Pineapple Ginger Cooler
“Summer Basket” and Orange-Olive Grissini
MENTON BUTTER SOUP – shellfish, caviar, honey
Warm Croissant – Single Cow Butter and Sea Salt
ARTICHOKE – smoked sturgeon, potato en croûte, chicharrón
Sesame-Miso Bread, Beer Pretzel, Baguette, Whole Wheat Roll, Tomato Rosemary
HALIBUT – bok choy, jonah crab, lovage
BIGOLI – burrata, rosemary, bottarga
TART OF FOIE GRAS – corn, blueberry, lobster
QUAIL – almond, buttermilk, cippolini
CORNMEAL POUND CAKE – lemon, blackberry, buttermilk
PEACH CHIBOUST – almond, rooibos, orange
Mignardises and Mini-Macarons
Owned and operated by Barbara Lynch, the matriarch of Boston’s dining scene with restaurants including No. 9 Park and Sportello having impressed on a past trip to New England, it was to the Beard Award winning restaurateur’s Relais & Chateaux rated Menton that I turned for Friday evening, the “From Elements” tasting impressive at almost every turn with the addition of two supplements.
Opened in 2010 but falling by the wayside during a 2011 vacation compromised by tragedy, Menton has remained strongly supported despite early thoughts that fine dining would be a difficult sell in the modern dining economy, and although having changed its format in order to accommodate both tasting, bar and a la carte options there is little doubt that the restaurant remains the crown gem of an empire and one of the most respected restaurants in its price-range north of New York City.
Described as French-Italian hybrid cuisine, though certainly not like French Riviera cuisine popularized by Ducasse in various venues, Menton finds itself housed in an upstairs space on Congress Street where elegant decoration and slick surfaces welcome diners of all sorts beneath track-lighted ceilings.
Expectedly offering formal service, though the Captains all seem quite charming and never shy to offer their thoughts, patrons are invited to choose between individual plates or a tasting composed from the “From Elements” section, or to instead dive right into the chef’s nightly degustation entitled “Into Evolution.”
Eventually opting for the shorter tasting due to two a la carte items deemed too good to forgo, an alcohol-free Pineapple Ginger Cooler proved a pleasantly refreshing way to cleanse the palate between courses while amuses described as a “Summer Basket” and Orange-Olive Grissini provided a one-two punch of bitter and briny that quickly revved the anticipation.
Serving individual breads throughout the meal, a warm croissant the only item not offered in the basket far and away the best, Butter from a single cow in Vermont named Babette will undoubtedly find itself slathered on Baguettes, Pretzels or Rolls until every bite is eaten, Lynch’s famous “Butter Soup” absolutely worthy the praise heaped upon it as a honey-sweetened version of same ingredient is used to compliment Caviar and poached Shellfish.
Progressing gently from soup to “salad,” the tender Artichoke Hearts smartly paired to crispy Potato cubes, Sturgeon Cream and Cracklins’, Halibut was a bit too predictable save for the Crab stuffed Bok Choy, though the meaty texture of the fish showed a very skilled hand in both its sourcing and treatment.
Known for her hand with pasta, the gnocchi at No 9. Park one of the city’s most revered dishes, a plate of Bigoli showed tender noodles served as a sort of nest beneath fresh Cheese, Rosemary and Bottarga shavings, the addition of a Foie Gras Tart standing out as one of the most elegantly composed dishes of 2016 with the tender liver perched atop a pie shell filled with Lobster, Corn, Maple Syrup and Blueberries.
Taking an almost ‘rustic’ approach to Quail by lightly pan searing the split bird with Breadcrumbs and plating it with cracked Almonds, Nut Butter, and fried Cippolini Onions it was in declining Cheese that a duo of desserts was presented, the supplemented Cornmeal Cake falling a bit short in terms of taste or presentation while the cylindrical Peach Chiboust was not only more beautiful to look at but also a creamy, light and fragrant way to finish a very impressive meal.