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There's a whole lot of "as long as"s and silly "if"s in that above paragraph.

 

Further, I disagree.

 

When people talk up places honestly, they can seriously overrate places because they might have a hidden soft spot for a certain type of cuisine or for dishes that they rarely see or enjoy promoting or be too enthusiastic, etc. I see through all that misty fog w/o any problems. You may too. But I notice that others here and elsewhere don't. And if people don't comment because they are too lazy to do so (for example, me, vis-a-vis that prior link), the resulting thread might be off-base. I plead guilty to being lazy re that restaurant in Ho-something. That place ain't terrific in any sober state of mind and it ain't "very much worth" a river crossing, especially a river crossing that requires changing states and most especially if you arrive in the smelly state of NJ. If you are in Ho-something already or unfortunate enough to live in NJ, sure, it might be a fine choice. (Rail Paul, you don't read Boston threads, do you?)

 

Orik, Wilfrid, Oakster: round up the mouthfuls gang, venture to Ho-something and please do correct me if I'm wrong.

 

 

Breads (9 Grain, The Sea, Barley Flour with Fresh Hops)

i'm so curious - how was this bread?

In fact, that's the description of 3 different types of breads:

 

1. 9 Grain

2. The Sea

3. Barley Flour with Fresh Hops

 

The most interesting one of which was "The Sea".

 

Most of you are now probably sick of listening to Chambo, so I'll let my dining companion's words do the talking:

 

The Sea most likely was squid ink bread, that had the black swirls in the dough under the crust. It tasted of squid ink pasta with the bitter aromatic “shellfish” taste – delicious. I don’t recall too many specifics about the others, except that they were very dense, moist and chewey, and had a pretty earthy taste. All great, in my opinion.

The description of "The Sea" bread seems to be smack on. There might have been something else in it also. It was highly unusual for a bread. Very interesting indeed. More was requested. The other two breads were fine. Nothing very interesting, more routine, but good.

 

And here is another perfect example of my above point. My dining companion gave honest feedback. But the feedback overrates. I have eaten great bread. Bondir's breads are great. They are good to very good, max. Please understand that that is NOT a criticism in any way, shape or form. Who doesn't like good to very good bread !

 

 

For example, I love Craigie, I think Craigie's great, I also think that I should put a place like Craigie in context when talking about it to people from NYC to mitigate expectations.

I'm glad you mentioned Craigie first.

 

The moment I opened the door to enter Craigie, I was liking the place. Within two minutes, I thought that this place could be extracted from its Cambridge location and drop-shipped unchanged into multiple different downtown NYC neighborhoods and work well. (Granted, some servers may need to hit a tatoo parlor and stop being so nice and pick up a bit of better-than-thou attitude, but all that should come pretty quickly once they're settled in the Big Apple)

 

However, as much as I wanted to love the place, the actual food on the plate did not thrill. And the food seemed pricey to me. Not enormously so, but mains are effectively $37 if I am recalling correctly and they should surely be less. Yet, what do I know, as the restaurant was full of folks mostly in their late 20s - late 30s. I was wondering how they all afford the place because it was during the week and it's not a special-night-out sort a place. It's just a very good restaurant where jeans seem to be the preferred pants. Nice jeans, though. Would I go back? Absolutely. I want to love the place. I want my meal to have been an outlier foodwise. I'm slightly worried though. I'm worried that they have nailed all other aspects of the restaurant and they need to crank the food level up another half notch or so.

 

So with that as context, here is how my dining companion, with whom I dined at Craigie on Main a month ago, responded when simply asked "Bondir was quite the bargain, wasn't it?". My friend offered up the Craigie comparison unsolicited. Craigie wasn't in the discussion.

 

Actually I felt the same. My sense was that it surpassed Craigie a bit in food quality and service, although I preferred the Craigie ambiance (different vibe for sure). Bondir felt like much more like a chef-driven restaurant; Craigie had more of a “scene” quality, although both were great. But I think that Bondir had a lower price point.

