Words and Photos by Fred Chang
Restaurant Week or "Dine Out Boston" is always a great chance to eat at fun places at a cheaper price. With this being my senior year, and my last confirmed "Dine Out Boston", I figured, why not splurge and go to Menton? For those of you who do not know what or where Menton is, Menton is Boston's only Triple A 5-Diamond, Forbes 5-Star, and Relais & Chateau-recognized restaurant; Menton holds the distinction of being America's only Relais & Chateau affiliate. Serving refined takes on Italian, French, and American cuisine, Menton is the crown jewel of renowned chef, Barbara Lynch's restaurant group, B&G Gruppo, and was formerly headed by Top Chef Seattle winner, Kristen Kish. The restaurant itself is rather far from BU's campus, being located in the Fort Point neighborhood, around a 15-20 minute walk from the South Station T stop. However, the experience and food is a must during anybody's time here in Boston.
For the Dine Out lunch menu, there were six different dishes, two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts. Additionally, you would have the option of choosing two, three, or five courses. My friend, Joy, and I both decided to go for broke, and opted for the five courses. To start our meal, we were given three kinds of bread: mini baguette, ciabatta, and a honey-sea salt croissant, which is a signature at Menton. The baguette was crusty, crunchy, with just the slightest chew to it. The ciabatta, you could taste the herbs and olive oil, while it was tender. The croissants were flaky, buttery, crisp, and had just a slight sweetness to them from the honey drizzled over them. Joy actually loved the croissants to the point where she asked our waitress for a second helping.
The first of our five course experience was the chicory salad with shaved Parmesan, truffle vinaigrette, and focaccia pangritata. The salad itself featured bitter greens, mainly chicory and treviso, with a highly acidic vinaigrette. The Parmesan was shaved over the top to add a slight creaminess to break the acidity and bitterness. The focaccia was shaved thinly and browned with truffle and herbs in the fashion of pangritata, which is to say in a similar fashion to a Parmesan crisp. That focaccia added a nice texture to finish the salad.
Our second course was the yellowfin tuna crudo with eggplant, olives, and za'atar. The tuna itself was seared on the outside and served in two large blocks. On the side was a swipe of eggplant puree, while served next to the tuna and eggplant were olives that were garnished with eggplant caviar and minced olives, just to follow through with the flavor. The plate was drizzled with a za'atar infused oil; za'atar is a Mediterranean herb blend, typically containing oregano and sesame seeds. As somebody who enjoys the flavors of eggplants and olives, this dish is something I recommend trying.
Our third course was the parsnip cappelletti with almond puree, crispy pancetta, and an herb infused oil. The pasta itself was cooked to a nice al dente and held up to being eaten with a fork. The parsnip puree inside of the pasta was sweet and earthy, just like how parsnips should taste, while the almond puree added a nice creamy texture while mellowing out the sweetness of the parsnip. The herb oil and pancetta both kept the dish distinctly savory, with the pancetta in particular adding a nice textural contrast to the relatively soft textures on the plate.
Our fourth course was the ribeye with salsify, malt, and cipollini onions. The ribeye itself was cooked to rare. At first, it seemed like a mistake, but upon tasting the ribeye and feeling the marbling of the steak, it made perfect sense why the steak was cooked for less time than a traditional sense: if it was cooked any more, then the texture of the meat would have been too tough. At a rare temperature, the steak just melted in the mouth. The salsify, a curiously tube-shaped root vegetable, very similar to a parsnip in flavor but daikon radish in texture, was caramelized beautifully, giving a firm texture and sweet flavor, while the cipollini onions were charred on a plancha to give them a nice, crunchy texture and smoky flavor. Overall, Joy and I agreed that this was our favorite dish of the entire meal.
For desserts, we had two options: an apple cake with vanilla bean glace, golden raisins, walnuts, and apple puree, as well as a chocolate-blood orange tart with hazelnut crumble and an espresso ice cream. The apple cake was very soft; they evidently used the Italian trick of grating an entire apple into the cake batter to yield a moist but tender crumb. The glace was sweet with the flavor of vanilla and the golden raisins added a nice texture with the walnuts to round of the dish. For the chocolate tart, the hazelnuts and chocolate paired beautifully together, and made very an extremely addictive combination. The chocolate crust on the tart was nicely prepared, being crisp, but still utensil-friendly when it came to putting a spoon to it.
The meal was ended with a bowl of mini macarons, complimentary with all meals in Menton. Some of the flavors included chocolate-mint, passionfruit, rose, lavender, and orange blossom. It was a great way to end our lunch experience at one of the best restaurants in Boston.
354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210