Ostra

Screenshot 2014-01-16 20.19.47For a city on the water, there aren’t enough seafood restaurants in Boston that are worth bragging about. Neptune Oyster, obviously. Island Creek Oyster Bar, of course. Union Oyster House, sure. Are you sensing a trend? It was time for a change, for someone to really make a new statement in the seafood world. Enter Ostra!

Part of the Columbus Hospitality Group, Ostra joins Mistral, Sorellina, Mooo…, Teatro, and Burlington’s L’Andana as the newest addition to Chef Jamie Mammano’s impressive resume. Following in the footsteps of his previous restaurants – excluding the casual TeatroOstra is an upscale, fine-dining establishment, with top-notch service, a sophisticated and elegant atmosphere, serving high quality food with sky-high prices to match.

Fingerling potato and onion ciabatta bread was served with a side of softened butter sitting in a shallow pool of EVOO. Slightly warm, pre-cut and easy to tear; we were not disappointed when they brought us another loaf after we devoured the first.

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I started by splitting a “salad”: Crisp Snow Pea, Sunchoke, Watermelon Radish, Sunflower Sprouts, Bianco Sardo Champagne Vinaigrette. I put salad in quotes because there’s no actual lettuce or greens. This is strictly a plate of crunchy lightly dressed vegetables, which was a welcomed change to a typical leafy salad appetizer.
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Compliments of the chef, we received a mid-course tasting of Ricotta Gnocchetti, Maine Lobster, Beech Mushrooms, and Truffle. This dish now appears on the menu, and I highly recommend it! With what I’m assuming is house made pasta and large chunks of lobster, you can’t go wrong.
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For the main course I ordered the Grilled King Salmon, Heirloom Squash Velouté, Market Vegetable Rôtí. I don’t think I’ve ever seen salmon served in two thin pieces, rather than a single filet. Doesn’t matter to me as long as it’s a decent portion, which this was. Squash puree and grilled vegetables to accompany, my favorite!
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The Perfect Bite of the evening was hands down the Baked Apple: crumble, cider caramel, brown butter ice cream. This presentation was the most impressive: a thick slice of baked apple sits among the crumble and caramel on the bottom of the plate and is topped with a waffle shaped pie crust-like piece. Finish with a dollop of brown butter ice cream and an intricate design of crispy apple skin… and voilà! We ordered 1 for the 4 of us. Big mistake!
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Ostra is completely stunning; from the lounge (soon to feature nightly live piano music) with its high-backed chairs and booths, to the sleek bar, the fish on ice display, the jellyfish-like chandeliers… everything about Ostra is completely elegant. Even the bathroom is crisp and pristine. The service is of course of fine-dining standards, as are the prices. This was a special occasion meal for me and my family, and I’d go back for another one in a heartbeat.
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http://www.ostraboston.com

Capital Grill

I’ve never been to a steak house for Restaurant Week, and have never dined at Capital Grill in general, so was really looking forward to this meal. Hitting up a steak house – or any fine-dining, high-priced restaurant – is my new game plan for Boston’s Restaurant Week, as this is the best way to get your bang for the ($38.13) buck.

Capital Grill‘s Restaurant Week menu has a few options per course, and offers its steak house classics. While the salmon did sound excellent I couldn’t not have steak during my first Capital Grill experience. Below is the Summer 2013 Restaurant Week menu and the dishes I chose.