We are both on the same page. I'll note that I really liked our Craigie server. She was well-informed, answered questions very usefully, was happy to do so, described dishes with clarity and pleasure and was there when needed.

 

Off-topic venting: Just to blow off some steam, the service that we had at Craigie and at Bondir was about 500% better than the unhappy, useless wench of a server that I had a couple days ago at Corton in NYC. Just so unacceptable. I was wondering if she just got fired from her day job. It affected the meal significantly. She was pained when asked to repeat what was in a dish. Hey wench, when you speak your words to the wall as opposed to informing the diners, those diners may ask you to repeat yourself so they can hear what you said. And Liebrandt operates on a different multi-ingredient plane (not necessarily an all-positive thing unless you are automatically wowed by the complexity of it all), and having some remote idea of what you are actually eating is kind of useful. It might add to the experience. Look wench, it was clear that we wanted to hear those ingredients after the first dish. If it is really so painful for you to speak to human beings and enunciate words so that the people that you are serving can actually hear what you are saying, just go get another job. (And her command of the English language was NOT an issue whatsoever) And I watched you at our neighboring table. Your fake-forced-smile when those folks were being friendly pained me as much as it pained you. You have the wrong job, my dear. And who the hell hired her and allows her to continue in this role? This restaurant simply fails on many accounts despite a chef-genius working there. I think that Drew is simply in over his head in attempting to run a restaurant at that level. I don't think he understands what it takes. I watched the service carefully the whole evening. It wasn't a happy or joyous or fun evening there.

 

Service at Corton: Chambo dislikes.

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My sister and her husband are heading to Boston shortly. They are adventurous eaters although sis is allergic to shellfish, and interested in wine. Price is not really a consideration but they are mor

The thing is that some modest places -- Schwartz's, Katz's, Lotus of Siam LV -- really ARE all that.

Oh, I don't know about that. DabblerBo went to Katz's the other day wanting a simple

meal of pastrami foam with mustard jus on rye toast points, and got a mountain of

meat on so-so rye bread. The mustard was not Dijon and there were no tablecloths.

The meat was very tasty, but DabblerBo saw through all that. He ate well, but he did

not dine.

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Really liked Mistral for Brunch and Island Creek Oyster Company for the lobster pasta.

 

Seems as though you've been to all the other standout big names.

 

Rino's place is a jaunt, and I don't like Guy Fieri, but the food was superb.

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Chambo Wine Lesson #1.

 

Let's imagine that you have ordered a number of random apps ... I don't know exactly ... but let me make something up ... hmmmm ... how about ...

 

1. a Salad of Spice-Poached Beets with Petit Greens, Gold Beets, Shaved Chioggia Beet, Kañiwa, Almond Milk Ricotta, Almond Vinaigrette

 

AND what else ... hmmm ... maybe something like ...

 

2. a Marinated Local Mushroom Salad with Hen of the Woods and Chicken Mushrooms, Foie Gras, Dahlia Bulb, Asian Pear with Chocolate Mint, Red Wine Mousseline

 

AND what else can I invent for the purposes of this exercise ... hmmm ... oh I know ! ...

 

3. Scituate Scallops with Red Torpedo Onion, Sweet Potatoes, Smoked Apple and Hyssop, Pickled Ramps, Oregano Froth

 

Yeah yeah yeah ... that should work good enough for my "theoretical" wine quiz.

 

Okay, theoretically now, imagine that you ordered those three imaginary dishes and that you had to order just one bottle of white wine to drink with them.

 

Okay, theoretically now, imagine that you were presented with the following white wine list.

 

Now it does indeed matter if you are being presented with this list today, a year from today or 5 years from today because these specific wines will drink differently at those different points in time.

 

Hence, to make this theoretical question concrete, let's just imagine that you were presented with the below wine list ... say ... hmmmm ... let's say you were presented with this wine list ... hmmm when ? ... how about yesterday evening ! At approx 9.48pm EST !

 

Yeah, that's good. That should work well enough.

 

Okay now, how would the sophisticated, experienced, prudent professional proceed in picking his potion ?

