Christmastime for our family has become less about stuff and more about experiences. For the past few years I have done my best to plan an outing of sorts that had the potential to surprise and delight our now young adult children. Some have been more successful than others. I was running through ideas for this year’s activity when I heard a podcast review of something call an “Escape Game”. I was completely unaware of this phenomenon. Apparently, there are escape rooms dotted about the country, usually in cities, where you pay someone to lock in a room for an hour with the slim chance that you can figure out a series of puzzles and clues which will allow you to well, escape. I was intrigued. I did some research and discovered two such rooms in the Boston area. One, which had the puzzle type elements I had previously mentioned and another, which has the horrifyingly intense addition of a chained up zombie which looms closer and closer as the clock runs out. We passed on that one, thanks. I don’t need that kind of pressure.
I won’t keep you in suspense. We didn’t make it out. We got down to the last task but we really needed another ten minutes, at least, to figure it out. They do a really good job with these puzzles and clues. They are certainly solvable, but clever enough to make it a real challenge. If you’re on the wrong track you may simply get stuck even though they do throw you some hints from time to time. Here’s a few words of advice: The room holds up to ten people. We were a party of five so we expected to work with another team, but they never showed. I was happy because I wasn’t keen on being with a bunch of strangers, but it became clear that having more people will help get through the clues faster. Second, it’s super dark in there. You are asked not to take pictures, but you can keep your phone and use it for a flashlight, thank goodness. All in all it was a fun time and worth the price of admission. I think we’re making good memories here. We’ll find out when the kids write their memoirs.
Next on the agenda was dinner. Unlike previous years when I was numero uno in charge, my daughter Meghan piped up and chose the restaurant for our feast, Boston Chops. This bistro can be found on a list of 50 Boston Bucket list restuarants, specifically for the 18 oz. Bone-In Ribeye Steak. Sounded great to me!
I hastily took a few pictures, (see above) but in an effort to not embarrass my family too much, I refrained from taking photos of the dining room. Instead I lifted one from the ‘net.
The atmosphere of this upscale steakhouse was well, a bit uneven. The design was beautifully simple and elegant with a bit of a masculine touch which was perfectly appropriate. However, there were a few oddities which I’ll touch on here and there.
Here’s an example of something that didn’t belong: the laminated menu. Granted, the offerings probably stay pretty constant here so they might not need to print up new menus frequently, but a plastic, placemat-style menu just did not match the caliber of the restaurant or the prices therein.
We started out with a cocktail which was extraordinary. I couldn’t find the description online, but suffice it to say it’s a blend of rye, ginger beer and pure golden sunshine. I can’t remember the last time I experienced such a well balanced aperitif.
Instead of a basket of bread, we were each presented with a heavenly, warm, eggy popover.
Whilst we await our appetizers I’ll take a moment to mention another quirky element at Boston Chops, the music. With the mature, upscale surroundings one would expect to hear some jazzy piano or Ole’ Blue Eyes emanating from the sound system. Instead, they played loud, drubbing club beats. It was quite obnoxious and did not suit the room at all. We coyly asked if they might switch it up but our server said he’d been listening to this, ahem, music every day for years. Guess it ain’t gonna change.
On to the food! I will tell you right now that there was literally nothing about the food we experienced that was fell short of expectation. We started with a selection from the “Rarely Celebrated” section of the menu, where you can sample things such as tongue, heart, cheeks and oxtail. We went with the Bone Marrow. It was superb!
Next, Jeff asked for a dozen of the oysters of the day. They very nicely split them onto two serving plates for easier sharing. Bravo!
Lastly, it was highly recommended by Meghan that we get the Pork Belly Mac and Cheese. It sounded so good we got two. It’s a bit of a misnomer because the pork belly element was just a small cube nestled on the top, not incorporated all throughout. That being said, it was slap your mamma delicious! Not heavy or greasy, just perfectly balanced cheesiness.
Now for the mains. This is where your bill for the evening will turn from a bit pricey to the “take out a second mortgage” range. This is a high end steak house and as is standard in such places, the cuts of beef are prime aged, served a là carte and quite expensive. The side dishes are just as much the star of show here! The portions are generous enough that table mates could easily share two or three.
Without further ado…
This was Mr. Jones’ dinner. I had a taste, you better believe it and it was absolutely scrumptious! Perfectly seasoned and spot on medium-rare temperature as requested.
Now, the sides…
Oh my. These potatoes were gorgeous, with huge chunks of spiced bacon lardons. Amazing. The brussels sprouts below were also “au canard” or cooked in duck fat, but they buried the lead on the menu because…more bacon!
In addition to the prime a là carte steaks, there are composed plates to choose from. I decided on the bone-in filet. The beef was not quite as mind blowing as the ribeye, but spectacular none the less. I have to say, ranking everything on the plate, I would put those mushrooms number one. Holy Umami! However, I was reaching my limit by this point.
Before we wrap up I’ll share the last quirky thing about this Bistro. The super weird art work in the bathrooms.
Let’s take a minute to break this down. Here we have three super-hot chicks, along with one douchey dude (seemingly ogling on of the ladies’ bozooms) and a somewhat androgynous (fellow?) in the back, out for an evening at Boston Chops. No problem. Upon closer inspection you’ll notice that they haven’t eaten anything due to the rolled-up, signature napkins still nestled in their leather cuffs. Despite their empty bellies, they’ve seemingly polished off TWO bottles of champagne along with approximately TWENTY shots !!! What the H-E- double hockey sticks is going on here? Is this what they’re going after with the club music? Do they want people to think of this place as a classy restaurant or a sleazy Las Vegas night club?
Snarky critiques aside, this was an absolutely tremendous meal with service that was friendly, yet formal, which is just what you’d expect from a place of this pedigree. We had a fantastic evening and I’d certainly keep this place in mind for a special night in town. Maybe next year, after we attempt to escape the Zombie Room, we’ll try the brains…