So we braved the crowds and checked out the new Natick Collection mall this past weekend. If you haven’t heard, the Natick Mall added on an enormous wing of high-end shops and changed their name. The inside is beautiful, but the parking is extremely annoying and non-intuitive.
We walked around for a bit and then stumbled upon Sel De La Terre, the second location of a well-known Boston [Southern] French bistro. This restaurant has been on my “wish list” for quite some time… but did I dare try it out with a 3-year old in tow? We glanced at the menu, noticed they had a kid’s version and decided to go for it. After all, restaurants that offer children’s menus deserve to have children dine with them!
We were definitely the most under-dressed folks in the place, sporting jeans, baseball hats and fleeces. We were also the only couple sporting a toddler, though we did see a few other older children.
They held our stroller for us and we were seated promptly. Chance was provided with a Thanksgiving-themed sheet to color, along with a few crayons. I was quite impressed, considering the overall vibe of this place was semi-formal, bordering on pretentious (for a mall restaurant).
The wait staff was very friendly and attentive and allowed us to order Chance’s food right away –avoiding a pre-meal meltdown. The children’s menu had a decent number of offerings and we settled on the Mixed Green Salad ($6.50) and an order of Rosemary Pomme Frites (also $6.50). They also provided plastic, lidded cups with straws… and happily watered down the apple juice for us.
When the Pomme Frites arrived, we had to remind ourselves that they were for Chance… they were delicious! Even thinner than traditional shoe-string fries, with a crispy, salty, rosemary seasoning. VERY good… The salad was tasty too, though a bit overpriced for what it was — just a large handful of mixed greens with four cherry tomatoes.
We started our meal with an Eggplant-Goat Cheese Puree (with olive oil and toasted black walnuts) to spread on our bread ($5). It was good, but a bit bland and a little too filling for an appetizer.
For lunch, Dan had the Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($8.95), with shaved ricotta salata, avocado, smoked bacon and bacon aioli on semolina bread. It was served with homemade potato chips and a red cabbage slaw. Dan thought it was tasty, though a little dry — but this was probably because it was all white meat. Overall he thought the flavor was very good and he enjoyed it. I ordered the Cheese Plate ($9) starter as my meal. This came with aged gouda, a nice chunk of blue cheese, a slice of a semi-firm white cheese, a few grapes, toasted crostini, a quince chutney and a small salad with truffle oil. A nice selection of seasonal cheeses and accompaniments — and was also quite filling (we could have been fine with skipping the eggplant-goat cheese puree all together).
I would definitely like to try this place again and go for dinner (child-free next time). The menu was interesting, focusing on traditional french comfort foods with a modern twist. They have a full bar and a nice wine selection. They also host weekly “Wine Nights” (Tuesdays in Natick, Wednesdays in Boston), providing a four-course tasting menu with wine pairings for a fixed price. Both locations also have a “Boulangerie“, where you can buy fresh-baked breads, pastries and pre-made sandwiches, along with a nice selection of cappuchino and espresso drinks.
Overall, a nicer-than-usual mall restaurant … with a very grown-up atmosphere that is accommodating to children. Could be a decent date night, but you may be better off hitting their waterfront Boston location for a bit more romance.