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Restaurant Betrayal - Elizabeth Unexplained
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greyautumnrain
greyautumnrain
Restaurant Betrayal
Yesterday psychohist and I discorvered a horrible restaurant betrayal: our very favorit restaurant, The Julien, had closed.

There were a number of fabulous things about he Julien. We could go in black tie and not feel overdressed, the waiters all knew us and acted as though they really liked us, the food was exquisite, and the atmosphere was quite and formal. It was also pretty easy to get to, and we had a long history with the place.

One of the best things about the Julien was that they had a tasting menu. For more money you could get it paired with wines, which I did the last time we went. This was a seven course meal, with a small glass of wine with every course. Everything we ate that night was chosen for us but the staff. While this might not sound like an appealing option to people used to picking for themselves, at the very best restaurants it is the way to go. It is physically impossible for you not to like what they are serving you. The Julien also had these extra little touches... tiny two bite appetizers chosen by the chef that everyone got that were always amazing. I could go on and on.

So, yesterday we had to come up with a replacement choice on short notice. The two contenders we had were the Cafe Fleuri, which is the same chef as the Julien, but much less formal, or the Oak Room, which was billed as formal dining. We went with the Oak Room for yesterday and decided we'd go to the Cafe Fleuri soon so as to compare these two options.

The Oak Room was nice, but it was not the Julien. The food was excellent, though it wasn't french cuisine. We had shrimp cocktail and chateaubriand, which were both very good. I missed all the little touches that you'd get at the Julien. I guess I just prefer having numerous tiny courses with all their different complex tastes. The waiters were good too, but they weren't quite as good at the Julien and they didn't seem to warm to us immediately the way the guys at the Julien had the first time we went there. I was also very unimpressed with the wine at the Oak Room, at least the glass I had. I don't know wine names, but I know I good wine when I taste it, and the merlot I had last night had flaws. I suppose I might have enjoyed the experience more if I weren't mourning the loss of the Julien, but its clear I've come to have exceedingly high expectiations when it comes to fine dining, and I'm not sure there's another place in Boston which can fill those expectations.

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Comments
enugent From: enugent Date: September 19th, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Try Mistral, if you haven't been there. It's at least as pricey as Julien's was, but I think you'd like it. They definitely have the complex flavors.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: September 19th, 2006 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
L'Espalier.
psychohist From: psychohist Date: September 19th, 2006 09:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Any chance for more descriptive information? I've found mixed reviews of Mistral and L'Espalier on the internet, but when all three of the things listed as negatives in a review are things I view as plusses (quiet, older crowd, smaller portions, in the case of one L'Espalier review), I wonder whether they are saying more about the reviewer than the restaurant. More information would be appreciated - along with a comparison with the Julien for those who have been there.

Also, has anyone been to Radius or Aujourd'hui?

Obviously I should have done this a week ago....
enugent From: enugent Date: September 19th, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have only been to Mistral once, for my second anniversary (six years ago), so it is certainly possible that things have changed. But we found that the food was really good (at least as good as Julien), and the portion sizes were such that you could actually eat an appetizer, a main course, and dessert without feeling like a complete glutton. Our waitress was unobtrusive, but extremely helpful, especially in selecting wines. Seating was fairly secluded, so we weren't really aware of other diners in the restaurant. I don't remember what we wore, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't black tie. I didn't get the impression that anyone on the waitstaff would be surprised by black tie, though.
psychohist From: psychohist Date: September 20th, 2006 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, that information is helpful.

I do want to clarify that the Oak Room is a great restaurant. The chateaubriand was the best serving of beef I've had, and I'm pretty picky about beef. We took some leftovers home, and the beef was still good, and the asparagus still fragrant and tender but not soggy, after a day in the refrigerator. The shrimp cocktail were also the best shrimp I've ever had, by far. Twenty years ago, I would probably have preferred it to the Julien, but since then, I've gotten used to French fine dining.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: September 21st, 2006 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Honestly, if you're trying to decide between Mistral and L'Espalier, the only thing to do is to try both yourselves. You can rely on someone else's opinions if you're waffling between Caffe Bella and The Cheesecake Factory, but you're right about remarks that say more about the reviewer than about the restaurant.

So, you should try Mistral, L'Espalier, Radius, Aujourd'hui, Lumiere, Clio, Pigalle, and Silks, once each, and it'll be great, because it means you get to go out a lot.
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