France has graciously loaned three things to America: flag colors, Gerard Depardieu, and the cuisine behind today’s Groupon. For $20, you’ll get $50 worth of contemporary French cuisine at North End’s Sensing Restaurant. The literal brainchild of famed French chef Guy Martin—no, you may not call him "French Guy" for short—this modestly upscale establishment brings Paris to the Fairmont Battery Wharf via authentic cuisine, fine wines, and words with a silent but deadly x. The restaurant recently received AAA’s prestigious Four-Diamond rating, so feast with the confidence of a hypocrite lecturer, mon semblable… mon frère!
Your dining experience kicks off with a complimentary basket of freshly baked rolls, which can hold their dough as well as any of their croissant or baguette brethren, and may or may not come with tiny scrolls of instructions from La Resistance. Lunchtime offerings include fight bites, sandwiches, and more involved entrees. Following the French tradition, lunch is only served on weekdays from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, so plan lunch dates accordingly. On the lighter side, grab a red baby leaf salad with autumn herbs and candied pumpkin seeds ($9) or prosciutto toast with tomato dip and artisanal loaf ($10). Sandwiches range from the meatless vegetarian club sandwich with crushed tomatoes and grilled vegetables ($11) to the meaty Sensing lobster roll (toasted brioche, pear and lobster mayonnaise, $16). More filling options, like steak frites with a fall salad ($18), accommodate the hungry Frenchman or Frenchwoman. If you’re only ready for halfway lunch, brunch is served from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm on the weekends.
A variety of appetizers comes with dinner, as well as dishes in the meat, fish and cheese categories. Sensing serves dinner every day from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Start with French delicacy foie gras (with banana bread, caramel, and almond; $16) to set the dinner dial to authenticity. For those with strong sea legs, try the Cod steamed in lemongrass with vegetables of the season ($26), among other seafood offerings. Landfood options include veal cheek ($28) and roasted venison loin ($36). Pair your meal with a selection from their impressive wine menu to complete your francogrification.
You can use one Groupon per four people or two Groupons with five or more—yet another enticing reason to be the fifth wheel on a double date.
AAA has given Sensing restaurant its four-diamond stamp of approval. Urbanspooners rated the restaurant a solid 85%, diners from Open Table gave it four stars, and Yelpers settled on three and a half stars:
- They consider their food "Modern French". We considered it wonderful. It was beautifully presented and "interesting" from a palate perspective. To cap off the experience, the wait staff were outstanding. My husband's meal was going to take a bit longer to cook than mine, so to keep us "busy" (!) they brought us each a bowl of complimentary soup... I highly recommend that you try this modern French gem nestled in the heart of Boston's Little Italy. – Open Table user who dined on 11/09/2009
- Dessert was fantastic, so make sure you save room. Not really a problem as portions are on the smaller side (another notable difference between the American appetite and the rest of the world). – Cheng S., Yelp
The French Motto and Why We Do It Better
When it comes to the authentic French fare at Sensing, nothing has been lost in the translation overseas. The same, however, may not be said for the French national motto, Liberté, égalité, fraternité, which also involves concepts that, though dear to the French, have been interpreted differently by America and Americans:
France: The ideal of liberty consists of being able to do anything that does not harm others.
USA: Liberty is used mostly to wear pajama pants outside.
France: The “equality” of the French motto refers to judicial equality.
USA: Under the law, everyone is equal except for famous people, the indigent, and falcons, who despite their intelligence, cannot be tried as people.
France: Meaning “brotherhood,” the French take their obligations to their neighbors seriously.
USA: In a quirk of translation, Americans love fraternities, but hate their neighbors.
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