Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Factory of Fabulousness at The Woodward in the Ames Hotel Boston

By: Jessica Cickay

It’s kind of an understatement to say that the Woodward at the Ames Hotel near Government Center is, as the kids say, BEYOND. The Woodward is RIDIC. The Woodward is OMFG AMAZEBALLS. The Woodward is…you get the point. From the second their Skip N Go Naked cocktail (Plymouth gin, Woodward ale & lemon juice) was placed in my hands, to the final lick of my peppered chocolate ganache and salted caramel tart covered spoon, I was more than impressed with The Woodward. Packed to the gills on a random Tuesday night, it’s obvious that Bostonians are flocking to The Woodward’s modern-yet-steeped-in-history décor and contemporary-yet-comfortingly traditional food the kitchen consistently churns out. Say hello to The Woodward, Boston, because this factory of fabulous is certainly here to stay.
Tables decorated with boards of charcuterie, local cheeses and assorted housemade pickles, coupled with bowls of pickled mushrooms, cauliflower, golden beets and grapes (?!), were there to welcome us to The Woodward. Tangy, sweet and light, the aromatic pickled grapes were the star here for me, a unique way to take a simple fruit to an unheard of next level.
Short rib tortellini
Our host for the evening was The Woodward’s food and beverage director, Uzay, who basically was like the fun Uncle I never had, while our waitress was cute, attentive and knowledgeable about all things Woodward. Both of them said that the short rib tortellini with Madeira and truffle butter that we were about to eat were riot-worthy, as in “If we take this off of the menu, the people will riot.” Tender, freshly made pasta dough encased a subtly gamey meat that was revved up by the sweet Madeira sauce and earthy truffle butter. Melt-in-your-mouth good is about all I can say for these little pockets of short rib heaven.
Duck confit with goat cheese flatbread
We were lucky to sample all three of The Woodward’s flatbreads, but the roasted mushroom, truffle oil and spicy cress offering screamed my name the loudest. Thick, pillowy wild mushrooms sat atop a perfectly charred dough covered with a variety of cheeses (I’m thinking taleggio?), peppery greens and a drizzle of the earthy oil. Duck confit with goat cheese and dried cranberries was another flatbread that got Woodward’d, or taken to the level that dreams are made of.
Parsnip bisque
Soups and salads came next, and my swig of parsnip bisque with seared scallop, cranberry and juniper had me debating whether or not to ask if I could ‘supersize’ it. Velvety smooth soup filled my mouth with the flavors of fall, from the smart addition of the zingy cranberry (a nod to my Thanksgiving taste buds) to the unexpected fragrance of the juniper (an ode to my Christmas cravings). An expertly seared sea scallop treaded within the bisque, adding its sweet ocean flavor to the otherwise earth-laden dish.
Trout salad
A standout on the salad side was the smoked trout with frisee, watercress, pickled red onion and whole grain mustard vinaigrette. The flavor combinations just plain worked here, as The Woodward covered all of the bases with this one. One bite was smoky and aromatic from the fish and crispy greens, while the next was punchy and full of tang from the pink onions and dressing.
Brick chicken entree
For my entrée, I enjoyed the brick chicken with quinoa, potato, confit tomatoes and parsley. A tender breast of chicken sat on a pedestal of golden, toasted quinoa that added a nice nutty pop to every bite. Soft potatoes and heirloom grape tomatoes swam in the chicken’s broth, making the whole meal a moist and mouthwatering masterpiece. I also tried a bite of The Woodward’s sweet potato and squash ravioli with sautéed greens and brown butter, another stellar dish that sang the comforting flavors of fall. The squash and potato filling was impressively silken, leaving your mouth almost moisturized from its gentle autumnal softness.
Apple Crumble
My savory stomach was filled to the brim, but my dessert belly was running on empty, but thankfully Uzay brought us all of The Woodward’s desserts to try. I swear I pull a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-type deal when it comes time to transition to desserts, because there was no way I was going to let some fullness stop me from the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with cinnamon whipped cream, caramel apple tart with streusel crumb and vanilla ice cream, Greek yogurt panna cotta with lemon curd and concord grape sauce, and brownie sundae with peanut butter ice cream and chocolate sauce. Can I get a “YUM!” from the people, please?! The panna cotta catered to my fruity cravings (I must say the concord grape sauce was especially amazing and tasted like a glass of Welch’s grape juice fit for a queen), but when those maxed out, I had the chocolatey richness of the brownie sundae to satisfy my needs. However, the peppered chocolate ganache tart with salted caramel was a clear winner for me. The play on “salt and pepper” was so creative and executed to the nines, as this dense and bold tart not only stuck to my ribs that night, but also will stick in my mind for many nights to come…swoon. If you find this dessert to be so tempting that you want to make your own, check out that can teach you different Apple Crumble recipes you can do at home.
Peppered chocolate ganache tart
So, hello Woodward, and welcome to downtown Boston. I’d be happy to meet up with you almost any night of the week and discuss your elevated New England comfort foods and award-winning cocktails – and by discuss, I clearly mean devour and guzzle. I’ll see your appetizers any day and raise you a soup, a salad, an entrée and all of your desserts – oh yea, and let’s throw in that mushroom flatbread too…why not? Basically, we’ll be seeing a lot of each other this winter, so again, hello Woodward.

Woodward at the Ames Hotel
1 Court Street
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 979-8200
Woodward at the Ames on Urbanspoon

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