If there's one noticeable thing about Gem's menu, it's brevity -- there's a handful of entrees and only a slightly larger selection of appetizers.
Despite that, it's a hard choice. The preparations are each quite enticing. For fall, the menu, which debuted in April at the restaurant's opening, has added seasonal twists. Sup a warming soup that's a delicate shade of orange, like a spectacular but spare winter sunset. It's made with Long Island cheese pumpkins, rendered with cream to a smooth, satisfying liquid and finished with silky pumpkin seed oil, aromatic brown sage and crisp rye croutons.
A lightly grilled romaine accompanied by blackened sashimi tuna and spots of Caesar dressing is hearty winter salad that, as with any decent Caesar, is garnished with salty white anchovies. Another appetizer is a light, fluffy gnudi, a gnocchi-type pasta made with ricotta and a small amount of flour. The dish gets a big flavor boost from succulent hon shimeji mushrooms, and its creamy sauce has a hint of cognac and truffle oil.
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These join some already popular standards -- from light diced tuna and hamachi tartare tossed together with cucumber and a piquant soy dressing, to a sizeable plate of crispy chicken -- the recipe borrowed from elder sibling restaurant Tosca in Hingham -- which is made with a naturally raised bird.
Gem's carefully culled wine list also is succinct but tantalizing (honeyed Californian sparkling, citrusy New Zealand SB), and dessert offers up just two options: a pan-grilled ricotta cheesecake with spiced fruit compote, or a mocha parfait.
After all, choice, if overdone, is just more baggage.
A jewel to behold in many ways
It must be fun decorating restaurants in these days of ad hoc, mismatched prints and patterns. Gem’s interior is a mix of voluptuous Victoriana — three different patterned brocades upholster comfy seating and wood that fits and sits grandly into Downtown Crossing.
Pressed Crisp Chicken
Tuna Sashimi Sandwich
Roasted Sea Bass
Nicoise ‘A La Aquitaine’
If you go
42 Province St.,
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