It's spring in New England, which means it's obviously still chilly. Hunkering down at Sel de la Terre Back Bay's low-lit bar in the corner of the airy, but comfy, dining room with a cognac-laced sidecar and rich, beef-flecked arancini provides a warming pause.
It's warm and sunny sitting by Sel's window overlooking Boylston Street, chomping down a plate of organic chicken surrounded by orange, amber, asparagus and green tender root vegetables, sipping a citrusy, ferny Three Brooms sauvignon blanc.
Chef Franco Carubia patiently awaits new spring produce for Sel de la Terre's menu, which is built around local availability. A plate of cheerful-looking golden beets laced with a little sea salt and vinegar has lots of creamy burrata, and his roast cod with lightly curried cippolini onions and the fresh bite of braised fennel is surrounded by a velvety pureed celery and apple espuma. On the sweet side, a rum-soaked savarin (a yeasty cake named for a father of gastronomy) is topped with banana ice cream and paired with zingy mango, lime and mint. Spring allows for the best of both worlds: new bright flavors and crisper textures tempered by comforting, softer winter ones.
The Chef's Whim
Every third Wednesday, Sel de la Terre Back Bay, which is the third of this French-influenced local mini-chain (there are the original Long Wharf and Natick Mall locations too), offers a changing five-course Chef's Whim Wednes-day dinner (7 p.m., $65). On May 2, Chef Carubia hosts "A Journey Through Spring" --and though the menu won't be chosen until he knows what's available, he says he's looking forward to Vermont spring lamb and seasonal faves like peas, rhubarb, duck eggs and edible flowers.
If you go
Sel de la Terre Back Bay
774 Boylston St., Boston