Tuesday, July 23, 2013

80 Thoreau... Soooo good

A month ago, I went with my family for dinner at 80 Thoreau in Concord Ma. Set in an unassuming shopping area in the center of Concord, as you approach you would never think that you were about to enter a amazing farm to table gourmet dining experience. 80 Thoreau is an amazing space with beautiful dark wood beams, high ceilings, sky lights, cozy booths, and a gorgeous dark wood bar. It's split into two rooms with 3 separate areas; a bar area, a smaller cozier dining room, and then another dining room next to the open kitchen where you can watch delightful dishes take shape.

80 Thoreau is dedicated to using fresh local ingredients, as a result the menu is constantly changing. Chef Carolyn Johnson, formerly associated with Rialto and Icarus, really does an amazing job of getting the most out of her fresh seasonal ingredients.

I LOVE it when a restaurant brings an amuse-bouche and this one was a tiny radish cut in half topped with garlic scape butter and garnished with a little edible flower. I'm normally not a huge radish fan, but this was a delightfully fresh and seasonally appropriate little bite to start the evening.

For appetizers, 3 out of 4 people at the table opted to start with the gnocchi accompanied by nettles, prosciutto, and I believe a garlic scape purée. The gnocchi were tiny, fried, crispy pillows of deliciousness. I've had two different preparations of gnocchi there now and both times were delightfully memorable. All of our plates were wiped clean by the time were through. The fourth person chose an artichoke white bean soup with capers which was rich, creamy, and a great way to highlight the favors of early summer.

For dinner I had Rohan duck breast with cherries, walnuts, and kale. I'm not in love with kale but this treatment was enough to make me rethink my position. The dish was topped with crispy salty kale chips and the kale itself was really the perfect texture; a little chewy but not too chewy and mixed with the cherries and walnuts every bite was a great balance of sweet and salty with just a touch of bitter thrown in with the walnuts. The duck was shockingly light and went perfectly with all the sides. I was so excited about the duck that I forgot to take a picture of it.

We had two different desserts, The chocolate Bete Noir, a delightful chocolate cake, I would bet flourless. The cake itself was both smooth and dense. I'm a huge chocolate fan and this was one of the best chocolate cake options I've had in Boston or the suburbs. it came with a mint julep ice cream that was very good. It was a light ice cream with a texture somewhere between creamy and icy. The mint flavor was light and sweet but in no way overwhelming. There was a candied mint leaf on top, it was a beautiful touch that made me exclaim "Yes that is a candied friggin mint leaf. I love it here!"

The second dessert consisted of roasted strawberries, a light olive oil cake, and ice cream with a side of lavender honeycomb. I love honeycomb. I have to admit that I stole most of it before my fellow diners got to it. As a rule, I will always default to chocolate, but this was a great spring/summer desert, perfect consistency with flavors that are a light fresh touch and not overwhelming. The perfect end to a delicious meal.

80 Thoreau is honestly one of my favorite restaurants in the greater Boston area.  I can't recommend it highly enough. I didn't cover drinks in this post because honestly the wonderful things that come out of their bar deserve their own post, and I intend to visit for drinks and write that post soon. I highly recommend 80 Thoreau for any occasion I hope you'll go out and give it a try!

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