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

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Farmstead Table

Farmstead Table is a small farm-to-table restaurant, tucked away on Union Street in Newton Center. The menu is constantly evolving based on the local and seasonally available ingredients. Which means you can go back every couple of months and always have a variety a of new items to chose from 🙂 Although I hope it doesn’t change too frequently, because there were about 4 entrees on the menu that I desperately wanted to try.

The three I missed out on: Lentil and Sweet Potato Stuffed Cabbage (shiitakes, celery root puree, roasted carrots mutsu apple); Grilled Scottish Salmon (sweet potato puree, roasted cauliflower); and the Halibut special that came with butternut squash two ways (puree, roasted), and roasted brussel sprouts. I try not to repeat restaurants since there are so many I want to try, but I may be heading back to Farmstead Table sooner rather than later.

Thick slices of bread was served, one for each of us. It tasted like a subtle rye and was served with whipped softened butter.

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White Bean Hummus
Luckily the hummus came out soon after the bread; it is served with only a few slices of carrots which is not nearly enough for the amount of hummus that was given. More crudités please! We fortunately spread some hummus on our bread, which was perfect.

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Hadley Parsnip Soup: hazelnuts, clove, pomegranate reduction
I have trouble resisting soup, especially any kind of vegetable puree. This cup of parsnip soup was a great start to the meal; extremely smooth with hazelnuts for crunch and texture. I’m glad I didn’t miss out on this one.

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Braised Lamb Shank Ragù: hand-cut pappardelle, red wine mushrooms, parsnip cream, pecorino romano
I also have trouble resisting pasta. However, this was the perfect choice for me, because I wasn’t hungry enough to have hummus, soup, and a full entree. Luckily they offered a 1/2 portion of the lamb shank ragù. The $14 price was a little steep for the small appetizer size, but it was really good, so I don’t mind paying for a good quality meal. There was plenty of lamb and mushrooms in the dish, I just wish there were a few more noodles!

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I forget exactly what was on the dessert menu, but I do recall seeing a line about S’mores that I tried to avoid looking directly at. If I read the full description I’m sure I would have forced myself to order and eat the entire thing. I scanned the rest and definitely saw at least 3 options that I would have had in a heartbeat, but I was honestly stuffed to the brim. Oh well, maybe next time!

The prices at Farmstead Table are moderate for Boston/Newton; all entrees were in the $20 range, with the Rib-Eye Steak taking the top spot at $29. The appetizers were a little pricer as apps go, $8-$14. I drank only water but my friends noticed that the wine was pricey (I think the least expensive choice was around $14). The service was great, our waiter was attentive, refilled our water, checked on us an appropriate amount of times. The interior is warm, cozy, and welcoming. And most importantly, we all absolutely licked our plates clean! I look forward to going back soon.

The Perfect Bite: fork full of pasta with lamb and a cut of mushroom!

http://www.farmsteadtable.com