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Based purely on their chocolate desserts...

I've had the chocolate Eiffel Tower at Petit Robert, and it was terribly disappointing. Everything was sort of dry and plastic tasting. They also have a chocolate mousse, though, which seems sort of hard to mess up.

Oleana 9/28 (long)

Ate on the patio, with a large enough (and willing enough) group to cover a good portion of the menu.

Small plates: We all shared the buttered hummus wrapped in basturma (procuitto-ish? I'd never had it before) and the spicy carrot puree. Although the hummus is definitely worth it despite the "I have this all the time factor", I preferred the carrot puree - it wasn't particularly hot-spicy, just well seasoned with ginger and cumin. The bread that came with included a really delicious foccacia and garden variety (but excellent) white bread. I got the deviled eggs with tuna, which were more like eggs stuffed with tuna salad. Good, if a little rubbery.

Appetizers: The octopus salad (with cauliflower and white beans) was outstanding - it might just be that I'm used to having it as sashimi, but when it was grilled past the point of rubberyness, it was an entirely different flavor - smoky and with a greater depth of fish flavor. The spinach falafel was probably my favorite dish of the night. The texture was an absolutely perfect combination of crisp exterior and moist interior, with delicious sauces (red sauce - beets? did I mention we were sitting on the patio? it was a little dark - tahini, and yogurt), and served with cress on a mini-lavash.

Mains: We got the ricotta and bread dumplings with red wine, porcini, and kale, the swordfish scaloppini with eggplant-macaroni timbale, the scallops with celery root semolina, and the River Rock beef shish kebob with zucchini pancakes. The scallops and swordfish were good but not incredibly memorable. The ricotta and bread dumplings were perfect foils for the most amazing, farmer's-market fresh tomato sauce. The beef and zucchini pancakes were mind-blowing. The beef was tender and richly spiced, and the zucchini pancakes were rich and creamy - I'm pretty sure cheese was involved, but I'm not sure how.

Dessert: We managed to cover nearly everything here. We had the pomegranite granite (I'm biased towards creamy in my frozen desserts, but this packed a powerful punch) with pomegranite sauce on palace bread (spongy, honey-soaked bread). Two had the warm pumpkin turnover (again, I'm biased against pastry, but this was flaky and flavorful) with brown butter ice cream resting on top of walnuts. To my left was a warm chocolate panino (intensely dark chocolate between some sort of unmemorable white bread) with almond cremolata - creamier than I expected, and actually even better than the panino. I had the warm chocolate truffle with honey poached seckel pear and honey pot de creme. The truffle was an actual round truffle, with a crispy shell and an inside along the lines of a flourless truffle cake. The honey in the other two components wasn't at all overpowering, and the dark chocolate helped to cut their mild sweetness.

The meal took a while, (bordering on too long between courses), and our server was just a little off, but the patio absolutely as beautiful as I'd heard it was, and it was overall a lovely experience!

Neptune last night

Finally got a chance to try Neptune Oyster last night - and wow, did it ever live up to its Chowhound rep. We got the fried clams (how have I grown up and lived in New England without ever having had these? I've got a lot of catching up to do) and the lump crab scampi appetizers. The clams were absolutely outstanding, the highlight of the meal - I tend to like things run through a salt mine a few times, but even so, I don't think these were overwhelmingly salty. And the crispness of the breading - wow. Amazing. The lump crab scampi (lump crab on a folded "omelet crepe" with procuitto and sauteed slivers of green garlic) was delicious as well, but to be honest, I was more focused on picking the scraps of my DC's clam plate.

Entrees were the Roast Monkfish with clams, broccoli, polenta, green olives, and black beans and the Marlin Duet with carrot mascarpone, sweet pea crudo, chilies and pecorino. I think the clams were actually the highlight of the monkfish, but the components of the dish all worked perfectly, with the thin puddle of polenta as a base.

Altogether delicious delicious. Thanks hounds!

Petit Robert, Kenmore

After culling the encyclopedic knowledge of everyone here for months, I thought I'd finally chip in a review. Went to the Kenmore Petit Robert last night for a post-Sox start dinner, no wait at all for 3 at 8pm. We got two of the Salad Nicoise and a Beef Bourginoin. The salad was wonderful, a slightly heartier mix of greens with a perfectly cooked egg, new potato, and haricot vert with a decent-sized hunk of just barely seared and lightly seasoned tuna. I've apparently only ever had downmarket versions, since the anchovies were new to me - but what salty slabs of joy! The dressing was a creamy thick mustardy deal that went wonderfully with the spicier lettuces. The bite of beef I had was delicious, but at that point I was more focused on slamming in as much toasty demi baguette and butter as possible.

