Gail, Noele and I just got back from Tryst in Arlington. It's restaurant week in Boston. Area restaurants offer a three course, prix fixe menu for $33.11. It's an opportunity to try better restaurants for less money. We always have a good meal. Sometimes, like tonight, we have a great meal.
Unfortunately, restaurants often skimp on their offerings because of the lower prices. They make the portions smaller and don't put the same care into the ingredients and preparation. And the wait staff sometimes don't do as good a job, turning tables over faster to compensate for the lower per-check tip potential. It's a shame really, because they miss the opportunity to build a new customer base. Note that I'm writing one blog entry, but we've been to four restaurants this week.
Tryst put their best foot forward, and won new fans. First, the portions seemed almost bigger than normal. I have a nice lunch for tomorrow. When we go to a nice place, we look for food that we say "pops." None of the other three restaurants had anything that popped. We had four items between us that popped at Tryst, and everything else we ate was better than normal.
Pop 1: Shrimp Tacos - avocado, red onion and Aji crema. This appetizer had deep-fried shrimp on a bed of guacamole topped with tiny fried vegetable strings. The coating was like a fine panko, and the shrimp was lightly cooked to be tender and juicy. The guacamole was fresh and spiced with a cumin-like savoriness.
Pop 2: Corn Agnolotti - sage, mascarpone, toasted corn and pea greens. This was served in hand-made pasta ravioli. The toasted corn made each bite taste like a creamy bowl of smokey chowder.
Pop 3: Pig Under a Brick - white corn polenta, mostarda, collard greens and apricot glaze. Mostarda is candied fruit in a mustard sauce that was wonderful on its own, and perfectly topped the pressed pulled pork. Pressing the pork made two textures. The body was moist and the top was crispy like cracklins.
Pop 4: Brown Sugar Tart - Ward's Farm peaches and butter pecan ice cream. The ice cream melted onto the warm, hand formed fruit tart and mixed with the brown sugar and peach juice. The flaky crust lifted the meltings and gushed them into our mouths.
There are two more nights of restaurant week, but if you miss it, go for the regular menu at Tryst.