Asta, Back Bay, Boston

On the search for a new restaurant to try, we decided on Asta Boston, owned by former Sous Chef of L’Espalier (BMH’s review of L’Espalier) Alex Crabb and his girlfriend Shish Parsigian. Crabb and Parsigian opened Asta a year ago, located next to Indian Samaraat (BMH review) and the original Sweet Cupcakes location (BMH review).

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Several years ago, we went to 47 Massachusetts Ave when it was neighborhood pizza restaurant Cafe 47 (BMH review). The same exposed brick walls and Zeus painting is still along the walls. We loved the faux sheepskin at some of the seats.

We loved the relaxed vibe and the thoughtful touch of the knowledgeable staff. Shish stopped by and noticed we were admiring the plates and told us they were from Urban Oasis. The restaurant is only open evenings for dinner. The fancier, suit crowd naturally would gravitate towards Deuxave (BMH’s bar review), but we highly suggest Asta for an equally sophisticated and delicious experience, in a more chill, simple environment. For those who are driving, parking maybe an issue given the restaurant’s location, however just use the shared valet with Deuxave.

The number of tasting courses in a tasting menu are the beginning of the Fibbonacchi sequence (3, 5, 8). We loved the locally sourced ingredients (so Californian) from Frank McClelland’s farm. All the dishes were cerebal, with layers of flavors and seemingly simple. We started of with a glass of rose and amuse bouche arrived on a large stone. The paprika crisp had a nice spice which went well with  with chewy octopus.

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We were pleasantly surprised and tickled by the pull out utensil drawer filled with utensils for our use throughout the meal. We decided on sharing the 3 ($45) and 5 ($70) course tasting for more variety. Our first course was the local greens chestnut honey vinaigrette. The greens were a nice balance of bitter paired with the lightly sweet dressing and blueberries.

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We loved the pressed duck confit “cake” with corn and beans. The rich pressed duck was in the shape of a slice of chocolate cake and it was slightly crispy and tender duck meat. We thoroughly enjoyed the accompaniment of split green beans, white beans and fresh corn which added a nice cut to the rich flavor.

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For the denouement of the 3 course tasting we enjoyed the crème caramel which peanuts and grapes. The dessert was reminiscent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, however more sophisticated. We enjoyed the texture of the flan and enjoyed the Asian flavors from the lemongrass and saltiness of the peanuts.

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One of the most clever and whimsical dishes of the 5 course tasting was the great escape. Our server explained that the snail is escaping the garden. Fun right? The escargot was nicely crisp and went well with the fresh vegetables and creamy tangy green goddess. 

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Another truly spectacular, perfectly executed dish was the buttery, well prepared scallop with earthy farro, sweet blueberries and coriander. All the components balanced and complimented each other. We could not get enough and ate every morsel.

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The black garlic, black trumpet mushrooms, turnip dish had an earthy broth.

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We sopped up the mushroom broth with a nicely butter slathered piece of fresh bread.

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One of my favorites of the meal was the tender and perfectly cooked beef ribeye, with leeks, fried scallion, caramelized onions and baby potatoes. Truly the sides, the onion and potatoes were rock stars on the dish and were more than just a compliment to the beef. This was a symphony on a platter, truly artistic and harmonious. Would be back for the beef.

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The crunch bar with curried coconut, sesame, chocolate was much more savory a dessert than we expected. It had nice textures and a deep chocolate flavor. Our favorite parts were the “granola” like sesame bits.

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Our favorite sweet treat was the complimentary chocolate shortbread and caramel popcorn. They deep chocolate flavor and buttery shortbread was delicious and we loved the stick sweet popcorn. If Asta wanted a day business, they could open up a cafe during the day and sell the cookies and popcorn and we’d be lifetime patrons.

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Next time, we would definitely request to sit at the bar and see the open kitchen closer in action. Asta’s food is a creative, delicious and certainly a  fun evening. We would certainly return for another go and a relaxed, special meal.

We would be curious to try the eight course $95 tasting menu sometime. We would be curious to try the featured cold white soup with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, duck breast with  beets and alliums and the dessert of cereal blueberries, cookie crisp cajetas milk for $95.

Asta on Urbanspoon

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