Since I'd been awaiting the dessert menu with breathless anticipation, I was disappointed that I seemed to get the dud of the three choices. The best part of the chocolate gateau was the two bite Eiffel Tower that came with it. The cake itself was dry, with a strong and slightly unpleasant alcoholic taste to it. DCs desserts were MUCH tastier - the Ile Flotant, which I'd never had, a flan-shaped meringue in a martini glass of creme anglaise and caramel mousse (appropriate, as I could have sipped the creme anglaise straight), and peach-stuffed crepes with poached peaches and a peach-almond sauce over the top.

Our server was wonderful (my only complaint is that he steered me away from the chocolate mousse and towards that cake), attentive and perfectly willing to indulge my Francophone friends while I attended to the baguette. I'll definitely be back!

Something like Oleana...

Thank you all so much for your suggestions - they are along the lines of what we're looking for (we've already been to Helmand), but it turns out the birthday girl is going to be in New Hampshire helping my brother move, so we're going to have to move the celebration out Metrowestish. I'll post on where we finally go!

Something like Oleana...

Thanks so much for the suggestions! Mom and I have already done Baraka Cafe (which was delicious!) so I was looking for something new. She's definitely more substance than style, but I thought it might be nice to take her somewhere with a little bit of a "birthday feel". I was also considering Ten Tables (might be difficult to fit everyone), Ariadne, and Rendezvous.

Something like Oleana...

Ha ha - no, actually, sorry - what I should have said is that Oleana is, in THEORY, her ideal type of food. Whether the food lives up to the menu descriptions, I don't know, but I'd be happy to find something even better tasting than Oleana sounds!

Something like Oleana...

But that 6 people might have a shot of getting a table at on Memorial Day weekend (Saturday)? It's my mom's birthday, and Oleana is her ideal (Middle Eastern, fresh, complex spicing). Any ideas for a substitute? She's not big on butter-laden or meat-heavy - ahem, Grotto - and we'd prefer not to surpass the $30 entree mark. Thanks!

Reasonably priced sushi...

Keep in mind this is coming from a reasonably provincial sushi palate, but I think what I ate at Super Fusion last night (Washington Square off the C line) is some of the best sushi I've ever had. I think it got panned by some hounds for inelegant cuts of fish, but the sashimi was huge and incredibly fresh, and the menu had a lot of offerings I haven't seen elsewhere in terms of appetizers. We got a Salmon Wrap (a timbale of avocado, shiitake, and crab stick topped with two pieces of torched salmon) and fresh rolls that had mixed greens, papaya, something tempura, and seaweed salad. Prices were definitely lower than Fugakyu or Oishii (I believe it was $25 for the sashimi and $5-$10 for pretty substantial appetizers).

Chai masala

Ha ha ha...an excellent suggestion, a little burnt caramel might be just the thing to get rid of the lingering taste of cardamom.

Chai masala

Does anyone know a place in the Boston area (T or bus accessible) where I might be able to pick up some chai masala? Not tea, just the spices (makes my oatmeal soooo much better in the morning). I attempted to make my own, but I must have gotten the proportions wrong cause my tongue went carda-numb.

Eats and Treats Creperie, Allston (Brighton Ave)

CafeNation in Brighton Center has buckwheat for their savory crepes! Never had them, but it's out there...

Romance in a brown bag

Thank you guys so much! Those sound like great ideas. I've seen her take down a wedge of brie the size of my foot in a night, so I think I'm going to try a baguette/brie/avocado/something with a bit of crunch sandwich, some sort of meat product on the side (salami! brilliant!), and a nutella themed dessert? Any ideas for an easy, one-serving nutella conduit? I'm afraid it'd be difficult to make just one crepe...

Feb 13, 2007
BrunchOrBust in Home Cooking

Romance in a brown bag

Truly brown bag! I'm leaning towards a cheese-laden sandwich of sorts...

