This past Friday night was DN (Date Night), so the Husband and I headed to Sage, at 1395 Washington Street in the South End. Sage has been a staple in the North End food scene for many years… and is a place I have always wanted to try, but never felt like dealing with the few tables and long lines. When I heard that they moved to the South End — and to a larger space — I got very excited and finally booked some ressies for us a few weeks ago.
It was a rainy nights, so we opted to valet it — which we probably would have done anyway — though, this part of the South End is not awful for parking. We were seated immediately and were offered a table in either the front window (in the bar area) or a table in the dining room. We opted for the interior, as the rain was sort of depressing.
I had looked at the menu on-line before we went out and took particular interest in the tasting menu; however, that said… past experience has taught me that restaurants do not do a very good job at keeping their websites current. I cannot tell you how often I run into outdated menus; it is very annoying. So, it was a nice surprise to see that “Today’s Tasting Menu” was exactly the same menu that appeared on the Sage website.
After a little coaxing, I convinced the Husband to do the tasting as well… but he declared it my “Mother’s Day Dinner” (from a cash-spending perspective). Which was fine by me… as long as I got the dishes I had been thinking about all day! The tasting menu is priced at $65 per person, with an additional $25 per person for wine pairing.
Bread arrived to the table shortly after. It was a savory, salty and slightly oily (in a good way) foccacia bread…. served with a fresh tomato and basil dipping chutney. It was very good. I LOVE salty bread.
The first course arrived and we were both pleased. The Husband selected the Kobe Carpaccio with arugula, shaved Parmesan and a truffle vinaigrette. He tried like crazy, but I just wouldn’t agree to taste it! He said the beef melted in his mouth, with almost a sushi-like texture. He loved it. I had the Puree Sun Choke Soup, served on top of a crab salad. The bowl was placed in front of me, with the pile of crab salad in the center. The server then poured the soup, from a teapot-like vessel, in a circular fashion around the salad. It was a nice way to present the soup. The soup itself was tasty. It didn’t blow me away, but it was very good. The overall course was served with a [very light pour] of 2006 Fournier Sauvignon Blanc, from the Loire Valley.
My biggest complaint of the evening was the wine pairing. The wines were paired well and I enjoyed each one… however, the pours were minuscule at best. A ‘typical’ glass of wine is 4 to 6 oz… and most pairings give you at least 2 oz glasses (just as flights of wine do). However, our pours didn’t even seem to be a full two ounces… it was quite disappointing.
For the second course, I went with the Lobster & Truffle Tortellini, which was served in a basil butter. I thought these were good, but not great. I know that Sage is known for their homemade pastas… so I was a little bummed that I didn’t love the tortellini. It didn’t seem fully cooked… it was a bit tough. The flavor of the lobster and the basil butter were great, but I also didn’t detect a strong truffle flavor.
The Husband had the Hand Rolled Potato Gnocchi, served with favas, tomato concasse and a ramp pesto. The gnocchi were AWESOME. Tender, delicious and the ramp pesto was a unique touch. Both the Husband and I loved his dish. For a pairing, we were served the 2005 Fillipo Galliano Barbera d’Alba, from Piemonte. This was a nice wine, which went well with both dishes.
For the main course, I had the Seared Sea Scallops, served with roasted mushrooms and pea tendrils. The scallops were very good, but I didn’t see any pea tendrils — which is what I was looking most forward to. I don’t mind if a restaurant runs out of an item and has to supply a substitution… I just wish they told the diner ahead of time. It’s all about expectations…
The Husband had the Rice-smoked Duck Breast, with sautéed spinach and a fennel Spuma. The duck was served medium-rare, as it should be. The Husband said it was a bit fatty for his liking, but that overall flavor was nice. The pairing was a 2004 Feudi di San Gregoriao, Aglianico “Rubrato”, from Campania… which paired well with my scallops, but didn’t quite work with the duck.
After our meal, the forth course was a Formaggi Tasting, served with a Warres Nimrod Porto. I didn’t take notes, so I don’t remember what the three cheese were… but each was paired with some type of ‘sweet accompaniament’… such as honey, prune puree and another fruit puree. All the cheese and fruit worked very nicely together and the entire course worked well with the porto.
Lastly, both the husband and I went with the Lemon Sunburst Cake, served with a citrus consomme and basil ice cream. The other option, which we passed on, was a Chocolate-Hazelnut Timbale, served with apricot jelly. The cake was nice; moist, not too sweet and it worked well with the consommé. The basil ice cream was good… but I really wanted a burst of basil flavor, which it did not have. It was a very subtle basil undertone.
We both decided to start with a cocktail, despite the fact that we were doing the wine pairing with our meal. I went with the Ginger Rogers ($10), a concoction of Leblon Cachaca, house made ginger syrup, mint, fresh lime juice and sparkling rose. The Husband had a Tuscan Flare ($10), Bombay Sapphire Gin, muddled rosemary, orange bitters and fresh orange juice. Both drinks were interesting. I liked the flavor combinations, but thought mine was a bit light on the alcohol.
Overall, a good meal. The service was only so-so and like I said earlier, we were quite disappointed with the bar servings. The space is nicely done, with exposed brick, translucent cream-colored curtains adorning the wall and some beautiful color photographs. I think it is definitely date-night worthy, but most-likely not kid-friendly. Would I go back? Probably one more time… just to see if the bartender was a bit better.