APPETIZER
Caesar Salad
Clam Chowder
Fields Greens with Shallot Champagne
This salad was simple, light and delicious. The greens were perfectly dressed with the shallot champagne vinaigrette. The dish really only consisted of greens, carrots, and tomatoes, but it left an impact! I’d order this again in a heartbeat.
IMG_5679ENTRÉE
Breast of Chicken Confit
Bone-In Dry Aged Sirloin Steak 14oz
Seared Citrus Glazed Salmon
Parmesan and Herb Marinated Tournedos
Filet Mignon 8oz
At non-steak houses I always order steak medium rare and they typically come out looking more like medium. Here I ordered my filet medium, knowing that it would come out perfectly pink and juicy on the inside, which it did. My friend ordered her filet medium rare and she got just that, with the inside of the steak mainly pink with areas of rare red meat. The filet was not only cooked perfectly but was well seasoned and better than I expected.
IMG_5680Capital Grill offers a choice of 2 sides to accompany your main course: Sam’s Mashed Potatoes, and French Green Beans with Shallots and Heirloom Tomatoes. I was intending on ordering the green beans but the waiter said he’d bring us a side of each for the table to share. Can’t argue there! I’m glad I had a chance to taste the mashed potatoes because they were excellent; smooth and creamy with a few chunks of potato skin in the mix.
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DESSERT
Classic Crème Brûlée
Strawberries Capital Grill
Handcrafted Ice Cream
Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake
This was kind of a no brainier for me. I don’t frequent steak houses often but hear they typically make a mean chocolate cake. The flourless chocolate espresso cake was dense, and smooth like fudge.  Paired well with the whipped cream and raspberries.
IMG_5683I have to also mention the bread basket. The dark brown pumpernickel-looking slices were incredible, warm and soft with a few specks of raisins. I didn’t try the rolls but the cracker bread was also top notch. The bread was served with softened salted butter.
IMG_0002This was my only Restaurant Week reservation this season but I was 1 for 1, with a successful meal at Capital Grill! I didn’t inspect the regular menu but would highly suggest heading here for Restaurant Week.

Cafeteria Boston

 

Bread: No bread was served.

Menu: Well rounded offerings of contemporary American cuisine: Starters, Big Salads, Pizzas, Sandwiches, Burgers, Entrees, Plate du Jour, Sides. Each section has plenty to choose from and the prices are quite reasonable, with the most expensive item being the Scallop entrée at $26.

Food/Presentation:
Tacos – your choice of mahi-mahi, chicken or steak, pickled cabbage, radish, spicy crema, salsa verde
The tacos are in the Starters section and come 4 to a plate, meant to share as an appetizer. I knew I’d be picking at my mom’s parmesan fries that came with her turkey burger, so 4 fish tacos was a perfect dinner for me. The mahi-mahi was thankfully grilled (not fried like typical fish tacos) and came with a dusting of chipotle powder perhaps? There was a small kick to it but maybe that was the spicy crema. These were really great, for an app to share or as an entrée!

Bathroom: There are 2 unisex single rooms stalls complete with a bowl sink (which I love), a pretty flower display, and automatic hand dryers.

Service: Our server was personable, friendly, and complimented my headband which automatically gives her points 🙂 She suggested the Sparkling Sangria, which my mother & I ordered a jar of, and mentioned the Mahi-Mahi Tacos were a customer favorite. I was already planning on ordering the fish tacos based on a friend’s recommendation and our server’s comment sealed the deal for me. Both of her suggestions were spot on! 

Overall: Cafeteria is my go-to spot on Newbury Street and one of my top 3 Back Bay favorites when looking for reasonable prices and great food. The menu is extensive with a little something for everyone. Starters, Big Salads, Sandwiches, and Burgers range from $8-$16, while Pizzas and Entrees run $11-$26. We ordered a jar of the Sparkling Sangria for $18 which held about 3-4 glasses. They have other creative cocktails and a decent wine and beer selection. The interior is at “Garden Level” which is fancy for the basement (however they have stairs that lead to a 1st floor level which I’ve never seen). This was about my 5th time at Cafeteria and I’ve never been disappointed. I highly suggest you stop by, especially while you can enjoy their patio seating.

The Perfect Bite: Mahi-Mahi Tacos, spicy crema, pickled cabbage… should have added avocado!

http://www.cafeteriaboston.com/

For more photos & descriptions of what everyone in my party ate, visit my Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/ThePerfectBiteBoston