It's not often that I have the opportunity to try out a fabulous restaurant for free. And when the chance came along, I took full advantage.
We unanimously voted to go to No. 9 Park for an end-of-semester dinner celebration. As we were a large group and the restaurant is relatively small, we were given a prix-fix menu. Typically I would be irritated by the forced limitation, however, the options were so tempting I couldn't be bitter for long.
I started out with the truffled gnocchi with Maine lobster, fresh peas and mushrooms. These hand-made pillows of deliciousness arrived steaming hot and served on a FABULOUS lobster cream sauce. The bits of lobster were perfectly cooked, the peas were al dente and the little mushrooms rounded out the flavors. I sopped up every bit of sauce with the crusty bread that was constantly replenished by our retinue of waiters. For a main dish I choose the prime sirloin, served with potato galette, short rib wrapped in swiss chard and a sauce made with bone marrow. The steak was tender and perfectly cooked. I could have done without the sprinkling of salt on top (it masked the flavor of the meat) and the short rib wasn't the best I've ever had. However, as a complete dish, I would say it was well-worth the price (esp since I wasn't paying!) For dessert I opted for the chocolate and cardamom mousse with Williams pear sabayon and salted butter glace. The mousse was not too sweet and deliciously chocolatey. The salted butter glace wrapped in a paper thin butter cookie and served with a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraîche perfectly complemented the intensity of the mousse.
Our server, with impeccable manner, offered a selection of cocktails before dinner. The flight of No. 9 Park specialties included a fabulous pear martini, a pink campari drink and a gin based cocktail with fresh lime and mint. All were wonderfully constructed. When asked for a wine recommendation I was offered a full-bodied Sirah, but then served a wine "even better" according to the server. It was a wine made specially for No. 9 Park: spicy, aromatic and a perfect complement to the sirloin.
The combination of fabulous food and impeccable service ranks this restaurant above most others in Boston. The waiters were always available, but not intrusive; the host was friendly and paid close attention to our party. I liked that the service was well-mannered, but not pretentious. Certainly a splurge (all told, our meals would probably break the bank of a graduate student) but entirely worth the investment.
No. 9 Park
9 Park Street
Boston, MA 02108