Carlo and I were pleasantly surprised by our dinner at Beacon Hill Bistro over the weekend. We needed a table for 7 without much notice, and so BHB was selected out of convenience more than out of a desire to go there. I’ve been there several times for brunch, which is not bad and certainly the best weekend breakfast in Beacon Hill (sorry Paramount). I’ve been there a couple times for dinner, which was fine, but certainly not memorable. After a very satisfying meal there this weekend, BHB might move up my list of go-to neighborhood places for a meal with parents or to catch up with friends, particularly since there wasn’t really anything on that list before.
For those who have not been, BHB has a relaxed neighborhood bistro feel–the dress is casual (the waiters wear black black button-up shirts and pony tails), everyone is friendly, people talk loud if they feel like it. I’m probably not the best judge of this, but I find it to be very unpretentious, though not cheap (entrees run from low to high $20’s). The food is bistro-style, but not as heavy as the food at a typical Parisian bistro. The wine list was varied in price and varietal. We have been trying to go a little cheaper on the wines lately, and I’m finding that I like bottles in the $30’s as much as I liked those in the $60’s. We ordered a 2007 Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige. Nothing special, but very quaffable and the table unanimously agreed to get a second bottle rather than order a red.
On this particular evening, I ordered my meal very recklessly, and it could have gone badly. You see, Carlo has started this new [annoying] thing where we [actually he] “call” things on menus, sort of like how one calls shotgun. But we all know people that call shotgun two hours before you actually get in the car; Carlo is that kind of person. He looks at the menu before we go out to eat and decides what he wants. Then he quickly peruses the specials list before I’ve had a chance to set my purse down, decides whether or not to change his initial decision, and then he “calls” what he’s getting, which means that I can’t get it. And unfortunately, 80% of the time, I would have ordered what he ordered. So, when we got to BHB, I went sort of crazy and tried to read the menu and the specials in under 20 seconds, basically just reading for key words [ie, bacon, truffle, crispy pork belly, etc] and screamed out what I wanted as quickly as I could.
Luckily I did not injure anyone during this process, but I did order two specials without thinking, picking my appetizer because it contained the words egg and truffle and my entree because it contained the words chestnut and parsnip. I ended up with a farm egg on sourdough toast with shaved black truffle and chestnut crusted veal chop with baked apples and parsnip on the side. The farm egg was good, not spectacular, but good. I am not a huge fan of shaved black truffle; cooks get a little heavy-handed with it and it starts to taste like dirt to me. But this was pretty good, satisfying, if a little cliche. But my entree was delicious. There was a lot of stuff on the plate, as there was a huge portion of veal, tons of little parsnip discs, and an entire baked apple. Nonetheless, it looked very pretty with whole red berries and shredded greens garnishing the plate, and the veal was perfectly cooked medium rare and the flavors all went together beautifully. I enjoyed every bite of it. Others were equally satisifed with their dishes, though I was too busy eating mine to try them, which included French-style gnocchi and a duck confit for appetizers and scallops with wild mushrooms and an herb broth and lightly fried skate wing for entrees. It says a lot that Carlo enjoyed his meal since earlier in the day he had decided to go on a “wings crawl” (as opposed to a pub crawl) and wasn’t feeling so hot. My dessert was also great. It was a play on s’mores, which included a molten marshmallow chocolate cake with banana ice cream and graham crackers on the side. The graham crackers were pointless, but the marshmallow melting into the chocolate fondant was decadent and delicious.
I hesitate to recommend BHB unconditionally. As I said, I’ve had forgettable meals there in the past. Either we hit it on a good night or the food is genuinely getting better and more interesting. This meal probably took me from “skip it” to “worth a try” and hopefully after a few more visits I’ll be able to recommend it without caveat.