Radius, Financial District, Boston Revisited

Radius (BMH’s first review of Radius) is a high-end restaurant in the Financial District with the motto “Who says four stars can’t be fun?” and I tend to agree. Owned by James Beard winner Michael Schlow and sister restaurant to Tico, Via Matta and Alta Strada, Radius has consistently held accolades as one of the best restaurants in America.

The ambience is lovely. The space is decorated in warm tones of taupe and tan with fun pops of vermillion red throughout the restaurant. The circular dining area, for which the restaurant is named is to the right and the bar to the left when you walk in. The bar is definitely a classy place- it has nice leather banquettes and armchairs for patrons. We chose to have a few drinks, appetizers and try the burger per my sister’s recommendation in the bar area.

This time around, the restaurant only had a few diners in the dining area and a much busier bar. No matter, we still managed to grab a four top in the leather banquette section and later took over that area once a few more friends arrived.

I started with a palate opening aperitif of Lillet blanc. The bartender was sweet, well-dressed and unbelievably patient with my indecision this evening.

Tuna Tartare- potato confit, roasted pepper, olive, tonnato $16

Half a dozen fresh oysters with melon ball pearl, pickled onion and mignonette sauce

These clean, briny oysters were a favorite at the table. The picked onion provided a nice tang and the melon lent its sweetness to contrast with the salt from the oysters.

Duck salad- with mixed greens and crushed pistachios

Slices of tender poached duck are served in a preparation similar to the pork on the tasting menu — the flavors are dynamite together, the duck classic. I could eat this dish every day and not tire of the flavors.

Maine Lobster- fennel, grapefruit, parsley root, orange gastrique $21

This was a great appetizer that we ended up sharing. The lobster was perfectly cooked, still tender and succulent. The different sauces helped to give bites of lobster a different complimentary taste as you ate. I really enjoyed the orange and parsley root sauces.

“The Burger”- Vermont cheddar, crispy onions, horseradish sauce $19

I split this burger with my dining companion since we were both almost full from all the tasty appetizers. There has been a huge buzz around the burger in particular at Radius, which was one of the first upscale Boston restaurants to offer an upscale burger.

The bread is nice and thick but not hard. It’s pleasantly pliant. It soaks up the juices from the burger patty well and doesn’t overtake all the meat with its size. The wait staff stated that the burger was cured in olive oil for 24 hours but it is made out of 80/20 ground chuck. Using just ground chuck makes me feel like this burger could be something I could buy elsewhere or make myself. The 9 oz burger was a nice shade of pink. I read that the burger is grilled, then cooked in the oven, so you don’t really get a traditional crust as if you had grilled it the whole time.  The toppings added extra salt via the onion strings and moist creaminess via the horseradish dressing and Vermont cheddar. Served in a mini saucier, the fries were Radius’ take on McDonald’s classic fast food fries.  The fries were somewhat crispy but thicker with a soft interior.

People rave that this is the best burger in Boston, but it is not my personal best burger. It’s even won the best of the South Beach Burger Festival honors in 2009.  I really like this burger, but I don’t love it. I would certainly eat it again. It just seems like it is reliant on the  high-quality condiments and toppings to help it along for $19. The burger here is quite good, don’t get me wrong, but my favorite will always be the burger at Craigie on Main.

If you don’t want to actually go to Radius to try their popular burger, the Wall Street Journal published the recipe for Schlow’s burger last June. Try your hand at it at home and see.

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