One week after the first restaurant for Restaurant Week, my boyfriend (let’s call him P) and I went to The Wine Cellar. I chose this restaurant because it was said to be “the most romantic restaurant”; the girlish side of me jumped out at the word “romantic,” and after looking at the menu, I reserved a table for two immediately.
The Wine Cellar is a restaurant specializing in fondues, from cheese appetizer fondue and meats and veggies entrée fondue to the chocolate dessert fondue. It has a very welcoming and intimate atmosphere, with brick walls, a painted mural on one side, and low lights. First impression as we walked into the restaurant down the stairs (it’s halfway underground) was appealing.
Although we originally came here to get fondues for all three courses (because according to other diners and reviews, that’s what made this restaurant more romantic), we decided to order separate dishes. I ordered the French Onion Soup, which was alright – but then after all, it’s hard to go wrong with onion soup, as it is always a safe choice. It did not wow me in any way, especially the presentation; as you can see, presentation is not their forte.
P ordered the Escargot served with puff pastry, a dish that was extremely disappointing. The escargots were swimming in the greasiest pesto I have ever seen, and the pastry was served cold. P hadn’t even eaten half of it when he put his fork down, saying “Yeah… I can’t eat this anymore.” It was a rough start.
Fortunately, my entrée, rack of lamb marinated in rosemary and mustard served with potato gratin, was delicious. The meat was tender and juicy, and the gamy flavor combined well with the rosemary and mustard marinade. The potato gratin also had a good texture and flavor. I did not, however, love the overdone garnish that was so cooked that it was crispy and dry, and the presentation. There always seemed to be an excessive amount of parsley or some other spice on everything, which made the dish look messy and hurried. The tasty lamb made up for its looks, but I did wish that it were presented a little cleaner.
P ordered the steak with pomme frites, which did not impress us. We were surprised that when taking the order, the waitress did not ask how he wanted the steak to be done. Because she didn’t ask, we expected the dish to be excellent, as it seemed like the restaurant was very confident in the dish. When it arrived, we were disappointed. The fries were not crispy and had begun to get cold, and the steak was almost well done all around, except for the dead center of the steak, half which P gave me to try (and therefore barely getting a good piece himself). When I gave him some of my dish to try, he regretted that he didn’t order the lamb. For dessert, we did get a fondue. The melted chocolate came in a warm bowl with a cute candle lit beneath it, and the plate came with a fair amount of desserts to dip in the chocolate. The long, small fork was cute and classy, although I had a hard time using it. In general, it looked better than the courses that came before; I just wish that it tasted as good as it looked. The chocolate was not bad at all – it was dark and rich, perfect for dipping fruits and cookies in. The problem was elsewhere.
The ladyfingers were stale and flavorless, and their lack of flavor could not be enhanced, even by the good chocolate. The fried dough was also stale and cold, and seemed like it was made an hour before it was served. The brownies, in which I had hopes, were also dry and bland. We ended up only eating the fruits and merely picking on the rest little by little, until we left the fried dough unfinished in the end.
I do not know if the restaurant did not serve its best because it was Restaurant Week or because we were comparatively younger customers; however, it is unacceptable either way that the kitchen served us subpar dishes.
Although we enjoyed the atmosphere and the lamb, everything else was mediocre at best, and we were dissatisfied time and time again. It was a nice experience and a lovely restaurant, but I do not think I will be returning.
30 Massachusetts Ave
Boston, MA 02115