layered dessert was actually pretty good. It was definitely a new way to enjoy eggplant!
The other dark chocolate dessert, which reminded us a bit of brownies, was pretty good - nicely dark and chocolate-y.
Though we had no room, we enjoyed a dew mignardises. I preferred the simple chocolate dusted truffles to the interesting chewy sesame balls.
Overall, I can definitely see that Erbaluce is able to make some fantastic dishes. We all loved their pasta dishes, and some of the appetizers, like the razor clams, were absolutely phenomenal. I like how the menu changes every day, which means you never know what to expect if you return.
The ambiance is romantic, the menu is good, and overall, the cooking is excellent. I would definitely consider returning . . . just not during Restaurant Week.
69 Church St
Boston, MA 02116