>> Thursday, May 31, 2012
As I get older I am sometimes appalled at how inaccurate my memory is.
Has this happened to you before? You swear by a certain memory until a photograph from the time period totally proves you wrong - like 100% wrong. No wonder eyewitness testimonies only hold so much weight.
Having said that, there are certain memories - the types that induce a certain deja-vu moment - that remain long after your conscious memory has forgotten about it.
I swear this happened when I walked into Bond Boston a few weeks back.
Bond Boston is in the Langham Hotel. This building was formerly the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, which explains both the restaurant name and all the money references throughout (large dollar bill murals on the wall, a vault in the basement, etc). I had been invited to attend a media tasting of Bond Boston's new spring menu here.
The moment I walked into Bond Boston, I instantly felt a sense of familiarity.
The super high ceilings, the chandeliers, the location right inside of a fancy hotel.
It all seemed so familiar. Then it hit me.
I turned to Bryan. "Doesn't this look like Julian? Look at the ceilings. Do you think it's the same space?"
We had gone to a restaurant called Julian for a special occasion dinner back in college. It was one of our first "fancy" dates. It was the first time we had ever enjoyed a free amuse bouche before a meal. I still remember being absolutely tickled by the the "free" grapefruit sorbet palate cleanser that they passed out between dinner and dessert.
The Sawbuck: Greygoose la poire, domaine de canton, fresh lime juice, basil leaf
Bryan had wanted to go there because they had these cushy armchairs you could sit in. For some reason, he thought that was so cool.
"No. That was in another hotel," he quickly replied.
Seeing as he's often right, and I tend to doubt my memory so much anyway, I took him at his word.
It wasn't until much later, as we were talking to the chef at the end of the evening, that he happened to mention "Julian" in passing.
"Wait," I interrupted, "did you say Julian?"
Indeed he had. My hunch was correct. We were sitting in the very space that we sat in fourteen years ago on our first "fancy" date.
Fourteen years is a long time. The traditional high-society French restaurant with the high-backed armchairs that Bryan loved so much is long gone. In its place sits a trendy bar that serves excellent cocktails and decent bites where, if you just look up, elements of glamour from its former life still linger.
If you look down, you'll notice that the high backed armchairs have been replaced with all sorts of comfortable seating, from plush couches to soft leather chairs. It makes for a much more relaxed dining experience. You sort of feel like you're sitting in someone's living room enjoying cocktails and savory bites.
We started with some homemade kettle chips, which were fantastic.
I must confess. I was really late. Bryan (patient guy that he is), held off on eating all the mouthwatering plates of food that were piling up in front of him so that I could take pictures when I arrived. He refrained from everything except these delicious house made chips, which were wonderfully crunchy and all around fantastic.
Stracchino Cheese and Heirloom Tomatoes
Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic
We moved onto these beautifully presented heirloom tomatoes filled with Stracchino cheese. I enjoyed the bigger tomatoes because they were stuffed with more cheese, thus giving a better cheese to tomato ratio. The green tomatoes had a pretty tough exterior (I think they are like this by nature), which made the entire piece a bit more difficult to eat. Although these were decent, they suffered from the fact that tomatoes just don't taste that good in the spring here in Boston. The tomatoes weren't super sweet, were a bit tough, and somewhat bland in flavor.
Grilled Baby Corn with Espelette
Cotija Cheese, Aioli, and Lime
I'd never seen fresh baby corn, so I was tickled at the idea of trying some here. These were nicely charred, though I thought perhaps they were a bit undersalted. Bryan didn't like the addition of the lime juice, which I accidentally squirted over the entire dish. Oops!
Sweet Soy and Ginger Chicken Wings
These sweet soy ginger chicken wings were perfectly charred and nicely seasoned. I really liked the addition of the crystallized ginger on each "lollipop", which added a nice gingery kick to the wing.
Crispy Point Judith Calamari
Sweet Chili, Black Sesame, and Cilantro
The crispy calamari definitely had Asian flavors, reminding me of the Thai style calamari from Legal Sea Foods. It was sweet, spicy, and was pretty flavorful. The texture was decent, and overall it was a pretty enjoyable dish.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Shrimp, Chicken and Spicy Peanut Sauce
The spring rolls were fine, although because it's so easy to make these at home, it wouldn't be the first thing I would be inclined to order.
Flat Bread Pizza
Great Hill Blue, Grilled Stone Fruit, Pancetta, Arugula
Neither of us were huge fans of the pizza. The crust was thin but a bit too chewy for my tastes. Additionally, I found the blue cheese flavor to be too overpowering. Finally, I found the pizza to be overall too salty. I would not order this.
Lobster and Chorizo Quesadilla
Queso blanco and Sweet Corn
The lobster and chorizo quesadilla was Bryan's favorite dish of the night. It was not particularly memorable to me, but I do remember thinking it was reasonably tasty.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Brown Butter Ice Cream, Bookers Whiskey Caramel
The sticky toffee pudding was originally a winter menu item and was meant to be seasonal. However, it was so popular that the chef just could not bear to take it off the menu. I'm so glad he did not! This was by far our favorite dessert of the night. It is fantastic - the cake is super moist and gorgeously deep and rich with the Bookers whiskey caramel. It went perfectly with the decadent brown butter ice cream.
Strawberry Rhubarb Gratin
Marscapone Mousse, Mint, Black Pepper Sable
The bartender brought over this bright, vivid drink to pair with the strawberry rhubarb gratin, which was nice and refreshing.
Milk Chocolate Powder, Guanaja Ice Cream, White Chocolate Brulee, Smoked Chocolate Cake
The Langham Hotel is famous for their all-you-can-eat chocolate bar. I've done it once. It's kind of crazy, and definitely not something you want to do too often! They gave us various tastes from the chocolate buffet. All the components were pretty tasty, though at the end of the day I was still dreaming about that sticky toffee pudding . . .
I also ran into some other local food bloggers. From left to right - Meghan from Travel, Wine, and Dine, Lindsey from Beantown Eats, Dean (Bill's guest), Bill from Boston Foodie, Daisy from Indulge Inspire Imbibe, and Megan from Delicious Dishings.
It was nice seeing the old space where Bryan and I had one of our first ever "fancy" dates. Though it brought back certain memories, I was also shocked at how little I remember. I tried digging up a photo, but I don't think we took one.
As for Bond Boston, it's kind of a fun place. There's jazz on Tuesday nights. The cocktails are quite good, and the food is not bad, with a few gems here and there. I probably wouldn't trek all the way out from Cambridge to come here. After all, aside from the cool space, the food doesn't necessary make it a destination-worthy location. However, if I'm staying at the Langham Hotel, or if I happen to be nearby and feel like having a drink, this is a perfectly acceptable place in which to sit back, listen to some jazz, and relax with a drink.
250 Franklin Street
Boston, MA 02110
Disclaimer - I did not pay for this meal. All of the opinions expressed in this post are my own.