I’ve been to Masa once in the past, possibly 2-3 years ago for Restaurant Week. When I looked at the menu last week it was nothing like what I remembered from the RW menu on my first visit. Offering South Western cuisine with a contemporary American flair, Masa‘s Executive Chef Philip Aviles has created an inspired menu with twists and classic favorites.
The restaurant is dimly lit with chandeliers and sconces, and the dining room holds booths, banquette seating, and free standing tables while the bar seats about 10 and has high-tops for apps or dinner reservations. We’re led to a high-top banquette in the bar area, closest to the open windows so we could feel the cool spring breeze.
Bread: Country bread and corn bread were served with molasses- honey butter, red pepper cream cheese, and habanero hummus. Both breads were great but the corn bread was amazing, especially with the molasses-honey butter. The hummus was my favorite to pair with the country bread. Really great bread basket and accompaniments, I just wish they gave you more than a tablespoon size of each spread.
Menu: The Tapas menu (served only in the bar area) offers $1 bite-size tapas and $5-$14 Picaditas which are more of an appetizer size dish. The Dinner menu consists of First Course, Main Course, and Sides. Luckily we were seated in the bar area so we had access to the Tapas menu, which was a blessing and a curse b/c it provided too many sections to choose from! Do I go with 3 Tapas and an Entrée? Or maybe a Picadita and a First Course dish? There were a lot of possible combinations which made for an interesting meal.
Shredded Chicken Taquito with Chipotle Aioli (tapas menu)
I decided to order a couple of tapas items to start, one being the chicken taquito. If you order tapas it is presented family-style on one plate; the taquito can be seen in the back of the photo. The chicken was wrapped in a tortilla, fried, and placed on a dollop of chipotle aioli. I could have eaten many more of these, but there was more food coming!
Tuna Tartare Taco with Chile Lime & Avocado (tapas menu)
Along with the taquito I ordered 2 tuna tartare tacos (the other 2 were for Matt). Chopped rare tuna and avocado always pairs well with a crispy taco shell and chipotle aioli. I enjoy small bites and this was a great way to start the meal without leaving me prematurely full before the entrees.
Negra Modelo Braised Pork Shoulder & Sauce Borracha with Port & Fig Jam, Baby Arugula, & Garlic Whipped Potatoes
A small mound of pork shoulder sits on a scoop of whipped potatoes and is topped with the arugula mix; three spoonfuls of fig jam were dotted around the plate. The pork was excellent and fell apart nicely with zero fatty parts in sight. I adore anything fig but for me it felt like an unnecessary addition to this savory dish. I enjoyed it with the pork every other forkful but didn’t love when it mixed with the potatoes. A minor criticism for this truly enjoyable entrée.
Chipotle Chocolate Ice Cream, Papaya Sorbet, Hibiscus Sorbet
One small scoop of each came dusted with powdered sugar, the two sorbets together and the ice cream in a separate ramekin. The sorbets were excellent, with the Papaya’s strong fruity flavor stealing the show for me. The ice cream was different but we knew it would be when ordering Chipotle Chocolate. It had a somewhat cakey consistency, and didn’t seem to be cold (although I’m pretty sure it was) b/c after each bite my mouth was pretty much on fire. The chipotle chocolate was a confusing contradiction of hot & spicy ice cream, something I’ve never experienced before! It was interesting, great for a small taste, but I’d never be able to eat an entire bowl/cone.
Bathroom: Mirror, mirrors, on every wall! Maybe I’m obsessed with full length mirrors b/c I don’t have one at home, but I always appreciate seeing the full picture, head to toe. Besides seeing my reflection every where I turned (I swear I’m not a narcissist), the women’s room had 2 stalls and 2 sinks, and a couple of decorations to match the restaurant’s décor.
Service: We were seated at a high-top in the bar area, which I originally was slightly disappointed about, but it worked out for the best b/c this section was a bit more upbeat and it allowed us to order off of the Tapas menu. Our waitress was friendly, informative, and delivered everything in good time.
Overall: When we arrived at 7pm Masa was lively and energetic with a packed bar. As the night went on it emptied out a bit by the time we left a little before 9pm. I love Masa’s multiple menus, and would from now on request to sit in the bar in order to have Tapas as an option. I’d like to also note that the Tapas are 50 cents on Thursdays, and every other night from 4pm-7pm and 10pm-close. Makes for a great happy hour spot, especially with their tasty beverages like the Raspberry Mojito. I am looking forward to returning; there are so many tapas, picaditas, and apps I need to try!
The Perfect Bite: It’s hard to beat a tuna tartare taco when it’s done right.
For more photos & descriptions of what everyone in my party ate, visit my Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/ThePerfectBiteBoston