 

What would he choose ?

 

I'll let you guys attempt to come up with the undisputably correct answer for a long while cuz Chambo's gotta run now ... but I'll be back with the answer in due course. And I'll grade you all.

 

My word is my bond.

 

IMG_3266.jpg

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Bondir. Dinner.

 

Behold the menu.

 

Soup aside, notice that everything can be selected as either a half plate or a full plate.

 

The menu structure and its ordering flexibility is absolutely great.

 

You effectively create your own custom tasting menu and you get to decide how big a portion of each dish you want by strategic ordering / splitting (ie a full portion split by two ... or a half portion split by two ... the concept scales to bigger parties) Chambo likes.

 

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Tonight's breads were : 9 Grain, The Sea, Corn Flour with Hops and Summer Herbs

 

Recall this prior discussion ...

 

Breads (9 Grain, The Sea, Barley Flour with Fresh Hops)

i'm so curious - how was this bread?

In fact, that's the description of 3 different types of breads:

 

1. 9 Grain

2. The Sea

3. Barley Flour with Fresh Hops

 

The most interesting one of which was "The Sea".

 

Most of you are now probably sick of listening to Chambo, so I'll let my dining companion's words do the talking:

 

The Sea most likely was squid ink bread, that had the black swirls in the dough under the crust. It tasted of squid ink pasta with the bitter aromatic shellfish taste delicious. I dont recall too many specifics about the others, except that they were very dense, moist and chewey, and had a pretty earthy taste. All great, in my opinion.

The description of "The Sea" bread seems to be smack on. 1. There might have been something else in it also. It was highly unusual for a bread. Very interesting indeed. More was requested. The other two breads were fine. Nothing very interesting, more routine, but good.

 

And here is another perfect example of my above point. My dining companion gave honest feedback. But the feedback overrates. I have eaten great bread. Bondir's breads areN'T [eta: n't!] great. They are good to very good, max. Please understand that that is NOT a criticism in any way, shape or form. Who doesn't like good to very good bread !

There is it on top - the bread known as The Sea.

 

1. Chambo was indeed on point when he said that there might be something else in it. In fact, in addition to the squid ink, there is dehydrated shrimp and nori seaweed in the mix.

 

IMG_3267.jpg

 

 

Full Order - Salad of Spice-Poached Beets with Petit Greens, Gold Beets, Shaved Chioggia Beet, Kañiwa, Almond Milk Ricotta, Almond Vinaigrette

 

The dish looks very nice.

 

All the various components worked wonderfully and were very much enjoyed ... except for the beets !

 

They were poached as opposed to roasted and this decision yielded not-sweet beets.

 

An important executive error in Chambo's judgment.

 

Un-sweet beets made this dish much less as opposed to more. The poached beet, although subtly spiced, was slightly bland in this case and the dish therefore lacked a clear sweet component to make it fully sing.

 

The overall ingredient conception of the dish was excellent. I call into question the poach-vs-roast decision. Such a shame cuz this could have been very very good.

 

Further, thirty bucks for beets is simply much too high.

 

IMG_3270.jpg

 

 

Half Order - Marinated Local Mushroom Salad with Hen of the Woods and Chicken Mushrooms, Foie Gras, Dahlia Bulb, Asian Pear with Chocolate Mint, Red Wine Mousseline

 

Tough to see clearly due to the non-flash pic.

 

That's a blob of seared foie gras on top.

 

Once again, Chambo fully approves of the overall conception of the dish, but execution issues take away from delivering full potential pleasure. The dish was over-dressed and hence out of balance - ie too vinegary. Coulda shoulda woulda but wasn't.

 

It's a shame because the chef is oh-so-close to mounting the podium.

 

He's like a gymnastic who opts to do that vault with a very high level of difficulty and after the spins, twists, half-thises and half-thats, he just can't stick it on the landing.

 

Should he lower the level of difficulty by eliminating an ingredient or two, and then fully focus on nailing the equilibrium and balance of these dishes ?

