Brasserie 28 calls upon fresh, local ingredients to inspire their dynamic dinner menu of European-spun sustenance. Practice your dish-passing skills during the Thanksgiving off-season by sharing tasty offerings with your table, such as warm, aged cheddar cheese fondue served with a toasted baguette ($12) and local Wellfleet oysters with pickled black radish, spicy Bloody Mary, and celery sprouts ($8). Move into the meat of a meal with specialty entrees such as the juicy duBreton farm pork chop paired with french lentils, root vegetable, and wilted swiss chard ($24). To upgrade childhood memories, try the snickers dessert, a grown-up pairing of dark chocolate, peanut-butter mousse, caramel nougetine, and a dash of fleur de sel ($8). A three-course prix fixe menu is available Thursday, Friday, and Saturday during Valentine's Day weekend, ensuring that every forkful is introduced to your sweetheart’s mouth while it's smiling ($39 per person).
The French-Asian duality of AKA Bistro is practically embedded in its founders? DNA. Christian Touche made his way behind the scenes of upscale restaurants in France and Switzerland when still a teenager. His Honolulu-born business partner, Executive Chef Chris Chung, grew up in the rich culinary climate of Macao?a former Portuguese colony on the coast of China?before returning to Hawaii to study sushi.
Touche's and Chung?s paths converged thanks to Boston dining superstar Kenneth Oringer?Touche was working at Clio and Chung was working at Uni when the two met. At AKA Bistro, they?ve transported the upscale ingredients and techniques of both establishments to a less-formal dining space that?s a study in openness, with plentiful windows channeling light onto long tables and comfy booths. The dining room opens onto the kitchen, where guests might catch a glimpse of chefs drawing out flavor and color from sashimi plates of tuna, salmon, and lobster by glazing them with aromatic sauces and topping them with seasonal accents such as compressed Asian pear or black garlic vinaigrette. ?There?s plenty of imagination, but Chung knows when to back off and let the fish?s flavor come through,? Boston magazine remarked of the Japanese side of the menu.
The sounds of sizzling might herald French courses such as hand-cut beef tartare or escargots served with bacon and an herb-tinged butter jus. And like the preceding courses, desserts change nightly and display a careful orchestration of color and flavor. In the strawberry-rhubarb genoise with cr?me fra?che, for instance, bits of red fruit pop against the garnish of a single violet petal. The fusion of warm and cool continues even off the plate: a patio welcomes guests to dine outdoors much of the year, thanks to heat lamps and rainclouds? aversion to ruining a good plate of steak frites.
To say The Elephant Walk's co-founder Kenthao de Monteiro had an extremely exciting life before opening up the eatery is putting it a bit mildly. The French-educated politician was once an important diplomat in Cambodia, working as the minister of education and vice president of the Cambodian National Assembly and then serving as the Cambodian ambassador to Taiwan.
According to the New York Times, he was working as the ambassador when the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh in 1975. He and his wife, Longteine de Monteiro, lost everything and spent the ensuing years in Taiwan and France, where they opened a restaurant that displayed Longteine's cooking skills. They eventually made their way over to America in the early '90s and opened another restaurant, The Elephant Walk.
The Elephant Walk now serves up traditional Cambodian entrees, such as the cubed beef tenderloin in black-pepper sauce and lemongrass chicken breast, as well as classic French dishes, such as steak in red-wine beef jus. The menu also caters to vegans, vegetarians, and those with gluten allergies. For those who want to learn how to re-create the dishes at home to impress family, friends, and judgmental cats, The Elephant Walk offers cooking classes led by Longteine, her daughter, Nadsa, and French chef G?rard Lopez.
Leaning on more than 35 years of experience championing French cuisine, Sandrine's Bistro's co-owner and chef, Raymond Ost, brings the same blend of classic and contemporary flavors to Cambridge that earned him knighthood from the French government. According to the Boston Globe, Chef Ost began his culinary career at 13 with an apprenticeship in Alsace, France. Today, many of Sandrine's menu items hail from and are inspired by the region, such as traditional tarte flambées made with crispy flatbread and nutmeg-scented fromage blanc. A fireplace flickers off the zinc bar where mixologists craft specialty cocktails, pour wine, and blend liquors from an extensive bar menu. The decor is elegant, with white-draped tables popping against deep-burgundy pillars and sage walls. Chandelier light enlivens an avant-garde mirror divided into geometric shapes, and sumptuous draperies remind diners to pick their togas up from the dry cleaner.
Inside Chez Henri, owner and chef Paul O’Connell draws on his training at Johnson & Wales University to add Caribbean flourishes to classic French fare, earning his restaurant press accolades and seven Best of Boston awards. Appetizers include braised wild-boar sausage served over cabbage escabeche, and the pan-seared flounder entree arrives with house-made chorizo and West Indian spices. Wash down international flavors with signature cocktails and spirits or a pitcher of fruity sangria from the full bar.
Inside Chez Henri’s simply decorated dining room, handblown glass lighting illuminates warmly colored walls, and huge windows proffer views of the bustling streets between Harvard and Porter Squares. Paul and his staff also transport their delicate fare to catered events of up to 400 people, such as weddings, graduations, or the shared birthday of an NFL team made by cloning Joe Montana.