There is a method to my madness. I only consider restaurants I haven’t yet tried, and I carefully evaluate restaurants and menus based on the following criteria:
- Value: Does the restaurant week price discount allow me to dine at a restaurant I couldn‘t otherwise afford?
- Choice: Does this restaurant offer three or more offerings per course?
- Differentiation: Does this menu offer one or more unique dishes and/or does the menu feature an ingredient or dish I’ve never tried?
- Special features: Does this menu offer any special features, i.e. a wine pairing or complimentary drink?
Once I’ve color-coded my chart, my choices are based on if/when I can get reservations at the green restaurants. I always aim to hit four new restaurants, but usually I’m lucky if I can squeeze in two. However, I’m not going to complain about getting to try two new restaurants!
This year, my trusty spreadsheet got thrown for a loop for one reason and one reason only¾I never expected the need to create an “outdoor seating” column in March! Mother Nature certainly felt generous last week, blessing us with a sunny, 80-degree day (why she can’t wait until the weekend to give us these little gifts is beyond my comprehension). I ignored my spreadsheet completely and set out on a mission to sit on a patio.
|at Forum, 755 Boylston St.|
Whoa¾when I’m wrong, I cop to it. I was wrong. The meals my friend and I had at Forum were excellent! We had to wait a while for a patio table, but that’s not the restaurant’s fault; I blame a four-top of really stiff-looking MetroWest types that lingered at their table far longer than acceptable by any standard of courtesy. But, I enjoyed an Aviation at the bar while we waited for our table.
Having studied the menu earlier that day, I already knew what I was going to order, and knowing my friend as well as I do, I was fairly certain I could predict his picks as well. I had the Trio Tartare (tuna, steak, and salmon tartare), Salmon with Bulgur Wheat, Rapini, Pomelo, and King Oyster Mushrooms, and for dessert I had the Meyer Lemon Meringue with Graham Cracker and Earl Gray. My friend had the Tortellini (duck confit and butternut squash filling in sage brown butter), Mock “Wellington” (filet mignon in puff pastry with wild mushrooms and bordelaise sauce), and the German Chocolate Cake with coconut, pecans and Guinness.
The meringue? Eh. I like meringues, and my lukewarm reaction is certainly no reflection on the chef, I’m just not very likely to fawn over dessert. In fact, I would love to see more restaurants allow diners to skip dessert and instead choose an additional appetizer, a side dish, or an aperitif or cordial.
All of the appetizer and entrée dishes were amazing, but the one that I felt a compulsive need to replicate was the steak tartare. While I used to find the idea of raw beef repulsive, my mind opened up at some point. I’ve been on a mission to try steak tartare for a few weeks now, and the discounted price and small portion on the restaurant week menu allowed me to try it without committing to an entire order (not that there’s ever much of a chance that I’m not going to like a new dish, but I’m very mindful when it comes to animal proteins).
To make steak tartare, start with good, naturally raised sirloin¾if you can find grass fed sirloin, this would be the time to buy it. Although you can cheat and have your butcher grind it for you, true steak tartare is not made with ground beef, but with very finely chopped steak. Time to sharpen your chef’s knife!
I chopped and chopped and chopped until the steak was broken up into miniscule bits. However, I decided to stray from the classic steak tartare, and I flavored it a bit differently. Although I stuck with the classic capers and egg yolk, a bit of grated orange peel, ground coriander, and rose water gave a Middle Eastern flavor to my very first batch of steak tartare. If you’re a steak lover, try this recipe served with some toasted pita crisps!
Recipe - Steak Tartare with Middle Eastern Flavors
8 oz/230 g top-quality sirloin
2 t/10 g ground coriander
1 t/5 g orange rind, very finely grated
½ t/2.5 g rose water
1 t/5 g salt-packed capers, chopped
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
2 egg yolks
Four whole wheat mini-pitas, quartered and toasted, to serve
Using your sharpest knife, chop the sirloin until its consistency is very fine, but coarser than ground beef. In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped sirloin, coriander, orange rind, rose water, capers, and black pepper. Using a wooden spoon, fold the seasonings into the chopped sirloin. Set aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
After the sirloin mixture has chilled, divide the mixture in half. Using ring molds, press the steak into the molds on individual plates. Make an indentation in the top surface, creating a “well” for the egg yolk. Top the steak tartares with a raw egg yolk, and serve with quartered and toasted mini-pitas.
Nutritional information: Serves two. With pita crisps, 393 calories, 23 g fat, 25.9 g carbohydrates, 29.4 g protein. Without pita crisps, 273 calories, 22 g fat, 1.9 g carbohydrates, 23.4 g protein