First Bite: Woodward
This new downtown spot has plenty of sizzle. Now, if only it would turn up the heat in the kitchen.
There are several Â good ideas waiting to coalesce at Woodward,Â the glossy restaurant and lounge in Bostonâ€™s new Ames hotel. Thereâ€™s smart design, particularly on the second floor, where the dining room is anchored by a fireplace and overlooks the Old State House. There are well-crafted cocktails and some tasty bites. There are crowds of pretty people â€” the target demographic â€” and the Financial District types who love them. And thereâ€™s a thoughtful attempt to create a scene that feels truly Bostonian, rather than just another notch on a hotel chainâ€™s bedpost.
Itâ€™s an ambitious aesthetic, and one that could inspire resounding huzzahs if the execution werenâ€™t so inconsistent. As it is, this is a place to watch and hope for.
Letâ€™s start with the food. Executive chef Mark Goldberg excels when -reinterpreting New England fare like short rib â€śpot roastâ€ť or serving succulent monkfish atop a sweet potato hash with lobster. And his house pickles are so good you wonâ€™t miss the bread they replace. This is Yankee food gone modern, and it works. But other inventions seem hokey, like a too-cheesy goat-cheese flatbread loaded with too much duck confit and dried cranberries, and spongy gnocchi in a weak tomato broth.
Then thereâ€™s the service, which ranges from great â€” a server who can hold forth on not just each drink and dish, but also the full history of the building and surrounding neighborhood â€” to one recent dud who didnâ€™t grasp that food requires silverware. In addition, the â€śsmallâ€ť and â€ślargeâ€ť shared plates look, and cost, an awful lot like appetizers and main courses, which is why itâ€™s so odd that they come out in staggered fashion â€” a move that reads less like tapas and more like chaos.
Still, enough succeeds that Woodward deserves time to work out the kinks. At its best, it offers a compelling city dining experience thatâ€™s equal parts past and present. And thatâ€™s a combination we can get behind.
Ames Hotel, One Court St., Boston, 617-979-8200.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2010/03/first-bite-woodward-0310/