March 28th, 2010

Delfino, Roslindale

We actually had this meal before I even left for Nationals, but I never got around to writing it up. As it is on my Places to Try in 2010, I thought I should jot down what I do remember of it.

 

We went with Bri and Nicole. We picked Delfino, as my co-worker Deirdre has been raving about it for ages and it is near Nicole’s. We started with the grilled and marinated vegetable antipasto with cheeses and prosciutto, and an arugula salad with pears. The antipasto was a hit; it has delicious grilled mushrooms and a nice assortment of veggies and cheese. I thought the salad had a nice flavor contrast between the pepperiness of the arugula and the sweetness of the pear, but alas, it was overdressed. As I write this, I realize that all salads seem overdressed to me, maybe it’s a personal bias, and you should take all my salad musings with a grain of salt.

 

Bri had the linguine with mixed seafood in a red sauce. I felt pain as he dumped 2 full bowls of grated cheese on his dish. Doesn’t he know it is taboo to mix cheese and seafood? Scott Conant is having a conniption somewhere. Nicole’s Bolognese was fine, but the noodles were too thick and unwieldy. Sweet Basil, you are still king.  R’s veal parm was tender and tasty, a runner up only to my open faced lobster ravioli. There was nothing resembling ravioli, but the mélange of thick noodles, lobster, shrimp, scallops and cream sauce was delicious.

 

Dessert was a disaster. We ordered a warm chocolate bread pudding that appeared as a soggy, dense, chewy mass of barely chocolate dough. It may win for worse dessert of the year, and it’s only March. The awfulness of the “bread pudding” made the crème burlee seem good in comparison, but it was pedestrian and mundane.

 

We walked to nearby Geoffrey’s to get a cupcake afterwards. I liked the thick, luscious chocolate frosting, but the cake was nothing special.

Shabu Zen, Boston

There is a class of restaurants, where the food is also the entertainment. Let’s call them “interactive” restaurants. They ran the gamut from dinner theater to cooking your own food. Shabu shabu, Japanese hot pot falls in to the latter category. Shabu Zen is located in the heart of Chinatown. There are only a few tables, the majority of the restaurant is bar/counter style. Each diner gets an individual cauldron of broth and you order proteins to cook in the broth. R and I went with the standard pork broth, but there are different broths you can get for an additional charge. We ordered beef and pork, as well as the seafood supreme (scallops, prawn, salmon, cod, squid, clam, and fish cake). Everything comes raw and thickly sliced. The meal also includes a vegetable platter with napa cabbage, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots and daikon, as well as stuff to make your own dipping sauces (soy, garlic, scallion, peppers). The whole idea is you swish the protein in the hot broth till cooked (the thinly slice meats took seconds) and in to the dipping sauce and then in to your mouth.

 

I found this amusing for about 10 minutes and then I realized I was just paying to cook my own dinner, which is something I can do at home for free. I found everything underseasoned, as the soy sauce quickly got diluted with the broth. The meats were neither particularly tender nor flavorful. The seafood fared better, but R did not cook a clam enough and had to spit it out. He proclaimed that “this is a law suit waiting to happen – raw foods, including chicken and bubbling hot broth. They are asking for illness or injury.” We did have a friendly server who was happy to explain the whole process to us, and we enjoyed our mango and banana smoothies.

 

So, shabu shabu may be a good activity with kids (bubbling hot broth aside) or a large crowd where the focus is hanging out and not the food, otherwise stay home and cook your own food.

 

http://www.shabuzen.com/