September 28th, 2010

Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale, Boston

There was a lot of buzz about Stoddard’s a year and a half before it even opened. It is situated in a historic Boston building built in 1848. They did a nice job with the renovation: huge antique bar, tin ceilings and lots of wood work. Unfortunately, the ambiance did not match the dining experience.


My first complaint is about the wait. We arrived early for our 8pm reservation, but were told that it would be just 10 minutes. 40 minutes later, we were told it would be another 5 minutes. We were finally seated and the service did not improve; our waitress forgot about our drinks, and needed to be flagged down several times during the evening.


I would like to say that the food was an improvement over the service, but alas it was also a disappointment. We started with the lobster scallion hush puppies. There was a distinct lack of lobster flavor, but the exterior was well fried and appropriately crisp. I liked the side of house cured pickles, they were sweet and crunchy. They reminded me of the cucumber pickles my mother used to make when I was young. The bread basket consisted of sourdough rolls, which is my least favorite bread.


Sadly, they were out of the Duo of heritage pork that the Phoenix review raved about, so instead we had the halibut and the duck. All I can say is that someone in the kitchen has a sweet tooth. The halibut was overcooked for me (probably fine for everyone else, including Steve) and served with cauliflower florets, currants and a sweet sauce. The duck was on the rare side (fine for me, probably undercooked for everyone else, including Steve) and the skin was flaccid. The accompanying grit cake was studded with corn kernels and was astoundingly sweet, and not in a good way. Although the side of onion rings were made with thick, sweet rings of onion, the exterior was pale and soggy. It was a dismal showing. We decided to forgo dessert – there has already been enough sugar in the meal and it would have taken our waitress an additional hour to get it to us.


Stoddard’s is known for their drinks and at least they did not let us down in this respect. Steve enjoyed both his beer and wine and I quite liked my cocktail.


I suppose if you are downtown, it might be an okay place to stop for a drink, if it’s convenient to wherever you are moving on to for dinner.


Food: B-

Service: C

Value: B-

Overall: C+