There are plenty of mentions of Bar Mezzana in lists of restaurants but I see no report on it so I will start the report thread.
An out-of-town friend who is here once or twice a month for business and I had dinner there last night. One night, one meal but we were decidedly underwhelmed.
From the crudo menu we ordered the yellowtail with grapefruit oil and fresno chili. From the appetizer menu we ordered braised leek crostini with radish and anchovy and the beef tartare with mushroom vinaigrette with gouda and cress (because neither of us can ever resist beef tartare). So they all arrive at once and there is not enough room on the able for everything (seriously, folks, you know how big your tables are, why would you possibly send everything out at once when it cannot actually all be put down?). Leaving aside the very real space issue (which was solved by sending back the bread basket and dish of olive oil untasted), I would have preferred to have some time to enjoy the delicate fish without the crostini going soft.
That crudo – the 4 slices of yellowtail were very fresh, nicely cut and of a decent size and beautifully plated but they just did not play with their accompaniments at all. Like when you put a piece of sashimi in your mouth at Cafe Sushi and the accompaniments sort of amplify the fish and everything goes ping! in your mouth. Yeah, that did not happen, it was more like, why are all these chilis drowning out the delicate fish and what is grapefruit doing there?
The crostini were nice but the leeks basically non-existent. I think they had been braised into complete submission and kind of melted into the toasted bread, then covered in a giant pile of tiny julienned radish slices and each of the 4 slices crowned with a tasty anchovy. Not terrible but if you are going to sell me a braised leek crostini I want the leeks to star.
The beef tartare was pretty forgettable. It was basically a mound of very cold ground beef (like a hunk of raw burger), crowned with wild mushrooms, shavings of gouda and cress. The beef was not particularly seasoned and just not that great. One of our least favorite versions we have tried.
Our main course, rack of lamb with braised escarole and white beans, was really delicious and plenty for the two of us accompanied by a side of nicely charred broccoli rabe which I enjoyed more than my friend did.
We ended with a single scoop of grapefruit campari sorbetto and that was delicious – great flavor, texture and mouthfeel. Even this confirmed non-dessert eater thoroughly enjoyed it.
So then we played the game of where this fits on our lists of Boston restuarants. SRV remains top of our list. Chickadee ranks above Bar Mezzana, as does Cultivar (at least for the food; noise is a separate issue). Eastern Standard, that old reliable, also beats Bar Mezzana for us – they have our second most favorite beef tartare among other things. We are overdue for a return to Coppa but I am pretty sure that outranks Bar Mazzana for us as well.
FOH staff were all delightful. It is a very “see and be seen” sceney type of vibe.
I doubt we’ll be back but a different friend’s son the chef is a huge fan and might be able to talk me into it. First, I am taking him to Cafe Sushi though…