 

It's a highly worthy thought because if he did he would have a highly worthy restaurant that people from afar would be talking about a lot.

 

Instead, he has a very good restaurant that absolutely merits a visit but he doesn't yet have an excellent restaurant.

 

IMG_3272.jpg

 

IMG_3273.jpg

 

 

Full Order - Scituate Scallops with Red Torpedo Onion, Sweet Potatoes, Smoked Apple and Hyssop, Pickled Ramps, Oregano Froth

 

Of the 4 scallops, one was cooked more than is wise.

 

Unfortunately that one wound up on Chambo's plate ... because Chambo was chivalrous enough to take the smaller as opposed to the bigger bivalves.

 

(Off-topic : Chambo hates being chivalrous in such over-seared scenarios but he does it out of habit. Guys, it's an unfair world out there. )

 

Also, parts of the red torpedo onion were blackened towards a bit of bitterness. I think that the chef intended to do this. The sweet scallop works well with the different sweetness of the cooked onion but the sweet scallop does NOT work well with any onion bitterness.

 

Excellent conception again but he's just not nailing it and he's missing the gold.

 

And before you think that Chambo is off-base on any of this, all people in my party (ie me + 1) are in agreement on these critiques. That said, I'm grading hard here. I simply want a fault-free performance and I'm not getting it. It's okay if a dish isn't excellent. It's not okay if a potentially excellent dish shows faults. I'm noticing them and I'm calling them out.

 

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Half Order - Rouen Duck Roasted Breast and Confit Leg with Spaghetti Squash and Roxbury Russet Apple, Romanesco Cauliflower, Mustard Greens, Cornmeal Cake

 

Very good dish.

 

Creative, unexpected prep and presentation.

 

The grilled mustard greens made a strong positive yummy impression. This bitter works.

 

The slender strips of breast meat were moist and tasty - just the way a beautiful breast should be.

 

Everything was very tasty in fact ... but alas ... the confit leg is just a tiny bit too dry for my taste. Chambo's dining companion wasn't as concerned on this point. Maybe Chambo doesn't really love confit legs?

 

Please do understand that I would re-order this dish in a flash.

 

IMG_3280.jpg

 

 

Half Order - Braised Vermont Wagyu Short Rib with Spiced White Carrots, Oyster Mushrooms, Fresh Lima Beans, Rye Berries, Roasted Apple Jus

 

This very good dish slithers by Chambo's sly eye fault-free.

 

That phallic white carrot silently stood sentinel watching Chambo wolf down the Wagyu.

 

Ever see short rib served like that ? It looks more like a mini-prime rib, no ?

 

And are you noticing yet how big these half orders are ?

 

In fact, when we were discussing whether to order the duck or the short rib with our waitress, she said that the half portions of the meats are quite generous and we would probably be very pleasantly surprised if we did half portions of each. So we did. And she was right. Extremely helpful guidance. Chambo likes.

 

It's kind of ridiculous that the above beet plate costs pretty much the same as the half orders of both the duck and short rib. It doesn't make any sense. We decided that we would simply order half portions of everything next time.

 

IMG_3283.jpg

 

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The Pig Picture on the Wall

 

Taken towards the end of the evening. We once again closed the place by a long shot. Those tables on our right had customers earlier but they are still far from maximizing use of their tables.

 

IMG_3287.jpg

 

 

Dessert Menu

 

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Chocolate-Rosemary Panna Cotta with Pickled Cherry Mostarda, Cherry Bark Gel, Cocoa Nibs, Pistachio Puree

 

Good.

 

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On this second visit, I was hoping that I was returning to a fault-free and now excellent restaurant.

 

Instead I am left to dream that that will be my destiny on my next visit.

 

They are within reach of being a real three star resto, but they are not grasping nor receiving that third star from the jaws of Chambo.

 

I would love to rectify this on my next visit. The balance beam is in their court.

 

Notwithstanding Chambo's hyper-criticalness, Bondir remains one of the most interesting restaurants in Boston today.

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