It was raining when we headed out to Laurel: Grill & Bar for their restaurant week menu. Adam had looked at the menu online and some items jumped out at him so he was very much looking forward to visiting this Back Bay establishment.
Please note: Although Adam is dying of an incurable ulcer (or so he thinks) it's his solemn duty to "take on restaurant week" he informs me as he is recovering from dinner on my couch.
Adam says: I spent a lot of time weeding through restaurant week menus. A lot of them had crap on them, and I didn't want to go to those places. But the tenderloin at Laurel did catch my eye and never having been there, I thought that this was a perfect opportunity. We arrived at Laurel, after braving the weather, and were immediately seated by the colorful maître d' and were happy to note that the menu presented to us was the same menu online. The entire time we ate at Laurel, the atmosphere was comfortable. The soothing colors on the wall promoted this as well as the tentative and friendly service.
I immediately knew I wanted the tomato and mozzarella salad, the beef tenderloin encrusted with Gorgonzola and the mud pie. There was no thinking. I didn't even look at the rest of the menu. Lina (or as I call her: Lima Bean) our waitress, seemed to be in tuned to the fact that I already knew what I wanted and shouted out "Beef tenderloin!" at me. I'm not sure if she was suggesting the beef tenderloin or calling me a beef tenderloin but either way, it sounded delicious.
Bryan ordered the shrimp and lobster risotto for his appetizer, the beef tenderloin for his entree and the mud pie for dessert.
I ordered the corn and tomato gazpacho, the grilled sausage and onion grilled pork, and of course, the mud pie.
The gazpacho was fine. Nothing too intense or special but a nice combination of flavors.
I had never had gazpacho before, and for those of you who never have either, I was happy to find that it tasted a bit like salsa (if salsa was to be pureed and made into a cold soup).
The salad was straight-forward. Two tomatoes, two slices of mozzarella, a medley of greens and very little dressing but it was good. Adam wouldn't have minded a little bit more. Bryan thought that the risotto was fine. The rice was a little overcooked and the dish relied more on shrimp then lobster.
Adam says: I was not allowed to order my tenderloin rare to medium rare. I'm not sure if this was Lima Bean's own preference coming through or if they didn't have any in the back that were cooked that way, so I settled for medium rare (and got medium). The meat was still very flavorful and tender. Despite being advertised as being encrusted in Gorgonzola the piece of meat was covered in breadcrumbs (Bryan and I found two pieces of Gorgonzola in the breadcrumb mix) the meat however, didn't need it. The dish wasn't lacking with the absence of the Gorgonzola. It was served with mashed potatoes and asparagus, both were fine. Strangely, the rest of the plate was consumed by a cold red wine demi and even though it provided some flavor to the potato, Bryan and I found it odd that it was served at a cold temperature.
The pork fell flat. The chef had overcooked the meat and burnt both sides. This resulted in a very dry piece of pork that was hard to cut into. The filling was still moist but there was hardly
any filling inside. The top of the pork was
smothered (too much so) in mustard and then bread crumbs were applied on top of that adding even more dryness to the dish. The sweet potatoes were fine but the pork was so badly cooked that it was the only thing I could concentrate on.
Both Adam and I were expecting the mud pie to be almost like a ice cream pie with a crumble crust (like we've had at other restaurants) but Laurel serves a more traditional mud pie (being from the South, Bryan expected the Laurel-type of mud pie). Laurel's more traditional mud pie was a bit like a very very moist brownie with coffee ice cream on top and chocolate sauce. We all enjoyed the mud pie. Bryan thought it was wonderful and decadent.
Adam: Laurel is a perfect example of a restaurant I would consider during restaurant week: a place I didn't have very high expectations for, a place I wouldn't normally go to, and therefore, I had a pleasant experience. Not sure if I would go back but thanks to restaurant week I know what to expect if ever I go there again: An incredibly loud bartender, a comfortable dining room, friendly service, and pretty good food.
Adam gives Laurel a B.