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Not Your Ordinary Pudding

What a simply, richly, softly, deliciously, and classically divine yet unpretentious experience to dine at the Pudding! Think pinks, greens, and white-light twinkles, set in a non-ostentatious and rugged way. Imagine the fresh fragrance of yellow tulips wafting over you as you ascend the staircase. May they take your jacket? Welcome to the Pudding, you are now Up Stairs.

If the quality of the bread indicates restaurant excellence, we knew from the moment we sat down that we were in for something special. The thought crossed our minds that perhaps we could simply indulge in the cheese bread, the tomato bread, and the slices of sourdough and call it a night. Olive oil and a pot of salt complemented the bread, and service came as smoothly as could be desired.

Drink options span the spectrum: wines run from $6 a glass to $220 for half a bottle. Ports, Sherries, Calvados, Armagnacs, Cognacs, Brandies, Grappas, and liqueurs and eaux de vie avail you. Should it be Scotch you might prefer, simply request a list.

For the first course, I thought the Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Soup sounded fantastic. It actually proved to be the only horrendously unpalatable part of the evening. Rather than being soupy, it looked and tasted like canned casserole paste. Spangler serves better soups. I made only a tiny dent in it, which in retrospect was a good move, considering that the recipe – as provided later by the waiter – calls for half a pound of butter and one quart of the best quality heavy cream. Apparently, the recipe serves only six to boot! Ugh – just the thought of it seems to add a few pounds.

The soup aside, the other dishes tasted more healthfully delicious, although the phrase “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” stands out in a panoply of “Drawn Butter,” “Pan Gravy,” and “Parmesan Cream.” Joella started with a beautiful salad that I will order next time – Fresh Maine Crab Salad with avocado; orange, pink and yellow grapefruit; orange truffle; and pink aioli. Other starters include the following: Pappardelle, Pumpkin Pasta Pillow, Escargot, Foie Gras, Potato Gnocchi, and Goat Cheese and Mache. Salad options involve picturesque words such as endive, frisee, and arugula.

For the entr‚e, we chose well. Joella’s Champagne Rosemary Risotto artfully splashed the marinated mushroom adorned plate and flavorfully touched the tongue. My Pan-Seared Wild Striped Bass atop Taylor Bay scallops, cockles, an artichoke risotto cake, and spaghetti squash essentially made it a dreamily satiating night. Other options range from lobster to duck to pork to chicken to chops to prime rib.

Dessert would have been overkill. That being said, had I decided to order one it probably would have been the Chocolate Souffl‚ Cake with Warmed Sugared Grand Marnier; however, the Chocolate Mint Bombe, the Pink Peppercorn Meringue, and the Maple Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Whipped Cream might have beckoned.

Goodness, if one has not found the love of one’s life, then
one could take to dinner a sincere friend who has found the love of her life. This restaurant is a place to celebrate all that is well worth celebrating – one’s graduation from HBS, for example. In fact, the Haack family of four now has reservations for June 6. They will cross paths with the Fosters. Noting that, the Zagat’s guide reports an Upstairs at the Pudding experience as feeling “like a perfectly catered dinner in your country mansion.” We MBA’s might do well to play make believe for a moment until those country mansions actually materialize out of our debt-ridden lives.

March 12, 2001
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