Apparently, Boston restaurateurs are supposed to be named Chris. The chef/owner of Ashmont Grill, our favorite every-day local restaurant — well, more like twice a month, but who’s counting? — is Dorchester neighbor Chris Douglass. Then, for my birthday dinner this year, Barbara and I went to Boston Chops Downtown, where the chef-owner is Chris Coombs. Each owns other local restaurants as well: Chris Douglass, Tavolo; Chris Coombs, Deuxave, dBar, and Boston Chops South End. And one more connection: we picked Boston Chops because our favorite regular server at Ashmont Grill now works only half-time there and half-time at Boston Chops. Got it?
OK, enough context. On to the food, service, and atmosphere. Food was perfect, as you would hope at these prices. (Boston Chops is a once-a-year splurge, not a twice-a-month regular place for going out to eat). Barbara had oysters, crab cakes, hanger steak, creamed spinach grating, and French fries. All were excellent (she especially liked the three little crab cakes), but I can vouch only for the fries, which were even better than McDonalds! I had French onion soup, prime bone-In ribeye “as featured on the cover of Food & Wine” with confit garlic & herb sachet, deconstructed Caesar salad, Black Forest Cake with homemade cherry sorbet, and espresso. Too much food, of course, so we took a lot home. But everything was just right, from the quality of the ingredients to how they were prepared to the personalized service. (Knowing the server might have helped! But we also got perfect service from everyone else, from the one who brought our food to the one who kept our water glasses filled.) The huge wine list is amazing, but way above our usual budget: it was hard to find much under $100 a bottle. We ordered one of the few that were priced lower than that; it was an excellent wine and a good match for the food.
Fortunately — and not coincidentally I’m sure — we were seated at the back. I say it was fortunate as the music at the front was much too loud. It didn’t help that at one point they were also showing excerpts from Top Chef featuring Boston Chops’s own Adrienne Mosier as one of the contestants, to frequent outbursts of applause from the young crowd at the bar. Speaking of young, I’m quite sure that Barbara and I were the oldest guests there, and it wasn’t even a weekend.
Anyway, bottom line is a clear thumbs-up, but only for rare and special occasions.