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Gargoyles in Davis Square, Boston


baw
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We went to dinner tonight at Gargoyles on the Square, in Davis Square in Boston, for the first time. We recently moved here, and this was our first post-move nice meal. We were very pleasantly surprised and impressed by both the food and the service.

I was quite happy upon reading the menu: sous vide and rooster combs are two terms that immediately jumped out at me. These are two terms I didn't anticipate at our local fancy restaurant but was excited to see. We started with a half-bottle of Trimbach 2002 Pinot Gris Reserve for $19. Nothing special, but we're partial to Alsatian Pinot Gris so we'd get again.

We shared an appetizer of Petit Veal Cutlet with cream cheese noodles, bee pollen popcorn, cocoa nibs, and onion powder for $10. When I read "cream cheese noodles" it evoked an image of yogurt noodles at WD-50 (NYC). They were actually pasta noodles in a cream cheese sauce. The only negative of the dish was that it did't seem quite freshly prepared - the noodles were just a little bit congealed and the veal seemed reheated. The bee pollen popcorn, while tasty on its own, also did nothing for the dish and seemed like an afterthought. That said, this dish was really great. The cocoa nibs and onion powder combination sprinked around the dish were a great complement to the veal cutlet. I really liked the play on the beef stroganoff/veal goulash dishes that this appetizer evoked with the sauteed veal cutlet on the thick, creamy noodles. I would absolutely get this dish again and it was a great value at $10.

For our entrees, my hubby wanted to order sous vide wild sockeye salmon, with shellfish gnocci and other garnishes that I can't recall. They were out of sous-vide bags, and he passed on the pan fried version of the dish. But the mahi-mahi special he ordered ($26) instead was delicious. The fish was cooked perfectly. Tender and barely cooked through. Sat atop a plump helping of pureed butternut squash and topped with smoked pears. The smoked pears chunks were really interesting and flavorful. There was also crispy fried sage and pancetta in a brown butter sauce garnishing the dish. The combination of all those garnishes was off putting to hubby in theory, but in practice the dish worked great. I had the "signature" duck confit with sticky rice, cashews and bean sprouts ($24). The duck confit was also perfect. Crispy, succulent skin and delicious meat. The coconutty sticky rice, with cashew and mango and bean sprouts were a nice foil to the rich meat.

We finished with one dessert - butterscotch fondant, black truffle ice cream, dried strawberries and snap-crackle-pop ($10). (Aside - Its amusing that the pastry chef's name is John George). Anyway, to be blunt, the butterscotch fondant was not good at all and the dried strawberries were not the uber-dried crispy kind that would have served the dish well. However, the black truffle ice cream was excellent and had lots of bits of black truffle. This scoop of ice cream made ordering this dish worthwhile and I have high hopes for this pastry chef's other work, although there is no way I'd go for that fondant again.

In the latter part of our meal, we each enjoyed a cocktail from the bar - a Sazerac and an Old Fashioned. Although mildly concerned by the presence of such drinks as "The Hot Tub" on the cocktail menu, we cocktail snobs we very pleased to find that that Gargoyles has a competent (wo)man behind the bar. Our service throughout the meal was excellent, the dining room itself was comfortable and a pleasure to dine in, and all of the food was well seasoned. Overall, a home run dinner and we look forward to go back again. I was surprised to find such a forward thinking menu in Boston and am curious as to whether there are other chefs around the Boston area experimenting with new preparations/flavor combinations as well. And fwiw - the currently available menu for Gargoyles online doesn't do justice to some of the fun new stuff on its Fall menu. (I think chefs recently changed??)

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This is probably one of my favorite restaurants in the greater Boston area - we go about once a month.

It's gotten considerably better since Jason took over the kitchen & Paul still holds his own in the bar.

Eating pizza with a fork and knife is like making love through an interpreter.
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I'm confused, you didn't like the food, or most of it, but its was "a home run" meal. I know the chef(Jason) and think highly of him, but critiques such as yours are confusing to those that may want to try his food.

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I'm confused, you didn't like the food, or most of it, but its was "a home run" meal. I know the chef(Jason) and think highly of him, but critiques such as yours are confusing to those that may want to try his food.

