With 18 additions debuting at Dine Out Boston, this year's prix fixe menu promo promises to be a showcase of what to try next. Running Sunday to Friday, March 6-11 and 13-18, Dine Out challenges chefs to create multi-course menus at three pricing tiers for lunch ($15, $20, $25) and/or dinner ($28, $33, $38). That’s quite a budgeting task for the discerning cook. We spoke to three chefs bringing their new restaurants into this year’s Dine Out, who aren’t dumbing down dishes to fit the price. Instead, they’re cooking to impress.
Opened last fall in The Envoy Hotel on Northern Boulevard, Outlook Kitchen and Bar’s Dine Out debut includes a two-course lunch and three-course dinner ($20, $38).
“I don’t change the menu to fit a price structure. I don’t want to take from the integrity of the dishes by using cheaper ingredients,” says Chef David Verdo, who took part in Dine Out at his previous restaurant, the suburban hidden gem Chopps in Burlington. With a dinner menu that embellishes cod loin with a ginger-shiitake broth, and Aspen Ridge flat iron steak with New England hedgehog mushrooms and first of the season pea shoots, bright flavors are brought to life: “With spring just around the corner, I wanted to create light, aromatic dishes,” he adds.
At Sfizi in the North End, Chef Gianni Caruso is discounting most of the regular classic Italian and Pan Mediterranean inspired menu for a three-course dinner ($33):“Popular homemade dishes is what we’re about. We’ll embrace our Italian roots and include a selection of dishes that shows who we are.”
Those include zucchini blossoms stuffed with truffled mozzarella, angel hair pasta with seafood, New England swordfish with sweet potato puree and smoked shrimp, and a luscious tiramisu. “We don’t look at cost for this, so this is very good value,” Caruso explains. “This is an opportunity for sharing our menu with people who don’t know Sfizi. We want people to fall in love with our restaurant and come back again, and share with friends.”
Chef Tom Borgia’s Dine Out menu for FiDi's new State Street Provisions keeps it simple: a two-course appetizer and entrée dinner menu ($28) with the option of beer or wine pairing ($12). The sweet toothed can choose from the regular menu’s ample selection.
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Borgia also worked season forward with a spring vegetable minestrone, and beet tagliatelle with shaved asparagus, roasted oyster mushrooms, and mascarpone. “Spring is the most difficult season because it’s the shortest and everyone tries to hit that window when fava beans, young asparagus, morels, and ramps are at their best,” says Borgia, a Dine Out veteran from his tenure at sister restaurant Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square.
“It’s hard to be cost effective at these prices, so I say to hell with it. It’s more important for me to work within the restaurant’s framework of being seasonal and local, and celebrate New England.”
For more information on Dine Out Boston: bostonusa.com/visit/dineoutboston