BOSTON – Bastille Kitchen is what happens when a neighborhood French brasserie goes big; really big and really beautiful. Arguably the hottest new restaurant in Boston’s hottest restaurant neighborhood, Bastille Kitchen is over 10,000 square feet of indulgence and delight on Melcher Street in Fort Point.
“Bastille Kitchen is the entire two floors,” described Executive Chef Adam Kuge. “As you walk in it’s a high vaulted ceiling, exposed bricks and beams. The bricks have been white-washed to give it a bit of a distressed look.
“Then you come downstairs, it’s what we call The Chalet. It’s a little bit of a darker feel. It’s a great space to come either before your meal, hang out and enjoy a cocktail, or if you want to enjoy your entire experience down here.”
The menu that Kube has designed is devoted to Parisian fare with a modern touch. So there are braises and stews, butter and cream, but with a bit of a lighter touch.
“Simple, yet playful,” he said. “If you rush through, especially with French cooking, there’s so many different levels where you can enrich the flavors of the dishes. If you don’t take the time to brown the mirepoix or the meat properly, you’re just losing out on great flavor that you can get from the end product.”
From appetizers to flatbreads, entrees to dessert, the end product is outstanding.
Let’s start with the starters. Since Bastille Kitchen is right down the road from Boston’s Tea Party Museum, one of their signature dishes is Tea Smoked Mussels. They’re served out of the shell, finished with shallots, garlic, white wine, and emulsified butter, along with some Earl Grey sea salt and nice crusty slice of rouille toast to sop up the broth.
You can also find delicate handmade agnolotti pasta, stuffed with seafood sausage. But the perfect way to start the Bastille experience is with the Onion Soup.
“My French Onion Soup, the whole cooking process takes at least 8 hours,” said Kube. “We top it with the gruyere cheese crouton. Traditionally French onion soup, it’s baked in the crock. You have that great gratinee cheese all over; it’s ooey and gooey. You still get that with my French onion soup, but we top it with a sunnyside egg. And as you mix the yolk into the soup, it adds a whole different depth of flavor.”
Surprisingly for a French restaurant, pizza is a specialty at Bastille Kitchen as well. They’re served flatbread style with hand-stretched dough seasoned with fennel seed and rosemary. There’s the Tomato Pistou flatbread, sort of a French version of pesto layered with oven roasted tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. The indulgent Lobster Flatbread stacks creamy gruyere cheese sauce and fresh chunks of lobster meat with a lemon pepper relish. But if you really want to pig out, check out the Pork Belly Flatbread.
“It’s braised pork belly that’s crisped up almost like bacon. There’s some bacon jam underneath, some Vermont cheddar cheese and it’s topped with apple cherry compote. It’s got a lot of great things going on.”
Moving onto the big ticket entrees, Bastille boasts choices like an incredible Boullabaisse for Two, packed with fresh cod, mussels, clams, and lobster swimming in a saffron Cognac broth. There’s the even more fragrant and fantastic Vanilla Butter Poached Lobster. For something more straight-forward, there’s the always popular steak frites, featuring a grilled skirt steak, port wine compound butter, and crispy hand-cut fries. And then there’s the jaw-dropping Beef Short Rib Wellington.
“I take a one pound beef short rib bone-in. It’s topped with a truffled mushroom duxelle, wrapped in puff pastry, baked until golden brown,” described Kube. “It’s accompanied by pomme fondant, butter braised potatoes essentially, served with some roasted glazed carrots, and then on top of the pomme fondant is a foie gras torchon. A very decadent dish; definitely will fill you up. It just melts in your mouth.”
Desserts at Bastille are show-stoppers. Try the Citrus Napoleon, stacking layers of puff pastry and lemon cream with toasted meringue on top; or the Chocolate Mousse Tart, boasting a Graham cracker crust, Valrhona chocolate, and a bruleed orange vanilla marshmallow.
So whether you come for sweet, savory, or just for the scene, it’s no big surprise to find so many Bostonians storming the Bastille.
You can find Bastille Kitchen at 49 Melcher Street in Boston, and online at bastillekitchen.net.
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