Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Blue Room: Restaurant Week

Boston Restaurant Week has begun! You now have the opportunity to try three-course lunches ($20.08) and dinners ($33.08) at over 170 participating restaurants. I have made several reservations at local restaurants and went to my first this past Sunday evening.

I had never been to The Blue Room but it came recommended so I decided to give it a try. Plus, their dinner menu for Restaurant Week looked enticing. The restaurant is located on a lower level within a complex of other restaurants and stores. There is patio tables outside the restaurant. Inside, it is fairly large with an open kitchen at one end and a small bar at the other end. It has a causal ambiance, a fun place to drop by after work for a drink or some appetizers. By 7pm, the restaurant was quite busy and I am not sure if that was due to restaurant week or just their usual crowd.

Their wine list is intriguing with many different options, from all over the world. They generally do not carry the usual brand wines but seem to have sought different choices. I very much liked their selection and the prices seemed fairly reasonable, with many bottles under $40. The mark-up on several wines that I knew was less than twice the retail. I chose a bottle of Monte Aribaldo Dolcetto D'Alba ($37). This was a very good wine, versatile so that it pairs well with many different types of food. It had nice fruit flavors with a touch of violet and the tannins were mild.

On their Restaurant Week menu, there were three choices for each of the courses. Prior to our food arriving, we first received a basket of fresh bread with butter. Then, we received a little amuse bouche, a dish of yellow watermelon pieces with mint and feta cheese. The watermelon was juicy and the feta was very good too. A pleasant way to begin the evening.

For the first course, I chose the Equinox Farm baby greens and roasted New Zealand lamb loin with Banyuls vinaigrette. I received five pieces of lamb, more than I expected, and they were quite meaty, tender and tasty. I think though that the vinaigrette needed to be a bit stronger as it did not quite cut through the bitterness of some of the greens. My wife has the hot & sour squid with lime & chilies. She enjoyed that dish very much and the chilies were very hot!

Next up, I chose the Veal "Marsala" with criminis & creamy polenta. The veal was covered with more of a Marsala glaze than in a dish of sauce. The veal was tender and the Marsala was very flavorful, with just a touch of sweetness. The polenta was creamy and delicious, making a nice complement to the veal. I was very pleased with this dish. My wife chose the Roasted Bay End Farm eggplant, with cous cous, yogurt, and toasted chickpeas. Though she liked it, the dish did not impress her. The eggplant, couse cous and chickpeas were all dry and the yogurt was insufficient to moisten up the dish. Also, she did not feel all the different ingredients really worked well together.

For dessert, I chose the Champagne Granita with Verill Farm strawberries and tarragon. The granita was very good, as were the fresh strawberries though the tarragon seemed out of place. My wife chose the Local peach & blueberry crisp. The crisp had a ginger topping which was quite tasty and different for this type of dessert. It worked very well in this dish. The fruit was very good though I think the blueberries overpowered much of the flavor of the peaches.

I also ordered their One Perfect Cheese ($8) and the day's selection was Ader Kase, a type of blue cheese. Though it is of German origin, it is also now made in Wisconsin. The cheese came with crackers, nuts, strawberries and I think kumquats. It was an excellent cheese, much milder than the usual blue cheese. An excellent ending to our meal.

Service was very good and the servers worked well together. Overall, this was a good dining experience though a couple of the dishes couple have been a little better. I like the fact that the restaurant tries to use many local ingredients. They also have a very good wine list. I will return here to check out their usual dinner menu.

The Blue Room
One Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA
Phone: 617-494-9034

Blue Room on Urbanspoon


Sonadora said...

Oh, Boston's dinner is cheaper than DC's. I'm beginning to think it's not such a good deal here anymore. We went out last night, and while the food was fantastic, because the price has gone up to $35.08, you can actually order the same amount of food from the menu for the same price. I was disappointed in that and actually chose to order off the menu since the choices were better than the restaurant week menu.

Richard A. said...

You have to be careful here as well as not all restaurants provide a significant savings. I passed on making reservations at some restaurants because their menu was not compelling or did not seem much of a bargain. But with over 170 restaurants participating, there are some good ones.