Monday, July 19, 2010

(Re)-Visit: Stoddard’s Fine Food and Ale in Boston

By: Finance Foodie

As you may recall, the first time I visited Stoddard’s Fine Food and Ale, I left with mixed feelings. The cocktails failed to impress (not only me, but also the far more discerning cocktail-specialist writers in my party) and food was not incredibly memorable. However, Stoddard’s is a fairly small establishment and we were a rather large and rowdy group, so I thought it was unfair to judge the restaurant from one less-than-standard dining experience. Therefore, I decided to give Stoddard’s a second chance – afterall, as the old saying goes - fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. 

I headed to Stoddard’s after work one evening and arrived to a bustling scene – the house was packed for a random Thursday night (which I took to be a good sign). I started out with a Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer, lime) served in a traditional copper mug. I was pleased with this nice and refreshing concoction – the light crisp drink was quite a refreshing respite from the hot humid summer day. A good start to the night.

On the food side, I started off deviled eggs, which were good but standard. Not much to say about this dish.
HIGHLIGHT:After the deviled eggs came a tasting portion of the olive oil poached salmon with grilled romaine salad, served with cherry tomatoes, provolone cheese, and with a dash of “green goddess dressing” on the side. There aren’t many salads I like in the world, but this one was truly delicious – and the highlight of the night! The salmon was tender and the olive oil was a nice complement to the buttery texture of the fish. The (thankfully not raw) romaine was full of smoky flavor (no need for the mystery sauce green goddess dressing) and the provolone gave the leaves a nice sharp bite.
LOWLIGHT: The high from the salmon salad all came crashing down when the beef tartare was brought out. The toasted Wonder bread-like triangles that accompanied the tartare were far too airy to handle dense meatiness of the beef – the dish would have been eons better if paired with a denser carb (i.e. bagel crisp or Melba toast). I also disliked the intense amount of capers embedded in the tartare, which left a mustard-like aftertaste
After the Lindsay Lohan-esq crash, I was hoping the entrees would be like rehab to the erratic appetizers. Unfortunately, the entrees were just as unpredictable as my favorite tragic actress. First up was the crispy skin striped bass, served with golden raisins, pinenuts, and cauliflower in a brown butter sauce. This was an excellent dish as the fish was tender, flaky, and seared perfectly (I felt like I was transported to Le Bernardin. Well almost.) The brown butter sauce was also lovely and served to enhance (but not overpower) the rest of the components of the dish.
This exquisite fish was then followed up by a rather awkward Mr. Rabbit (or rather, a mashed up version of him). I must say I should have read the menu more carefully, as I didn’t realized that the boneless rabbit would be stuffed with a rabbit mousee and then wrapped with pancetta (incestuous sounding, I know). The rooty nettles and sweet stewed prunes somewhat saved the dish – but consumer beware – this dish is definitely an acquired taste.
After the wild ride my taste buds went though, I was hoping for something a bit more Taylor Swift – nice, sweet, and consistent - for dessert. Luckily, both the rhubarb panna cotta and flourless chocolate cake delivered. Not particularly exciting, but not bad at all.
I rounded off the night with another drink – a delicious and fruity Singapore Sling (Gin, Cherry Liqueur, Cointreau, Bénédictine, Grenadine, Pineapple juice, Fresh lemon juice, Angostura bitters) before I headed back out into the steamy summer night.
All and all, I would the drinks at Stoddard’s are exceptional and much improved from my initial visit but the food is inconsistent, marred by stock market like highs and lows. The prices are fairly reasonable and the location is convenient enough to make it a destination for the downtown Boston work crowd - I would go back for a drink or two, but probably quietly peace out to nearby Chinatown for dinner.

Stoddard's Fine Food and Ale
48 Temple Place
Boston, MA 02110
(617) 426-0048


ABostonFan said...

I agree - skip the dinner and go for the drinks. Looks like you are a fan of cocktails, I would try the French 75 next time

Unknown said...

I love the salmon salad too! I would have to disagree with your thoughts on the rabbit, I think it is one of the best prepared and innovative dishes on the menu.


Finance Foodie said...

@ABostonFan will do! I hope you have received the Walmart gift card you won

@theant1234 Everyone is def entitled to their own opinions but IMHO I think the rabbit is an acquired taste and may not appeal to all taste palates.

Anonymous said...

You are a MORON...What is your back ground? First off that is how a Tartare is served...Stop blogging about food you don't have a clue what your talking about. People like you are killing the industry dummy

Finance Foodie said...

@Anon Thanks for your feedback - I am well aware not everyone shares the same taste palate, which is why food is something that is very subjective, much like art. I hope you can appreciate my honest opinion just like I appreciate all comments, positive or negative.

PS. I've had many tartares in my life and all of them had different taste notes and were platted in different manners - some good, some not as good.

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