The Watershed Tavern at the Boothbay Craft Brewery in Boothbay Maine was a revelation. I've been coming to Boothbay since wartime, that's WWII and while the take-out lobsters, clams, lobster rolls and chicken nuggets (for the grands) are terrific to eat at home, we've never eaten out at a dazzling place. Today our Gang of 12 of our kids and grands decided to try this place and I went with some hesitation.
The reception and seating was immediate, the orders were taken after 20 minutes, the flights of beer arrived after 40 minutes and the food much much later. But it was well worth the wait; I had ordered the Devil's Thumbprint, essentially fish 'n chips and it was clearly the very best huuuuge pieces of haddock with the very best aioli and very best fries I've had in eons - and the coleslaw was close to the very best.
Our bill for 12, before the imposed tip, was $289.73, thus $48.28 a couple.
Go? So if you want to have real Yankee food rather than the Parisian imitation, you cannot do better than at this seemingly unimpressive joint.
Tuesday, July 12 in Le Fooding, there was a review by Matthieu Jauniau-Dallier of Pierre Jancou, ex-Cremerie, ex-Racines, ex-Vivant(s), ‘s new venture Achille (named after the tendon of which he tore), 43, rue Servan in the 11th, 01.48.06.54.59, right now only open evenings but in September some lunches, closed Sundays and Mondays, running one 40-60 E for items such as tartare de béryx, white tuna and chocolate plus bio wines (of course, what else ?) ; then mainly restos outside Paris.
Thursday the 9th of June, in A Nous Paris, Aexis Chenu reviewed MYL (Make Your Lunch), 5, ave Jean-Jaures in the 19th, open 8-18 h weekdays, running one 15 E to put together a lunch from 35 ingredients ; and Tuesday July 19, Philippe Toinard reviewed Yannick Alleno’s latest venture, Stay, a Gastro-Brasserie in the Hotel Sofitel Le Faubourg, 15, rue Boissy d’Anglas in the 8th, open 7/7, where the formula at lunch is 29 E and lunch menu at 36 E for classic items (steak frites) as well as less caloric ones (veggie tartare) and a « chou » of vanilla, chocolate, mango and guacamole; and July 29th they listed BBQ places: Sur La Braise, L'Aller Retour, The Beast, Flesh, My Food Montreuil and Korean Barbeque.
Wednesdays, in Paris Update, Heidi Ellison was disappointed in Bonvivant in the 6th and Tondo but excited by her meal at Mensae and enjoyed Canard & Champagne.
In the jdd, Aurelie Chaigneau reviewed Mersea, 6, rue du Faubourg Montmartre in the 9th, 09.73.22.46.13, open 7/7, menus at 11-14 E serving items such as fish soup, fish and chips and lemon tarts (7/10); and the veggie place Wild and Moon in the 3rd (5/10) as well as returning to Le Vin au vert in the 9th (7/10).
We’ve been coming to the mountains for a week forever, first to Aspen in winter, then Vail in winter, then Aspen in summer; but the last two summer trips to Aspen were deferred because of my lust for new bionic parts; so this summer, we were really looking forward to chilling out.
In the meantime, huge changes have taken place; lots of fine dining places closed due to the Great Recession’s lingering impact, oddly enough, they seem to have been replaced by Gucci and Louis Vuitton-type stores. The Aspen Museum finally moved into center ville and one of Aspen’s leading cultural journalists and my friend and food-finder supreme – Stewart Oksenhorn of the Aspen Times – died suddenly at 50.
What has not changed except for the worse is the number of 1%’ers, counted by the rows of private planes, numbers of SUV’s and dogs and Trumpesque trophy wives, widows and divorcees with their identical bleached blond haircuts, enhanced breasts and elocution (or lack of it) training - or as we used to call them in the biz – bulimic bimbos. On the positive side….. we saw many families with young children in tow. As always, beautiful summer flowers are everywhere - in hanging baskets, planted along curbs and in private gardens along the way from town to the Music tent where we heard some splendid concerts.
