This past Monday night, I had plans to attend the Boston Magazine Best of Boston Dining Party. It was happening really close to the shop and was easy enough for me to make a quick visit. Who am I to say no to free drinks and food?
Actually, as I've gotten older, I've gotten less enamored with such events. A lot of times, the drinks are horrible, the food is mediocre and sparse. The crowd doesn't seem very interesting. Mostly moochers and "style writers" of Boston who all think a little too highly of their selves and their opinions. Not really my scene.
So as I was waiting for Elizabeth to arrive so we could go to this shin dig, I started to think more and more about how I really didn't want to go. What I wanted was a quiet evening with the woman I love. E arrived and was cranky about having to get thru all the Red Sox traffic to get to me. So our fate was decided. Bail on the party and find a nice, quiet place for dinner together.
We headed off to the South End and decided to try out Sage. Elizabeth's friend D.. from Brix had given her the recommendation and said it as his favorite gnocchi in town. That was absolutely worth seeking out!
To our delight, most of the restaurants in the South End on a Monday were ghost towns. We really could have had our pick of any of the places that are typically hard to get into. But Sage was our destination.
We arrived and it was very, very quiet. We both quickly noticed that Sage didn't look all that different from Umbra, the restaurant that was in the space before it became Sage. I didn't mind the lack of decor change because I always liked the space plus it had cork floors which E was delighted to discover when she walked acrossed the dining room in search of the bathroom We decided to sit at the bar and let Vanessa take care of us.
I had had a fairly tough day and was ready for a nice cocktail. I would have loved an Eastern Standard Boxcar but alas. However, Vanessa was game for trying to make one for me. It was a fine attempt and one I very much appreciated. However the vodka tonic I ordered later was a bit better. I did notice that they had Hangar One vodka and that got me really excited. Very few place in this city carry Hangar One and I'm a big fan. Usually I take it as a good sign if such a thing is sitting on the bar. E has a different test...a specific brand of cognac that she loves.
We placed our order and bread with an odd little tomato, olive oil mix came with it. It resembled and tasted like gazpacho but I think it was meant to used with the bread. The bread was standard issue Italian focaccia, which I happen to love, and so I thought the bread was great on its own. No odd gazpacho needed.
E ordered us a cured meat, pickled veg and cheese appetizer to start. The cheese included was only a parm reggiano and E wanted to swap it for an interesting sounding asiago. The cheese sub didn't happen and we didn't want to cause a problem so we ate the cheese that arrived. But Vanessa went and got us a little slice of the Asiago to try. It was lovely. I liked the starte quite a bit. But I found the pickled eggplant to be the most compelling part of the dish. I think the eggplant hadn't been cooked. It was thinly sliced and picked. Since I love all things pickled, I loved the eggplant. It was a nice way to begin.
I ordered two appetizers as my main. I got the duck confit panino and a mixed greens with blue cheese salad. The duck was indeed appetizer size, but it was quite good. The bread was very buttery and golden and the duck was pretty plentiful in those tiny little triangles of bread. It also came with a watercress and pear salad, so I had plenty of roughage that evening.
E's gnocchi with rabbit came and it was amazing! It was everything a gnocchi has to be. Tender, light as air and fluffy. She was kinda enough to give me a bite and I instantly wished I had ordered the gnocchi.
We ate with us pretty much being the only people at the bar. It was a lovely way to dine. We had a competent and attentive bartender, the game on the TV and each other....Oh, and the gnocchi. It was perfect.
And considering my crappy Boston dining experiences, it was just what I needed. Sage very well might become our date place. So if you ever want to see us, stop by Sage on a Monday night, you'll probably spot us there :)