Chef’s Tasting Menu at No. 9 Park in Beacon Hill


My big birthday dinner this year was at No. 9 Park in Beacon Hill. I knew we were going out — somewhere “within walking distance of the Ladder District” (because D let me pick the pre-dinner cocktail location), but I had no idea where we were eating. I was ridiculously happy (and surprised) when I found out it was No. 9!

No. 9 is one of my all-time favorite restaurants — it may even be #1 for me. D and I have been 3 previous times… twice alone, where we did their (then) 9-course tasting — paired with wine (the first time) and the smaller tasting menu (I think it was 5 courses back then), also paired with wine. The last time we were there was about 6 years ago, when we told our good friends I was pregnant. That night we did the smaller tasting again… but without wine of course!

I have been wanting to go back ever since… but it is a hefty price tag. Nowadays, they serve one large Chef’s Tasting Menu. It’s seven courses for $112/person and if you want it paired with wine, you tack on another $74 per person. The four of us (myself, D and another couple) opted to do the tasting, sans the wine, but had our server pair 3 different glasses for us… that would overlap between the courses.

One of the BEST and most unique things about No.9’s tasting menu is that each person at the table can make special requests… for example, “no seafood” or “no red meat”. This is very rare. Most restaurants require that the entire table order the tasting, that everyone at the table get the same thing (vegetarian or non-vegetarian) and that no substitutions be made. No. 9 is the exact opposite. They encourage you to customized your tasting to match your needs based on allergies, preferences and/or exceptions.

At our table, 3 out of 4 of us had exceptions! I didn’t want any beef or pork; my girlfriend didn’t want any fish or seafood and her husband is allergic to pomegranate — (one of the dishes had pomegranate molasses in it, according to our server). D was the only one to get the tasting exactly as it appeared on the menu.

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First of all, I DID have my camera with me… but it was way too dark to take any pictures. This is a huge regret, as the presentation of every single dish was unbelievable. You’ll just have to take my word for it… as I can’t even come close to describing the beauty of each plate.

The first thing to arrive to our table was the fresh-made (and still warm) dinner rolls. As we used our butter, before it was even empty, the little crock was replaced with a fresh, blemish-free, version. The service at No. 9 is impeccable. The best I have ever experienced in the entire city of Boston. I hear it’s only second to the staff at Menton, Barbara Lynch’s (other and new) 5-star restaurant. No. 9 was her first and Menton is her seventh endeavor in the city of Boston.

For our first and second courses, 0ur server brought us a glass of Prosecco ($11). This paired perfectly with both courses… no surprise there.

FIRST COURSE

Kingfish Crudogarbanzo beans, harissa, preserved lemon (our “no seafood” friend was served the Cucumber GazpachoFrench feta, Marcona almonds, Greek yogurt)

This came as very thinly sliced sashimi, with teeny little dollops of pureed garbanzo beans and beautiful red harissa speckling the plate. A perfect start. My friend LOVED the soup… it looked gorgeous!

SECOND COURSE

Steamed Black Codpork belly, grilled oysters, paddlefish roe (our “no seafood” friend was served the Assiette of Heirloom Tomatoeswhipped ricotta, saffron, purslane)

This was my favorite course. It was fricken unbelievable. The peice of cod was sitting in a sauce that tasted like butter, only better. The sauce was pepperd with the paddlefish roe and the fish was topped with a small peice of kelp and super crispy, fried cod skin. This dish was literally orgasmic. We couldn’t stop talking about it or moaning while we ate it! Superb!

For the third, forth and fifth courses, we were given a glass of Pinot Blanc ($12).

THIRD COURSE

Housemade Bigolifruits de mer, squid ink, garlic scapes

Bigoli is a type of pasta, that is typically made by extruding it in the shape of a tube. This dish was presented as a neat little twirl of long, black pasta, topped with cockles, oysters and smoked clams (I think). It had an amazing sauce on it that was very thin and buttery, not masking the delicate flavors of the pasta itself. The seafood that came with it was amazing. I think this was my second favorite course. It was delectable.

