Monday, March 17, 2008

Excelsior

Excelsior
Back Bay, Boston
Restaurant Week 2008

Excelsior is more than just a restaurant, it's also a fine dining experience with a cocktail lounge on the bottom floor, a huge glass wine tower for three stories, and one of the best wine collections in the City. The restaurant overlooks the Boston Commons on Boylston St, not disappointing with its romantic views and fine dining experience. The interior is contemporary wine-cellar-esque, with modern abstract artwork, dark walls and few spotlights that shine on the white tableclothes. There is booth banquette seating along the outer edges. The service is prompt, punctual, and generally friendly. I find that the cocktail lounge downstairs is the best service. The bartender had a friendly personality, and he wasn't too hard on the eyes either.

The bar lounge is definitely chic, modern contemporary with artistically blown-glass in the upper shelves and around the interior borders. There is a tone of warm colors, through the decorative glass, with warm red lights from above, and behind the bar counter. The seating is of chocolate leather with red line trim. Slick seating. The wall paneling is dark wood medley with lacquered wood.

The overall presentation here is lovely, the food is good, and sometimes better than good depending on the dish. Appetizers are a strong point of theirs, and fish. Not to mention the wines.
The bartender recommended I have the...

Falanghina, Feudi di San Greggorio, Sannio 2006
He let me have a taste of it, and it tasted much like a light Sauvignon Blanc, but a bit fuller. The flavors were of apple, and little tart, but still calm. It was nice, but too pale in flavor for me. So I went with a chardonnay. This was actually a nice wine though, I should have gone for it, as it left a lovely, aromatic aftertaste.

Chardonnay, Georges Faiveley, Bourgogne 2006
This was a nice, easy and more-light chardonnay. It actually went very well with my fish, and had some nuttiness too it and some pear hints. Interesting. It was complex, yet light. I liked it. But once again, I thought the
Falanghina had the best aftertaste. I'll go for the Falanghina next time.
Excelsior Restaurant, Back Bay, Bar, Walnut Bread, Appetizer, Bread, Boston, Boston Restaurant, Dinner, Divinebella, Excelsior, Expensive, Restaurant Week 2008, WineWalnut Bread
The best of them all. This is moist, and thick, like cake bread, this is infused with dark molasses, a walnut bread with some brown sugar cinnamon chunks, like those melty clumps of sugar that you get in rich coffee cake sometimes. I loved this! Lots of walnut halves inside. You just keep reaching for more! This is more of a dessert bread or breakfast bread, but I'm glad I got some of it before dinner. I was hungry!


Excelsior, Back Bay, Bar, Olive Bread, French Bread, Boston, Boston Restaurant, Dinner, Divinebella, Excelsior, Expensive, Restaurant Week 2008, WineOlive Bread
Lovely; soft, fresh, some wheat grain, this has a modest olive flavor, no olive chunks inside at all, but you can lightly taste the olive. The slice is small in length, but thick and fluffy, soft. The bread is fresh and served warm. This was my favorite savory bread. But boy, is that walnut bread addicting!

French Bread
Good. This is still fresh and soft, for two whole minutes, and slices are small and thick also, but it pales in comparison to the olive and walnut bread flavors. It's still really good though, and warm and soft. Nice bread basket.

Excelsior, Back Bay, Bar, Boston, Boston Restaurant, Dinner, Divinebella, Excelsior, Expensive, Restaurant Week 2008, Wine, Figs, Venison Carpaccio, SaladVenison Carpaccio with Field Greens,
Manchego Figs and Xeres Vinaigrette

The figs were my favorite part, and the venison was an interesting mix on carpaccio. It was good, lean, and tasted a bit "gamey", but was Italianized with a bit of pepper and olive oil. This Xeres vinaigrette on the greens mixture didn't taste like much at all; just like olive oil and some pepper also. The manchego figs were amazing, poached, and pure fig flavor. I just love figs, so you put them on any plate and I'm satisfied for the evening. This is a petite plate, but a perfect appetizer. The presentation was beautiful and clean. This could have used twice the carpaccio though to make it more balanced, and satisfying. There was hardly any, just one little strip. It was amazingly tender though, very rare as well.


Excelsior, Back Bay, Bar, Boston, Boston Restaurant, Dinner, Divinebella, Excelsior, Expensive, Restaurant Week 2008, Wine, Bass, EntreeDelmarva’ Striped Bass, Kalamata Olive Salsa, Fresh Steamed Giant Asparagus, Red Pepper Emulsion

Really quite good! Fresh asparagus. Sauce was like tomato basil soup, like a Mexican enchilada sauce. Sea bass was voluminous, voluptuous, fleshy and thick, but so tender! It was covered lightly in butter for marinade I believe.This was a good sized fillet of bass; this is more portion than I expected. It was topped with finely diced kalamata olive in a salsa medley, but it pretty much just tasted like olive. There were also haricot verts on the dish, which were simple but fresh. I substituted the polenta cake for the asparagus, which were giant! Overall, the bass was delicious and satisfying -- the best part of the meal aside from the wine and figs (in the salad)

Chocolate Truffle Cake
Hazelnut Gelato, Sweet Cream, Praline
This was good, not impressive though. The truffle cake was more like a brownie, but a bit drier, a little gooiness inside. It was topped with wonderful, creamy hazelnut gelato scoop--addicting-- which I adored, and atop the cake was sprinkled, crystallized raw sugar and ground praline - lovely! Bold hazelnut flavor in the gelato, which I love. The gelato was the best part of this dessert. Stripe of sweet creme fraiche across the plate, which was not that sweet at all; excellent cream compliment, like whipped cream, but underneath this luke-warm brownie truffle cake. This is rich chocolate. Looks like a petite bundt cake to be honest.

Burnt Orange Creme Caramel
Port Poached Figs, Vanilla Cookie, Candied Kumquats
This was pretty much a flan, flavored with orange, with a foundation of a vanilla cookie (like shortbread). The entire dessert was a smaller, lighter option, topped with a raspberry. It wasn't bad, the orange just stood out to me too much I think. The candied kumquats looked like round mango pieces that were poached and juicy looking, and of course this came with figs! I only tried the creme caramel and the cookie, which were both good. You can't really compare the truffle cake against this though. This is lighter (see in background of truffle cake photo) than the cake, but more custardy, obviously. I'm glad I ordered my truffle cake over this though. I was craving chocolate and that gooieness in the center.

Positive experience, would go back. Next time, I'll sit by the window overlooking the park rather than at a booth by the wall. The window seats give you the best view, and are more romantic, I think.



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