I found Rustic Kitchen on OpenTable.com when looking for a 7pm reservation on the Saturday night before Valentine’s Day. I had never heard of this restaurant so I checked out the website and learned that not only do they have an impressive menu, but they film a live cooking show in a studio in the restaurant – very cool. Located in Back Bay’s Park Square, I originally thought it was associated with the Park Plaza Hotel which led me to believe this was more of an upscale establishment. Upon entering I realized it’s actually attached to the Radisson, which is a notch or two below the Park Plaza’s status. This made no difference, I was still excited for the evening ahead!
Bread: 4 slices were served on a square plated with olives and a white bean dip. The bread was soft and doughy, not bad. The bean dip was a little too watery for my liking, lacking texture/substance.
Menu: The options were endless: Italian and Seafood Starters, Pizza, Salads, Rustic Comfort Classics, Hand Crafted Pasta, Fresh From the Docks, Rustic Italian Steakhouse. I was of course eyeing the Tagliatelle Bolognese and after the waiter confirmed it was exceptional I just had to order it. This special occasion called for an appetizer as well, so I went with the Tuna Tartar.
Tuna Tartar with spicy chile sauce, avocado & pistachio crackers:
The tuna app came in a massive mound with the 2 crackers sticking out of the middle, linked together by circles of thinly sliced red onion. This was unlike any tuna tartar I’ve had in the past. First of all, it was huge and could have easily fed 2-3 people; second, the consistency was mushier than I’m used to. Most tartars consist of finely cubed pieces of raw tuna but this one had all different shapes and sizes which made for an odd texture. I did appreciate the chunks of avocado though!
Tagliatelle Bolognese with an authentic creamy meat sauce served over rich egg noodle with grated Grana Padano cheese:
The pasta came in one of the coolest bowls I’ve ever seen. Not only did it have a place holder for my fork, but also a small circular indentation in place of a spoon, to use for twirling the noodles around the fork – brilliant! I wish I could say the same for the entrée. It was good, but the pasta was too thin and over cooked for my liking. I have no complaints about the meat or sauce, it’s just that I’ve have many a Bolognese in my day and I have high expectations. It’s my favorite dish of all time, after all! 🙂
Mango Sorbet with chocolate chip biscotti:
Topped with berries and 2 biscottis – and our waiter had already brought us 2 additional biscottis for Matt’s coffee (slash Dena’s enjoyment). The sorbet was refreshing and the biscotti was thin, crunchy, and paired perfectly when dipped in Matt’s coffee!
Bathroom: Located outside (down the hall) of the actual restaurant. Since it’s shared with the Radisson patrons there wasn’t much décor etc to connect it with Rustic Kitchen, but it was clean, modern, and had plenty of space.
Wait Staff: Gustavo was fantastic! One of the best waiters I’ve ever had. I honestly felt like a VIP. At the beginning of our night we were looking over the wine list and Gustavo immediately offered to bring us a tasting of two wine types that we knew we enjoyed (Malbec, Merlot). Usually I take a shot in the dark (not much of a wine connoisseur) but with his help we were able to choose a bottle we knew we’d love. He was just as helpful the rest of the evening, being honest with his recommendations of certain dishes/drinks. If it wasn’t creepy I would have given him a hug on the way out.
Overall: The décor was quite “rustic” with stone columns and brick walls, and the overall atmosphere was quite casual. The lighting was interesting – above each booth looked like an upside down lily. Gustavo absolutely made the night! The prices matched the portions (above average prices = large amount of food), but the dishes themselves were average. I’d give it another shot and return for the Cooking Show, no doubt about it.
The Perfect Bite/Sip: Biscotti dipped in coffee. Also, my Chocolate Covered Strawberry Martini. I don’t handle straight liquor very well, but this literally tasted like a liquid chocolate strawberry (which is one of my favorite foods). And judge me if you like, but dipping the biscotti in my martini wasn’t too shabby either.