FOURTH COURSE

Prune Stuffed Gnocchifoie gras, toasted almonds, Vin Santo (which is what I chose) OR you also had the option to select Seared Labelle Farms Foie Grascorn bread, huckleberries, sour cream

Both of these dishes were considered “optional supplements” and tacked an additonal $16 on the price of the 7-course tasting. Kind of interesting, since they ARE part of the 7-courses and you don’t really have any other options than to omit them all together (to keept the $112 price tag).

Three of us got the gnocchi (this dish is a house specialty and still came with a little foie gras — which I LOVE — so you got a taste of each). The gnocchi were tender little pillows, stuffed with a prune paste and topped with 2 little medallions of foie gras. I’m not sure what type of sauce was on the pasta, but it was very light and complimented the flavors of the dish. They were scrumptuous.

Our other friend who got the seared foie gras absolutely loved his dish. It was a beautiful presentation with the huckleberry drizzle on the plate and the foie gras sitting on top of a little house-made corn bread. Delicious!!!

FIFTH COURSE

Duet of Poussinchanterelles, dandelion greens, Vidalia onion

This is where things start getting cloudy — because all the pre-dinner cocktails and the two glasses of wine I had now finished! This dish was served with the poussin cooked two ways. Poussin tends to mean “spring chicken”. These chickens must have been babies, as the little leg was no more the size of cornish game hen. It had been coated in some type of batter (I THINK) and then there was also either a peice of breast or thigh that had been cooked confit (in it’s own fat). They were both very juicy, meaty and flavorful. The dandelion greens were a bit bitter for me, but the little caramlelized onions and chanterelles were very yummy.

For the final courses, our server poured a full-bodied Bordeaux ($12).

SIXTH COURSE

Smoked Lamb Saddleradish, buttermilk, baby romaine

The other three at the table seemed to really love this dish… saying it was the best lamb they had ever had. I don’t eat lamb, so I was served duck. The duck is not on the menu, so I am not sure how it was cooked… but I feel like it was presented very similiarly to their lamb dish, including the little, cooked radish. This was my least favorite course. Not because it was bad, but because I should have said no duck. 🙂

There were three perfectly cooked (medium rare), beautfiul, duck medallions on the plate. They were tender, almost buttery and had a beautiful flavor. The reason this was not my favorite is because they were just too similar to “meat” for me. I’m sure anyone else would have LOVED this dish!

Before the seventh and final course, we were served a small palate cleanser of Heirloom Tomato Sorbetserved with frozen red currants. This mini-course was a surprise to the tastebuds. It looked like sorbet, it felt like sorbet in your mouth, but it was savory with a mild, fresh tomato taste. It paired perfectly with the little frozen red currents that sat next to it and perfectly cleansed my palate! I really enjoyed this.

SEVENTH COURSE

Zucchini Cakegrilled grapefruit, chocolate glace, olive oil OR Selection of Artisanal Cheeses

This final course, the much awaited dessert, was a great ending to an incredible meal. It wasn’t too heavy (though I wouldn’t have turned down chocolate) and finished off the tasting pefectly. There were several small slices of mini zucchini cake, which sat atop a gelee of grilled grapefruit. Topping off the cake was a small scoop of chocolate glace. I loved the flavor combination of the cake and the glace, but was not a huge fan of the grapefruit. The texture was amazing, but the bitterness often took away from the sweetness of the rest of the dish. Just too bitter in my book.

One friend got the cheese plate and it was quite impessive. Too much to eat. I would say there were at least 4 large peices of cheese on the plate (more than 1 oz each, probably more like 2-3 oz). There was a blue cheese, a hard cheese, a goat cheese and a softer cheese. The server selected them for him and he was very happy with them all.

There’s really not much else to say. It was an EXCEPTIONAL meal and service was beyond fantastic. If you love food and have the opportunity, you must go to No. 9 for the tasting menu. Add it to your “things to do before I die” list. Trust me.

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