Thursday, August 21, 2008

Eastern Standard: Dinner at the Bar

While driving through Kenmore Square, I was considering grabbing a burger at Uburger. It was still a bit early for dinner time, before 5pm, so some of the other restaurants in the square were not yet open. But I caught out of the corner of my eye that there were people sitting outside on the patio in front of Eastern Standard. I have never been there but had heard some good things about the restaurant. So I decided to give it a try.

I chose to skip the large outside patio area and sit in the bar area. Their main restaurant area was not yet open. The bar is named the Ann Corio Lounge & Porch, after a famous burlesque dancer and a picture of her hangs in the lounge. This is a very comfortable and compelling lounge, with marble tables and red leather couches. The bar is over forty feet long and seats 22 people. The lounge can be an intimate area, perfect for couples, though it is also conducive to large groups. The rest of the restaurant gives off a very hip vibe, a good fit for Kenmore Square.

There is an extensive list of cocktails though I chose to check out their wine list by the glass. There were about 15-20 choices with about eight different Roses available. I love a good Rose during the summer so it was nice to see so many choices. The wines by the glass ranged from about $7-$14 though they had a special on Roses where you could try two for $10. The sounded good to me so I began with a 2007 Skylark Pink Belly Rose from Mendocino and a 2005 Ramian "Highland Vineyard" Rose from Napa.

My server, Melissa, brought the wine bottles to my table and poured the wine into my glasses. It was a generous pour and thus a very good value for $10. The Skylark was a fruity Rose with a lovely nose and a very good taste. It is definitely a more New World Rose. The Ramian was a very different Rose, a more full bodied wine with more of a taste of apricots and even herbal notes. But then it is a little older of a Rose. It went well though with my food.

I did order a couple more Roses later on during my meal, including a 2007 Lanier Zweigelt Rose and and Gamay Rose (the name escaping me). The Zweigelt was pure pleasure, an Old World Rose with plenty of subtle flavor and complexity. The Gamay Rose did not thrill me as much, seemingly a tinge bitter.

The bar food menu has of appetizers and sandwiches, priced from $5-$19 with an average of about $10. I decided to start with the Steak Tartare ($12), which is a dish I usually enjoy very much. When it came to my table, the Tartare looked like a thick, raw hamburger as it was compressed into a round patty. All of the spices and ingredients were already mixed into the meat. It was accompanied by small, thin slices of baguette and a few cornichons. Plus, it came with a side of french fries. That was a good amount of food for the price, the fries being a nice extra. I smeared the Tartare on the baguettes and savored the tasty meat. A very good Tartare. The fries were thin and cripsy on the outside, with a fluffy interior. I definitely enjoyed them as well. All in all, a very tasty dish and a good value.

I then decided on the Baked Raclette ($10). This creamy cheese included pieces of Sauternes poached-apples which added a nice sweetness to the dish. Plus it came with several long slices of warmed baguette, perfect for smearing the cheese atop. The bread was very good and I almost wanted to scrape the dish clean to get all of the cheese. Another very tasty dish!

During my meal, the restaurant opened so I was able to order off of their regular menu. I just wanted one more appetizer and decided on the Crispy Frog Legs ($11) with a smoked butter sauce and fennel slaw. I know that many people get squeamish about frog legs, especially when you see them on a plate as they look exactly like frog legs. There is no concealing what they are. But they are tasty, and yes and they do kind of share a taste like chicken. You definitely should get past your fright and try them. When cooked right, they are very delicious. And these frog legs were done well. They were meaty and moist with a nice crispy coating. A good choice.

I still had a bit of room left so I checked out the dessert menu. The Beignets ($7) sounded good to me. There were five small beignets that looked like fluffy, fried pillows. They had a bourbon caramel sauce on them and there was a dish of coffee cream for dipping. Decadently delicious and a fitting ending to an excellent dinner.

Service was very good. Overall, this was a very good introduction to Eastern Standard and I will definitely return. The food is delicious, very reasonably priced and I enjoyed the wines as well. I recommend you check it out as well. Check it out before or after a Red Sox game. Have a drink there after work. Or while away a summer afternoon on their patio.

Eastern Standard
528 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA
Phone: 617-532-9110

Eastern Standard on Urbanspoon

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