Sunday, August 22, 2010

Boston Summer Restaurant Week: 29 Newbury

By: Finance Foodie

Restaurant Week in Boston is baaaccck! For the next week (from August 22-27th), participating restaurants are offering 2-course lunches for $15.10, 3-course lunches for $20.10 and 3-course dinners for $33.10. Truth be told, I’ve always had mixed feeling about Restaurant Week. Yes, it’s a great way for consumers to try a new place for a fraction of the cost, and the resulting surge in traffic is a much welcome respite to the recession stricken restaurant industry. But are these deals possible because the quality in the food and innovation of menu items are sacrificed?
I decided to test drive the restaurant week menu at 29 Newbury this past Saturday night. Before I even looked at the menu, I noticed the décor of the place was completely mismatched - art deco portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland were on hand with a statue of a Mongolian horse. I was perplexed, and made even more so when the new dance-pop Adam Lambert song came on over the speakers.

Unfortunately, this lack of a cohesive concept translated to the menu, as the non-restaurant week menu featured sushi next to mushroom ravioli and clam chowder. Some may see the variety in cuisine as a positive, but I was worried – was the eclectic menu the result of a chef who was trying to cover up a lack of culinary ability?

Turning back to the restaurant week menu, I ordered the salmon and tuna tartare on crispy bruschetta for my first course. This wasn’t too bad, as the denseness of the bruschetta bread held up well against the richness of the tartare. Although I would have liked more tuna and salmon and less avocado and unidentified “special sauce”.

The real tragedy of the night, however, was the main course. The lobster stir fry was well presented but tasted like a Stouffer’s frozen meal. The lobster chunks were almost non-existent (a few small slivers) and the dish was completely overrun by the clumsy chunks of bell peppers and bland bean sprouts. The sauce was way too spicy for my tastes – which was unfortunate since this was the only component of the dish that had any real flavor. I should have been angry that the portion was so small, but instead, I was relieved.

The last course was a tiramisu for dessert. Not much to say except that it was very standard and not very impressive. Certainty not worth indulging for in the midst of my fashion week diet.
I also feel it’s necessary to mention that the service (much like the décor and the menu) was inconsistent - slow like molasses when it came to serving each course but quick like a lighting bolt when it came to bringing over the bill and ushering us out. The only thing that saved this meal was the wonderful company I had dinner with. My first restaurant week experience was a fail, but one bad apple does not speak for the whole bushel -therefore, I will continue to try more places and report back (hopefully with better results)!

29 Newbury
29 Newbury St
Boston, MA 02116
29 Newbury on Urbanspoon


theant1234 said...

yikes, hope your other RW experiences aren't as bad. I've done RW before in NYC - alot of hit or miss places too, good luck!

ABostonFan said...

You should try L'Espalier's restaurant week menu - its to die for!

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

I've had a very similar experience at 29 Newbury with their non-Restaurant Week menu. Not a fan.

Beth said...

Ditto on the experience and ditto on the great company! I think the patio must be the driving force behind 29 Newbury.

Carrisa said...

Yes I agree with theant1234 - come to NYC for RW! The best places I've been to are Delmonico's (financial district) and Carlyle Restaurant (Upper East) in the hotel.

Finance Foodie said...

@Carrisa - been to Carlyle, LOVED it - friends and I spent almost 4 hrs there just chatting

@Beth - thanks for planning though - it was a good LEARNING experience lol

@Fun and Fearless - yes, regular menu is quite unfocused

@ABostonFan - heard its all booked already, but thanks for the suggestions

@theant1234 - where have u gone in NYC? any recs?

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