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Restaurant Review: Meritage

Tucked away within the Boston Harbor Hotel, the award-winning Meritage, overlooking Rowes Wharf, offers clients one of the more spectacular settings in the city in which to dine. The dining room consists of a long, orange and cream space, with buffed wooden floors and distinctive sets of stainless steel track lighting that illuminate the room to create a very warm setting. The black marble tables are comfortably spaced and offer a beautiful view of the surrounding harbor.

Meritage is home to Chef Daniel Bruce, well-known in Boston’s wining and dining circles for his Boston Wine Festival, now in its 16th year, which brings world-renowned wine producers from across the globe to Boston. Wine is definitely his forte – Meritage boasts over 900 wine selections and has won the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence in 2004 for having “one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world”.

The concept of Bruce’s offering is unique, marrying food to wine within a menu that characterizes its dishes by six styles of wine progressing from light to heavy: sparklers, light whites, full-bodied whites, fruity reds, spicy/earthy reds, and robust reds. Each plate of food is offered in both small ($15) and large ($29) portions, allowing guests to create ‘flights’ and taste a larger selection.

We started the evening with a petit amuse, a fried scallop and tomato tartar – just enough to tease our palate. Following this were the oysters, our selection from the “sparklers” section of the menu: a unique combination of warmed, yet raw, Duxbury oysters topped with creamy spinach and cured lemon. The dish was an interesting combination of tastes, from salty oysters to piquant spinach, and finished with sweet lemon essence. This was paired beautifully with a glass of bubbly Veuve Clicquot de Ponsardin champagne.

Next, the swordfish – a hearty dish comprising a 3 oz. portion of meaty fish. The carrot, coconut and ginger broth created a strong contrasting base, accented by delicate slices of crisp lotus root. The fish was paired with a glass of pinot grigio – with earthy notes that nicely balanced the coconut.

To match our glass of luscious barbaresco, we chose the mint and vanilla roasted baby lamb chops. The meat was highly infused with vanilla, nicely offset by sour cherries and muted by creamy butterball potatoes. Although it wasn’t the best lamb I have tasted in Boston this year, it was certainly the most unique in diversity of flavor.

The final two dishes were the perfect ending to our personalized tasting menu: short ribs and venison loin. The short ribs were braised until tender in a zinfandel sauce and accompanied by an extremely creamy parmesan and kale gnocchi that melted in the mouth. The venison was a perfectly supple pink round of meat, wrapped in prosciutto and served over beluga lentils and meaty pieces of bacon. The black currant sauce merged the variety of tastes perfectly together and created an exquisite finish to the meal.

For dessert, Chef Bruce maintains his wine pairing concept by offering dessert tasting selections inspired by five typical dessert wine flavors: citrus, white fruit, red fruit, chocolate and nut. We opted for the red fruit and chocolate tasting plates. Each dessert plate was a handsome collection of small samplings. The highlights? The thick and creamy cape cranberry brulee and the very dense dark chocolate tart – a chocoholic’s inebriant.

Bruce definitely wins points for style. The menu is perfectly put together for any food and wine aficionado. Aesthetic appeal, through the entwining of food with wine, is the overwhelming theme of the Meritage dining experience – a well-groomed, complete experience that will compel you to return.

Rating:
Very Good

Details:

Dinner for two
with moderately priced wine ~ $140

Complimentary Valet Parking Available

Sunday Brunch: 10:30am – 2:00pm

Meritage Restaurant

Boston Harbor Hotel
70 Rowes Wharf
Boston, MA 02110
(617) 439-3995
www.meritagetherestaurant.com

March 14, 2005
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