Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Beacon Hill Bistro

Leah picked the Beacon Hill Bistro for our November dinner for one reason only: on the website, they advertise this Flight of Three Coffee Drinks with Homemade Chocolates--
Swiss Coffee, Irish Coffee, Keoki Coffee. And the rest of hte menu sounds lovely also--Chocolate Fondant with Cocoa Foam and Pistachio Ice Cream, Selection of Petits Fours with a Petit Crème Brulée, Rhubarb Clafouti with Macerated Strawberries and Milk Ice Cream...So we're very excited, and we get to the restaurant feeling both somewhat down. For starters, it's odd to be on Charles Street and be with a female friend and walk into a restaurant, grab a table for two and sit amongst the white-hairs and upstanding families. No doubt they thought we were out on a date or something--because usually young people don't go to nice restaurants except for on that reason. Feeling conspicuous I ordered some Russian River Pinot, consulted the menu and tried to relax. I wasn't in the mood for chicken, having had Sonsie fried chicken for lunch. But the tagliatelle sounded interesting--with pesto (I love anything pesto), cheese, walnuts and pomegranate. And Leah decided in a moment of bravery to get the rabbit braise with pumpkin gnocci. It was an old rabbit, I told her, since she was feeling weird about eating rabbits. The meat would be tough, otherwise they would not braise it. She put her animal-rights misgivings away and we dug into the bread basket. Not ten minutes later our food arrived in bowls and I found myself looking at a mound of pasta perched atop a pool of oil. Even if it was EVOO it didn't look all that appetizing.

We talked about drinking too much, trying to impress our coworkers and trying to fit into the adult lives it's about time we grew up into. Leah is 28 and I'm 26. I was sad that night about losing some friends a few months back and in general felt like I was and am a woman up for adventure with some meek companions around. The atmosphere of BHB was overwhelming and made us dissociate. We felt like we were sitting in a subway car and, since I'd been dreaing about Alaska that week, we talked about road trips, the great West Coast, and getting out of town for a while. I daydreamed about making my way to Napa for wine harvest, whenever that may be. I've started to feel like my friends elsewhere (which is to say NYC and SF) would be happier if I were there than here. And I'd mostly like to get a manuscript out. So Leah braved the rabbit--it feels like chicken, she said, but it doesn't taste that way--and wondered how else it might be served. Stuffed, poached, grilled? What would a presentation of rabbit look like? I chewed my tagliatelle adn crunched my way through the pomegranate seeds. The idea sounded interesting but was ill-executed and the pesto was not worthy of the name. Mostly it was overly-large green chucks as if torn by hand and drippy pools of oil. I guess I like my pesto on the garlicky side, but it did not have much taste despite the copious amount of black peper the waitress poured on. We discussed my chef/fishing story--which will be great when it is finished--and how to make it more gruesome. And then we were handed the dessert menu which featured the following unsightly combinations:

jasmine creme brulee
coconut mousse with passionfruit sorbet and lemongrass basil syrup
warm chocolate cake with baked apples and caramel ice cream

and other such bad-asian-fusion combinations. Since I'm working on the jasmine lime cakes we went with the brulee and ordered the coconut mousse also. There were other things on the menu--tarragon ice cream or some such savorry spice. The waitress brought the creme brulee, which had orange slices fanned atop the crust and which I moved aside lest they water it down. She forgot the coconut mousse having gone to look up the coffee flight which, in her year plus of working there, she'd never hear of. We poked our way through the gray, decent brulee and waited for the mousse. Even though it was comped we should have skipped it because, as I commented upon biting into something that tasted like whipped egg whites, it was the worst mousse ever! While it no doubt had coconut milk, the taste was dimly coconutty, like the aftertaste of an almond joy in your mouth five minutes later. The sorbet was fine--pretty good for a passionfruit sorbet, much better than the Emack and Bolio's version. The syrup, though intriguing, was dripped below the mousse and was a little too subtle to really enjoy. Perched atop the sorbet was the worst tuile ever--it tasted sticky yet stale and I flung it to the side of the plate in disgust without offering some to Leah. I took several bites, analyzing why precisely the mousse was awful. I'm not sure how it was constructed but I would have based it in a white chocolate or something, infused with coconut. It didn't taste creamy at all, only eggy--the same mouth feel as a souffle, and clearly not the same ingredients or preparation as the baked tower. New pastry chef, we found out. Upon taking a bathroom trip I saw five tables eating the chocolate apple caramel concontion which appears to be the only decent dessert they feature. It may be good but who wants to pair chocolate with apples? First it has to sound good.

Off we shuffled into the night, heading for more happening parts of town and trying to digest the dis-ease in our stomachs the expensive meal failed to wash away.

Next month, I'm deciding between Oleanna, Tangierino, and Hammersley's. Unless the menu at Eastern Standard changes to something I'll eat.