Restaurant Review: Kitchen in the South End
Main courses are mixed. Roast half chicken with alfalfa and clover hay ($22) sounds pretty odd, but it’s inspired by the French tradition of cooking meat (ham, usually) in hay, which sweetens it and insulates it for long cooking. Herritt uses the hay to stuff a brined chicken, and the result is moist, sweet roast meat with a buttery, intensely flavored pan-juice reduction enhanced by strong chicken stock. And then there’s the pork and beans ($23), a dish that features slow-cooked pork ribs and shoulder as well as an offal meatball that joins the ranks of Coppa’s and Il Casale’s in moist, porky excellence. The baked beans are terrific, too—firm but cooked through, and naturally sweet from the pork stock rather than from the usual molasses.
Two showstopper dishes, taken from classical Gilded Age cooking, are expensive, luxurious successes. Tournedos Rossini ($34) is worth ordering less for the unremarkable foie-gras crouton and faint-flavored black truffle than for the big piece of beef tenderloin, expertly cooked so it remains almost fork-soft but not mushy, with a rich madeira sauce. The lobster thermidor ($32), a long out-of-fashion dish, makes a welcome reappearance and is the triumph of the menu: a generous six ounces of lobster meat paired with spinach, garlic, and flour-egg gnocchi and baked in a loose cream sauce with grated Gruyère and Comté cheeses. The gnocchi (“Parisian”-style, a cream-puff dough piped into rounds) soak up the sauce like fresh bread, and the whole entrée arrives at the table browned and bubbling hot. It’s almost pure butter—a meal that would warm Julia Child’s heart.