This French Bistro is located on Tremont Street in the heart of the South End. Executive chef/owner Seth Woods has created a sophisticated & modern dining experience with an ambitious cocktail & wine menu. I have been to Aquitaine for drinks in the past and recall sitting at their cozy bar, looking out onto Tremont. I’ve heard nothing but positive comments about their menu and was looking forward to some fine French cuisine.
Bread: I like when restaurants deliver one roll per person in the party, which often ensures that no bread will go to waste. Although knowing me or the people I dine with, if they were to bring extras it most certainly wouldn’t be left behind. Served on a bread plate, each roll was like an individual mini loaf; freshly made & served with warm butter, the crunchy roll gave way to a soft & light interior. I also must add, before the bread was presented, we were given four “gougeres”. I’m a dummy when it comes to French cuisine and can’t even pronounce “gougeres”, but each was a round bread puff no larger than a golf ball. Flakey & light with a bite of cayenne pepper flavor!
Menu: The Appetizers, Entrees, and Sides were accompanied by a Plat Du Jour category which led me to believe that each plate of the day was made from ingredients gathered that morning. There were a variety of entree choices that ranged from pasta to lamb to seafood to chicken to steak, which worked well for my party since I tend to choose a pasta or steak and my boyfriend & mother prefer fish. The dessert list was extensive, written on a raised chalk board just in front of our table.
Presentation: My mother & I split the Belgian Endive Salad with tart apple, Roquefort, walnuts & parsley to start. I’m not a fan of sharing food and I like to take my time when eating, so I was happy to see that they split the salad on two plates for us. The slightly bitter endive with the blue cheese Roquefort and tart & sweet apple was a great combination. I continued with the Steak Frites with périgord black truffle vinaigrette, watercress shallot salade, and natural jus. Served in three even sections in a row: frites, strips of medium rare steak, greens. The fries were good but I couldn’t get enough of the shallot salad paired with the tender meat.
We all decided to split the Profiteroles with vanilla bean ice cream & hot chocolate sauce. The plate came with three profiteroles sprinkled with powdered sugar, the puff pastries sandwiching the vanilla ice cream. The pastry itself was soft enough to cut into with a spoon and the warm chocolate sauce came in a gravy-type pouring dish for individual serving.
Bathroom: By far the most creative bathroom I’ve seen in a while. The scattered large tile mosaic floor set a modern scene, as did 75% of the walls which were covered (floor to ceiling) with wine bottle labels. I also appreciated the full length mirror, because sometimes a girl just needs to make sure everything’s in place.
Wait Staff: When asked what kind of chardonnay they carry, Emma was able to list them off the top of her head which I always find impressive. She was sweet, attentive, and a joy to have waiting on us. She knows the area well and educated us on the surrounding hot spots, including the Franklin Cafe which is a “go to” for the staff post-work since it’s open until 2am, seven days a week (http://www.franklincafe.com/).
Overall: With their moderate prices, knowledgable wait staff, and sophisticated decor, I would absolutely recommend Aquitaine for any type of dining experience. I’d like to return for a Sunday brunch, or with my girlfriends and look further into their creative cocktail menu.
The Perfect Bite: The Profiteroles were a perfect end to the evening, but I often say that vanilla ice cream is a waste of my time. The steak was cooked perfectly (not too tough, not too chewy), and when paired with the vinaigrette covered greens I wasn’t surprised that I cleaned my plate.