Rafiki Bistro’s chef Jeff Burgess brings the culinary prowess he gleaned training in France, Italy, and New York to a new menu of Provençal country fare, using only fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Upon arrival, servers brandish fresh baguettes and a pureed chick pea dip, beckoning descending diners into the Prince Edward Island mussels’ fragrant lochs of white wine, charred spanish onion, and fresh jalapeño broth ($10). Shaved cheese and marinated tomatoes pepper a crispy eggplant starter ($11), priming palates for entrees that include seared scallops escorted by grapefruit salad and leeks melted by fire-breathing sous chefs ($22). Crafted by hand, gnocchi spheres ensconce tender dollops of goat cheese ($17), and red-currant sauce envelops a pan-seared duck breast fringed by potato croquet.
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.
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.
Praise doesn’t come easily from the restaurant tastemakers at Gayot. But, when faced with the delicate preparations of Pierrot Bistrot Francais, they not only awarded the restaurant a spot on their list of the Top 10 French Restaurants in Boston, but also praised the eatery as “a French bistro in the truest sense of the term.” Secluded from the exposed brick and coral tones of the dining room, chefs toil in the kitchen to bring that authenticity to dishes. From dry-aged beef sirloin to jumbo sea scallops and veal scaloppini, his locally sourced menu items find their mates in a large wine list.
Named after the face's smiling muscles, Les Zygomates—Boston magazine’s 2010 pick for Best Restaurant in the downtown/theater district neighborhoods—serves up French cuisine in authentic bistro ambiance inspired by its Parisian homeland. A skilled team of chefs and restaurateurs inspire joie de vivre on the eve of the new year with a three-course tasting menu that begins festivities with an elegant amuse-bouche and live jazz. For the first plate, diners have their pick of four options, including escargots en croute with a garlic-and-parsley butter or steak tartare with black truffle and a quail's egg purloined from a bewildered ostrich. After the intermezzo grapefruit sorbet refreshes taste buds, main plates present merrymakers with a quartet of choices. Chefs pan-sear scallops before trimming them in a Roman-style salsify with pernod and blood-orange gastrique or stuff guinea hens with a mix including dried fruits, brioche, sweet potato, and guinea-hen nesting dolls.