We visited Sel de la Terre in Natick back in June to celebrate a friend's graduation. While we thought the food was pretty good for the suburbs, we were not that impressed over all. However, we had heard that the Boston location was better. Furthermore, Will Gilson from Garden at the Cellar told me it was one of the places he likes to frequent.
So, since we were doing some Black Friday shopping in the neighborhood, we decided to check it out. We both were intrigued by the value of the prix fixe, which offered a two-course lunch for only $14.
Course 1: Tuna tartine on crostini and a mixed green salad
The tuna tartine (i.e. tuna salad) was enjoyable. The flavors were decent, though nothing particularly exciting. The mixed green salad, on the other hand, was rather over-salted. I was a little disappointed.
Course 2: Duck Confit risotto
The duck confit risotto was pretty good. There was some sort of wine reduction on the side that gave the risotto a nice deep flavor. The parsley that decorated the dish also gave a pungent kick to the creamy, cheesy rice dish. Over all it was solid, and a pretty good value, price-wise.
But you know what was the most enjoyable dish?
Along with the truffle fries at Garden at the Cellar and the rosemary fries at Sorrelina, these are amongst the top fries available in Boston, at least in our humble opinion. Texture-wise, they were almost identical to the ones at Sorellina. Narrow cut fries that were airy, light and crispy on the outside yet moist and potato-ey on the inside. Some fries near the top were slightly over-salted, but not too badly. I still ate most of them! And the ones at the bottom were fine.
Over all, I think it's still premature for me to gauge this restaurant based on one prix fixe menu and a basket of fries. So far, I think it's only OK, but I do think I need to come back and at least try the dinner menu before really giving an over all assessment.
For now, I think the lunch menu is rather reasonable, with all sandwiches under $10 and most main entrees $15-$16. If I come again, I'll try something other than the prix fixe just to get an idea of what some of the more expensive meals taste like. I remember trying the cheapest "Neighborhood Menu" at Craigie Street Bistrot years back and not being wow-ed the first time I went. It wasn't until I tried the Chef's Tasting Menu that I realized how amazing a cook Tony Maws really is.
As a general rule, it's true. You get what you pay for. 🙂 Don't order the budget menu if you want to see a chef at the top of his or her game.
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