Crow Trys Swimming in Mare, Comes Out Wet.

crow

So, as many of you many know last week was the seconded week of Boston’s singularly named Restaurant Week.  This is a time of year where Bostonians flood our most popular restaurant in droves and Chefs cry for mercy while they drain the city of booze in the after hours.  Last year my man crow and I skipped out on the semiannual running of the hungries, but this fall restraint was too much to ask, especially after I saw that North End hot-spot, Mare, was on the list.

Now, let me start with a disclaimer.  I know that you are never supposed to judge a restaurant based on a restaurant week meal.  The kitchen is over burdened, the chefs are board with the dishes that have been created more from price points than true inspiration.  The waitsaff is tired from two weeks of insanity.  I understand this.  However, this is a restaurants time to shine- to show that despite the conditions they can do good, even great,  work  and therefore expose themselves to an all new and interested clientele.  During this time it is the duty of the restaurant to put out a meal delicious enough to temp us back to cough up the full price in future, more peaceful times.   Mare simply did not achieve this.

My expectations were high of Mare.  Since living in Boston I have often passed by their quaint North End location with its chique blue and glass exterior and gazed enviously at the dining patrons.  To me, at least, Mare always seemed like the best of the North End’s modern Italian, and it has prices that indicate it deserves such accolades.  I was thrilled to see it on the Restaurant week list, excited to finally try a place I had been curious about for so long.

The disappointment started almost immediately.  Mare is small and crowded within an inch of its life, but I can excuse that as being typically authentic of the North End.  What I couldn’t excuse were the televisions (Is this TJI Fridays?)  posted in all four corners of the dining room that continuously played a tacky DVD showing aerialviews of Italy’s most famous locations.  It was almost as cheesy as the green lighting that decorated the back wall.  What had looked so clean and sophisticated from the outside looked downright tawdry within.    The service in general was very good throughout the meal, but we were sat without a copy of the restaurant week menu and had to ask for it from our server.

If you’re interested, you can peep the menu here. Looks good, right?  The man crow and I stated with a glass of Pinot and a glass of Prosecco (both yummy) and for our first courses chose the Maine Peekyote Crab Poloette, lemon caper ailoi, and bitter green salad and the thin crust pizzetta di mare with assorted seafood, fresh tomatine and parsley.   The Poloette’s were certainly the best part of the meal- crunchy on the outside and sweet and warm on the inside, but the “bitter green salad” was more of a garnish.  The Pizzetta was boring , with a bland sauce and unattractive presentation.  The seafood was fresh and good, but would have benefited from more seasoning.  Between the two of us, we had no desire to finish more than half of it.

For entrees, I chose the grilled rainbow trout, charred leeks, funghi trifolatwith whole grain mustard and ManCrow had the hand rolled ricotta gnudi, wagyu beef bolognese with shaved parmigiano.  The presentation of my trout was terrible- just a whole grilled trout on a plate with a leek on top.  No sauce, no garnish.  I didn’t even realize it was supposed to have had a mustard vinaigrette on it until I looked back at the menu.  All together it was nothing more impressive than I could have cooked at home with a trout and olive oil.  The braised leek was probably the best part of the entire dish.  ManCrow’s fancy-sounding fare was basically very dry cheese gnocchi with bolognese.  It was a very small portion with the most basic of presentation: past+sauce in a bowl.  (Remind me again why I’m paying for this?)  He claimed the small portion was made up for by the fact they the ricotta gnudi’s were little gut bombs, and then he complained about a stomach ache for the rest of the night and into this morning.

For desert, we both choose from the very limited menu, the tiramisu panna cotta with chocolate  truffle, brandy caramel sauce and savoiardi crumb.   It was merely mediocore (although probably the best course of the meal), but in the future I would point out that the flavors of tiramisu doesn’t exactly pair well with brandy caramel.  Also- the “savoiardi crumb?”  Literally, a crumb.   We left, my curiosity about Mare thoroughly quenched.  Unlike it’s examplary neighbor, Terrimia, who we visited for restaurant week a couple of years ago and which was so fantastic we’ve visited several times since, I can’t imagine ever going back to Mare.   The meal was still drastically overpriced for what we got, and had we had been paying full price, I would have been furious.  This is one location this crow will be unlikely to fly to again.

Mare on Urbanspoon

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About Vbar

The Story of VBar

Told by Riane

Vanessa (VBar) Barton is a crow near and dear to my heart, although we often find her soaring the globe. Vanessa’s true passion is traveling; her most recent adventure brought her to India where she had been yearning to go for years. She will undoubtedly picks up a few tricks on her Indian adventure and always incorporates her cultural findings into her own culinary repertoire. I can’t help but draw the conclusion that this 'spice monster' developed her palette from her exotic adventures, I (and I know her boyfriend Mark has my back on this one) have definitely had to bring this heat crazed crow down a notch, after nearly catching my mouth on fire. But I have to say, I’ve gotten her back with another flavour; being a huge fan of mushrooms, I have forced VBar, on more than one occasion, to get past her inhibitions and eat whatever mushroom laden dish myself and the other crows have created. Well hats off to you Vanessa, who can now confidently say ‘I don’t mind mushrooms’ from her initial, ‘I hate mushrooms.’ On that same note, she’s the only vegetarian of the group but is slowly warming up to meats, given her sister crows’ influences. Proud’a you.

Her second passion is cooking which emanates with her Italian heritage. Her Sicilian roots are evident in her flair in the kitchen, often cooking up Italian classics including, but definitely not limited to: Homemade marinara, not to mention PASTA like her Sicilian Grandma used to make (which has been borrowed on more than one occasion), pumpkin risotto, tiramisu and even homemade limoncello! She’s a crafty crow, jarring her own sauces, tackling homemade booze and even growing her own kitchen herb garden. Always ready with open arms and a delicious cocktail, VBar is the Italian flair in our flock.

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