Saturday, March 15, 2008

Boston Restaurant Week: Review

According to its website, Anthony's Pier 4 is "an exceptional dining experience". In fact, it boasts: "Anthony's Pier 4 offers fine food prepared to Anthony's exacting standards, an award winning wine list, superb service, and a spectacular view of the city overlooking historic Boston Harbor." Perhaps it's because the restaurant was supposed to be fantastic-so old school classy, not trendy and a little pretencions-that it turned out to be one let down after another.

Upon entering, Anthony's spacious dining room offered just enough of a nautical feel to make us excited for what was to come. The view is indeed spectacular and on this crystal clear day the room was flooded with natural light. The waitstaff was attentive and quirky but not that "I'm your quirky waiter and I think I'm charming enough to get a 25% tip" kind of way. Instead, they were friendly, well mannered and extremely knowledgeable about the menu.

Ah, the menu. Here is where the problems begin. Anthony's prix fix 3 course dinner menu includes:

Anthony’s Famous Lobster Bisque
New England Clam Chowder
Baby Maine Shrimp Salad
Ragout of Wild Striped Bass
Petit Filet Mignon Au Poivre
Sautéed Chicken Normande
Limoncello Tartufo with raspberry sauce
Chocolate Rum Mousse with raspberry cream
Apple Brown Betty with vanilla bean ice cream

To begin, the Shrimp Salad was not on the menu. The only choices we had were the bisque and chowder, which turned out to be okay because when a dish has the word "Famous" in its name, naturally you want to try it.

Bad move.

The "famous" lobster bisque was a pretty color. There. I had to start with a positive-now let me tell you why it was horrible. Aside from the fact that it was entirely too thick-and I love a thick bisque-it was like eating a salt lick. Perhaps the chef had a rough morning or the garde manger dropped the box of salt by accident-but whatever the case, it was disgusting. In addition, there was hardly any lobster in it at all. This bisque is famous alright-for being the saltiest soup this side of the Charles.

For the main course the table was split between the Petit Filet and the Chicken Normande. Though both dishes were eatable, no one sat back in their chair after the first bite professing their everlasting love to the chef. (Don't laugh, I've seen it happen.) The Petit Filet was paired with fingerling potatoes that resembled shriveled fingers...not the most appetizing thing in the word to see. The chicken Normande was tasty but over sauced which some would say "counterbalanced" the so called buttered noodles that accompanied it. They were dry and unseasoned though it wasn't completely surprising because I already knew that the chef used all of the salt in the bisque. Also, it wasn't sauteed and it wasn't a boneless breast as it stated on the menu.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment was the dessert. Why? Because everyone always leaves a little room for dessert and by the end of that meal, we were hoping to find the silver lining. Instead, what we found were severely overcooked apples (it was hard to even tell if they were fresh or not) swimming in an overly sweet gel. The topping however was tasty and when eaten with the (no doubt store bought) vanilla bean ice cream, we could at least pretend we were eating something good.

There were 2 somewhat pleasant surprises in our meal, however. The unexpected salad that was served after our soup and the piping hot popovers that were plunked on our plates directly after the salad hit the table. Of course, the salad dressing (Caesar) was runny and tasteless but with a freshly baked popover drenched in salty butter-almost any salad would get a pass.

Anthony's Pier 4 may be a piece of Boston's history, but if this restaurant wants to also be part of Boston's future, they'd better find a new chef. Rating: 2 out of 5 stars...hey, they have free parking.

Anthony's Pier 4 is located at 140 Northern Avenue in Boston 617-482-6262

As seen on


Mo said...

How can Caesar dressing be tasteless?

Remind me not to ask to go here when I visit Boston.

Maybe Nimma from Top Chef was makin' the bisque???

Danielle A. said...

I think it's absolutely awesome that you did not like Anthony's Pier 4. I don't know why exactly. Maybe because it's cool to see someone who wasn't born and raised in Boston not buying into the hype surrounding the joint.