Now I'm confused...from my reading, the only thing they didn't like was the butterscotch dessert. Was there something in particular that made you think they didn't like the rest of the food?

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I have heard mixed reviews about this place, but after reading egulletters opinions on the place I will definitely give it a try.

any recommendations on any dishes or drinks? also what kind of beer do they serve?

BEARS, BEETS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
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Hi timh - I'm sorry you found the review confusing, but I'm not sure how one would infer anything but a very positive and straightforward review! Maybe I'm too much of an optimist, but in my world a great, forward thinking, good value meal with excellent service and good drinks is definitely a home run, 'even' with an appetizer that was slightly not fresh with one of 4 garnishes less than perfectly melding and a bum fondant. You don't get a lot of 5 component appetizers where all the components perfectly meld - I've had awesome dishes at WD-50 where I would classify one of the components as "an afterthought". You don't have to get a 1600 on the SATs to be in the 99th percentile! (At least in my day... I think they may have renormalized the scoring system, but you get my point :) )

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I have heard mixed reviews about this place, but after reading egulletters opinions on the place I will definitely give it a try.

any recommendations on any dishes or drinks?  also what kind of beer do they serve?

I really like sitting at the bar. You can order off both the bar menu (great value) and the dining room menu. I'm not sure what they have for draft beer. The menu changes seasonally, but favorites have been: buttermilk battered duck legs, fig & pistachio crusted ribeye, tryptch of lobster, the pick plate, their burger & the bluecheese, bacon & ranch fries. For dessert, the pumpin pudding & cheese cake are both decadent.

Eating pizza with a fork and knife is like making love through an interpreter.
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We had dinner at Gargoyles tonight, and really enjoyed it. There's an option for a 6-course tasting menu with wines for $90, so we decided to try that. The tasting dishes are just smaller versions of existing menu items.

We started with the tuna poke. This had a lot of flavors going on, including ginger, pickled bean sprouts, nori, garlic, jalapeno, sesame, and some thin slices of yellow beets. I really enjoyed this dish--it basically whacks you over the head with flavors, in a good way.

Second dish was the grilled salmon collar--YUM. I think this is my favorite part of a fish. It's rich and fatty, and was nicely smoky on the outside, almost raw inside. It was served with hyssop butter, toasted almond milk, truffle, filo strands and lemon caviar. I loved the slight sweetness of the almond milk with the salmon. My only complaint about this dish is the lemon caviar--it had a slightly bitter taste, and didn't really add much lemon flavor. Overall, though, this was really good.

Next was xiaoxing marinated halibut, served with kung pao calamari. This was nice, but by far the least interesting of all the dishes. The fish and calamari were perfectly cooked. Flavor-wise, it tasted like a good kung-pao dish, but not really different than a good chinese restaurant dish. There was also too much plain steamed rice (too filling).

Veal cutlet with cream cheese noodles. I pretty much agree with everything baw said about this dish earlier. I loved the flavors, especially the onion powder. The veal was also perfectly cooked.

Last savory dish was the duck confit with mango/coconut sticky rice and cashews. This was SO good. Unfortunately, I was too full to finish all the rice, but I would have eaten buckets of it if I could. The duck was also incredibly tasty, with really crispy skin and meat falling apart.

Dessert was a very dense chocolate cake with an anise, cinnamon and curry caramel. Also on the side were kaffir lime and lemongrass ice creams. The caramel was awesome, as well as the ice cream. The lime ice cream in particular had a brilliant, pure flavor.

Our server Kat (Cat?) was really good, and apparently it's only her first week. She knew the menu thoroughly, and was clearly psyched about the food. Wine pairings were nice, but nothing mind-blowing.

This is one of the best valued meals we've had in a while, and we'll definitely be back. Next time we'll probably just order from the menu, and check out the bar too.

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Went to the bar in Gargoyles tonight for a quick solo drink and some grub. The bartender, Paul, was so great. Easily best I've had in my short time here in Boston. So professional and so on top of the very busy bar. I had a really nice perfect Manhattan. Its too bad... now I'm going to have a very easy temptation for weeknight drinks...

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