Feb 13, 2007
BrunchOrBust in Home Cooking

Romance in a brown bag

My inexplicably single roommate is not looking forward to the onslaught of hearts and flowers tomorrow. I'd like to make her a Valentine's brown-bag lunch - any creative ideas out there? She's a meat and potatoes, crusty baguette and brie kinda girl. And it goes without saying, chocolate should be involved. TIA!

Feb 13, 2007
BrunchOrBust in Home Cooking

Breakfast -- Always, Sometimes, or Never?

I'm in the breakfast as a reason to live camp. Every weekday morning for the past 4 months or so it's been oat bran doctored up with canned pumpkin, cream cheese, splenda, and pumpkin pie spice. If I weren't worried about neglecting my basic nutritional needs, I'd probably have it for lunch and dinner too.

Jan 18, 2007
BrunchOrBust in Not About Food

Favorite After-Party Snack?

Ditto the carb heavy...the first time I got well and truly wasted, I sat down on the floor of my friend's living room and ate an entire bag of hamburger buns.

Jan 16, 2007
BrunchOrBust in General Topics

What's the rule in your house regarding restaurant leftovers?

HA HA HA! Yes. I nearly became an only child several times due to my brother's "(someone else's) dinner for breakfast" style of eating.

Jan 11, 2007
BrunchOrBust in Not About Food

Substitue for Hershey's syrup

I think I just fainted.

Jan 05, 2007
BrunchOrBust in General Topics

Barley Risotto

I made it Wednesday! The recipe was from Fresh Food Fast, and called for sauteeing onions, garlic, and fresh ginger, then adding in the barley to toast, then water and golden beets (we substituted butternut squash). At then end you stir in chard and goat cheese. It was divine, and I probably could've eaten my weight in it.

Jan 05, 2007
BrunchOrBust in Home Cooking

What does "DH" mean?

YES...so much better

Jan 04, 2007
BrunchOrBust in Site Talk

A good "foodie" friend is one who......

Will share

Dec 13, 2006
BrunchOrBust in Not About Food

Night Out restaurant that won't leave me sobbing into my overpriced steak

Thank you all so much for the great suggestions! After extensive board research and waffling, I've decided to go for more of a fun date night out than a fancy occasion. Franklin it is!

Night Out restaurant that won't leave me sobbing into my overpriced steak

My boyfriend's birthday is this week, and we had originally planned on going with a splurge at Ruth's Chris. It doesn't seem to be worth the pricetag, however, so now I'm looking for backup. What do you think for downtown/south end, around $150 for two, and classy enough to be a definite Special Occasion? For instance, although I'd love to try Troquet I think it'd be too expensive, and Franklin Cafe might not be fancypants enough. I'm thinking Grotto, but any other suggestions? Thank you!

Crepes?

I've seen (but never tasted) buckwheat crepes at Cafenation in Brighton Center...
http://www.cafenation.com/cafe/

Solstice celebration centerpiece dish

Every year my family and our friends get together for a gigantic orgy of food preparation and bonfire building to celebrate winter solstice. It's extremely casual, potluck-style, but we always have one main centerpiece dish. The past few years we've had lamb curry, lobster chowder, and Tunisian rubbed roast turkey, but this year we seem to be a little stuck for inspiration...does anyone have any intensely flavorful, meat-based wows up their sleeves? Thanks hounds!

Dec 01, 2006
BrunchOrBust in Home Cooking

How do you like your oatmeal?

I discovered this week that if you add pumpkin, a couple tablespoons of light cream cheese, splenda, and appropriate spices you have yourself a fantastic excuse to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Oct 26, 2006
BrunchOrBust in Home Cooking

How do you like your oatmeal?

I discovered this week that if you add pumpkin, a couple tablespoons of light cream cheese, splenda, and appropriate spices you have yourself a fantastic excuse to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Oct 26, 2006
BrunchOrBust in Home Cooking

What to eat with cottage cheese?

Cottage cheese with canned peaches, Splenda, and FiberOne. I know. It sounds like something you'd spoonfeed Great-Aunt Edna. But if you mix it up and let it sit, it gets to be all puddingy...mmm.

Oct 25, 2006
BrunchOrBust in General Topics

BU Area Recs

Brown Sugar is pretty decent Thai with a novel-length menu and drink options, and it's probably the closest to Agganis. If you go a little further towards Brighton, there's Sunset, bar foodish (and lots of it, another novel-length menu) with delish chicken chili and about a million kinds of beer, or Rangoli for excellent Indian.