Brunelleschi’s Pizza Emporium is still cranking along and our first lunch of a paisano pizza and beet salad with a glass of wine, iced tea and double espresso was a reasonable $56.29 before tip.
Maru Sushi has replaced Takah Sushi in the latter’s space and we shared one order of spicy edamame and a Chef’s Special sashimi, which with a bottle of wine came to $101.65 before tip.
We were lucky to be able to hear the first rate 25 year old pianist Behzod Abduraimov’s exact but soulful renditions of Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven and Prokofiev one evening.
We went the next morning to the Aspen Chamber Symphony Dress Rehearsal but even with one of our favorite violinists – Gil Shaham – we both found their versions of Mozart, Sessions and Haydn unexciting.
Asie on Main Street was our next spot and we had a meal there that matched most we’ve had before with sweet and sour mushroom soup, Thai chicken with green salad and King crab tempura; with a glass of wine, iced tea and double espresso, our tab came to $60.12.
Then we dropped in on the much-criticized new Aspen Museum which we both rather liked, especially its show of the pyramidal works by Alan Shields (1966-1985), open til October 2nd.
McKenneys at the Inn at Aspen (is a bit like all the hotels in the 9th Arr that call themselves Opera-Blahblah even though they are miles from either the Garnier or Bastille - the Inn at Aspen is several miles from Aspen) is a place Colette decided we should try and being at the bottom of the chairlift at Buttermilk it offers food befitting such a location – we had two weak G & T’s, a quesadilla with shrimp and chorizo and fish ‘n chips and a bottle of Calif Pinot Noir – $95.11 before tip.
Bosq, in the old Meatball space, is Barclay Dodge’s latest venture after Renaissance (OK+), Mogador (superb), Pacifica (well?) and Rustique (didn’t make it by me). It shows the lessons learned at El Bulli as well as in France, Italy and Morocco; at lunch the gazpacho was the best Colette and I have had since last summer; the shrimp/hard tacos about the best ever and a caramel custard out of this world. With 2 glasses of wine and iced tea and a double espresso correcto, the bill before tip was $100.85.
The Aspen Kitchen has a long and complicated history – it was to have been called the David Burke Kitchen in Aspen, but he resigned although his corporation apparently had a hand in it. It’s really “being led by chef Matthew O’Neill, once the executive chef at the Ajax Tavern and a current shareholder with the David Burke Group.” Whew! In any case its pub says it’s “of-the-moment, authentic and regional” cuisine; which may be true, but it’s fussy food, with pretentious prices (especially for the wines) and returns to the style of “Aspen food” I disliked 30 years ago; too many ingredients, too many flavors competing, too much"much ado," forgetting the elegance and excitement of simple presentations. For instance, my veal was properly cooked but plopped on top of a huge bed of grits and gravy accompanied by nuggets of fried sweetbreads. My wife lucked out however with a nice piece of sea bass with an olive oil and perhaps lemon sauce. Our bill, which included a huge dish of “burned” scapes with a strange garlicky sauce, a bottle of wine and nothing else was $139.90; our worst price-quality meal in quite a while.
The Sunday morning rehearsal at the Music tent is an old tradition of ours; sitting outside reading the Sunday NYT; this year was enhanced by a wonderful performance of Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto by the above mentioned Behzod Abduraimov with Dominick Argento’s Tango and selections from Gotterdammerung for good measure.
The Casa Tua is also a lunch tradition for us, especially the pasta with Bolognese sauce which is next to the best ever that we enjoyed years ago at Luigi Buitoni’s Locanda della Rocca in Paciano, Perugia, Umbria; Colette also liked her salad of spelt, baby artichokes, with 4 tasty shrimp. With 2 glasses of wine, iced tea and a double espresso ristretto (offered) our bill was $79.79 before tip.
Finally, this afternoon Colette went to the Music Tent to hear the same program as this morning. She sat outside as the tickets were $84 each for inside! - pretty pricey we think (sitting outside is free). This evening we went back to Bosq where we thoroughly enjoyed the halibut crudo with chips, shiitake tempura, caramelized sweet and sour eggplant and butterscotch pudding. Our bill before tip was $104.95.