Monday, August 11, 2008
My first foray into Restaurant Week took me to the spacious outdoor patio of 33 Restaurant & Lounge, an almost hidden spot near the back of the Back Bay station. With light jazz playing in the background, Ben and I enjoyed a relaxing lunch under an umbrella. The special Restaurant Week lunch menu included two appetizer choices, two entree choices, and two dessert choices. Ben and I split the menu in half in order to taste everything.
Ben started out with Beet Tartar, which came as a bit of a surprise since we both misread the menu and were expecting BeeF Tartar. After some confusion about the purple hue and lack of meat, we figured out our mistake. It ended up being an enjoyable appetizer, light and a little bit sweet. Ben especially enjoyed the capers (which may have been fried) that were scattered around the mountain of chopped beets.
I opted for the Caesar salad without anchovies (although anchovies are available if you want them.) It was a generous portion covered in just the right amount of creamy dressing, and the croutons were the perfect texture - mostly crispy, but not so crispy that crumbs fly everywhere when you try to eat them. The best part of the salad was the sun-dried tomatoes, which were bursting with flavor.
While waiting for the main course, I sipped on a delicious cocktail called "Raspberry Intrigue" which included raspberries, vanilla, and cardamom. The cocktail cost almost as much as the whole three-course prix fixe lunch, but it was really good.
Next, I had the Root Beer Braised Short Ribs, and Ben had the Slow-Roasted Salmon Confit. The short ribs were unbelievably tender, hardly requiring a knife. I could taste the faintest bit of root beer, but I would have liked a somewhat stronger sauce. The flavor of the meat itself really came through, though, so those who love braised beef are sure to enjoy this dish. It was served with mashed potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts, which all accompanied the meat nicely.
Ben's salmon was tender and juicy, and he found it to be cooked perfectly, not dry or slimy. It had a slightly smoky flavor and didn't need to rely on a sauce or seasoning; the natural flavor was enough on its own. On the side was a parsnip puree that was surprisingly sweet and delicious, and the puree was topped with very tasty tomatoes.
My dessert was a refreshing berry pannacotta with vanilla anglaise, a nice summery treat.
Ben got the sorbet trio, which included coconut, lemon, and raspberry sorbets, and it was topped by a giant fresh raspberry.
Overall, we were pleased with the meal. The courses were evenly spaced and unhurried, water refills were frequent, and our server was knowledgeable and quick. The ambiance on the patio was very nice, and the inside looked comfortable as well, a sleek combination of brick and wood. It was a great way to start Restaurant Week, and I hope to return in the future to give the regular menu a try.
*This rating is based solely on a Restaurant Week visit, which may not be entirely indicative of the restaurant during a normal time. You can check out the full menu and other information on the restaurant's website.
Address: 33 Stanhope Street, Boston, MA 02116 (behind Back Bay station)
Email: AskUs [at] 33restaurant.com
Dinner Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 5pm-11pm
Bar Hours: Tuesday, 5pm-11pm; Wednesday-Saturday, 5pm-2am
Lounge Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 10pm-2am