The Federalist: Stuffing Myself in the Name of Love
This past weekend was our first wedding anniversary, and so we returned to the "scene of the crime" by spending a weekend in Boston.
The highlight of our trip was to be an evening at The Federalist, the award-winning restaurant inside XV Beacon, a very hip hotel on the edge of Beacon Hill. When we were thinking which restaurant would be the best for our celebration, we picked The Federalist both because of incredible reviews from critics and aquaintances alike, as well as the fabled rooftop herb garden, where the chef, David Daniels, grows herbs for use in his kitchen. Of course, the wine cellar and incredible wine list also didn't hurt; and with their seemingly endless selection of California wines, we thought we could relive our honeymoon, which was taken touring the beautiful Napa and Sonoma winemaking regions.
We were seated at a table in a great spot in the dining room, which is appropriately lit, minimally decorated and beautifully set with fine linens and silver. Our server introduced himself, presented the menu and wine list and congratulated us on our anniversary. (Chalk one up for Steve, who clearly called ahead to be sure we got the best treatment!)
We quickly decided on the tasting menu, and they were extremely accommodating when Steve asked that the seafood selection be changed due to his allergies. Nothing would say "happy anniversary" like a visit to the ER, right??
The tasting menu -- course by wonderful course:
Fois gras with duck confit, topped with frisee: This was gross. I just don't like duck. Fortunately, the portion was small enough that just a taste made it look like I really dug in; and it did not sway me from believing this meal would be among the finest in memory... and The Federalist didn't disappoint.
Heirloom tomato salad with "rooftop basil" and marscapone: Tomato salad. Big deal, right? Wrong. This was beautiful, fresh and delightful. The chunks of heirlooms were room temperature and firm, not cold and runny like many restaurant tomato salads. The marscapone was sweet and creamy, and the "rooftop basil", called so because I suppose it's from that herb garden I spoke of, was almost minty, and actually a bit crunchy. I tried to identify the heirlooms based on the lessons at the Heirloom Tomato Festival I attended at the Hoboken Historical Museum, but I couldn't. And it didn't matter anyway. These were delicious. And they paired wonderfully with an Alsacian Pinot Gris, which was very crisp and refreshing.
The next course could have been my last meal and I would have died a happy woman. It was
Baked Rigatoni and Cheeses. Each individual rigatoni was stuffed with gouda, and then the small pile was sprinkled with shredded gruyere and a dollop of melted chevre. It was "dressed" with a sweet corn emulsion that brought a sweetness to the dish. A lovely Napa Chardonnay was paired with this dish, and it did cut the creaminess of the food well.
The fourth course involved scallops, sitting upon a drizzle of something I could not identify. But whatever it was, it was green and it was good! For Steve, they substituted a roasted duck dish... and thank goodness it was him and not me. We were both served a Pinot Noir that was lovely, and our server explained that many guests found the pairing of the seafood with a "red wine" surprising. But it was very tasty, and I suppose the Pinot Noir was gentle enough to not overwhelm the delicate scallops.
The fifth course was the "main course", and it was a "duo" of ribeye steak and braised shortribs. Both were excellent, and very well-paired with a glass of rich, almost chocolatey Cabernet. The steak was perfectly cooked and coated with peppercorns, while the short rib was soft and juicy. Steve, the more carnivorous of our marriage, was in heaven with this dish. It also sat on a small "smear" of potato puree, and then a tiny potato croquette. The dish was decorated with an "argula paint" which was pretty and interesting.
The dessert was a molten chocolate cake with hazelnut ice cream and raspberry sauce. Delish! It was served with port, which I had a few sips of, but couldn't finish.
We finished off the night with a toast to our anniversary -- a couple classes of Veuve Clicquot "Gold Label" -- and a walk around Beacon Hill. Note to the ladies: stilettos and cobblestones don't mix.
Anyway... if you are in Boston and are celebrating a special occasion, The Federalist is a memorable meal... impeccable service, elegant atmosphere, classic food with inventive twists, and perfectly paired wines. Hooray!