Note from Becca: Once a year, a core group of girls from my college sorority fly from various cities across the country to get together and let loose. Vegas, Houston, St. Louis … the locale is always different; but no matter where we land, we always find plenty of trouble to get into. This year, we descended on Boston for brewery tours, baseball games, and bar hopping. Wrapping up our weekend at brunch, we took the recommendation of my Boston friend Saro and headed to Aquitaine in the South End. Here, my sorority sister Stephanie recounts the Sunday meal.
There are very few things I adore more than a good meal with fabulous friends. Chicago’s restaurant week makes me far giddier than Christmas Eve did as a 7-year-old. So when traipsing around Boston with the girls last weekend, brunching our way through the City On the Hill was the only way to go.
Our last meal together was brunch at Aquitaine, a charming corner bistro in Boston’s South End that had a line wrapped round the corner before it even swung open its doors at 11 a.m. Once we were seated, it felt like forever before drinks appeared in our freshly manicured fingers. Most of us stuck to the ubiquitous mimosa, but a Bloody Mary and a Bellini also graced the table. I decided on a gin concoction called the Bees Knees. I felt slightly guilty about drinking gin before the sun set, but I love a good gin cocktail, and Bombay with thyme-infused honey and citrus turned out to be light, fresh and slightly sweet—just what I needed that morning.
Before we decided on what to eat, we ordered a round of cinnamon rolls, rumored to be the best in Boston. They were smaller than I expected; about the size of a hockey puck, but the similarities ended there. The cinnamon buns were light, flaky, drizzled with a not-too-sweet glaze and were gone in seconds.
Aquitaine’s brunch menu boasted a prix fixe menu that included juice, coffee, a cinnamon bun, breakfast potatoes, toast and an omelet of your choice. My aforementioned obsession with Chicago restaurant week led me to assume the prix fixe menu would showcase the best of the best—the dish that designated them as the spot for brunch in Boston, so I ordered the prix fixe with the Omelette de la Maison (bacon, tomatoes and gruyere). Others ventured away from the prix fixe to order things like Steak & Eggs (with a perigord black truffle vinaigrette) and the Salade Nicoise (coriander-crusted tuna over mixed greens, fennel, egg, anchovy and lemon crème fraiche vinaigrette).
This is where I learned to differentiate between restaurant week prix fixe and brunch rush prix fixe. My food was not bad, but it was disappointingly unremarkable. I kept getting whiffs of the truffle vinaigrette drizzled on the steak next to me and eventually begged for a bite. Tender, juicy and everything good steak should be. After that, my omelet paled, and I spent the rest of brunch begging bites off of my friends. This would have been an excellent opportunity to order another Bees Knees.
We also ordered a Mac & Cheese to share at the table, which featured sharp Cheddar, gruyere and Parmesan. While I’d hoped it would be a little heavier on the sharp Cheddar, the blend of the three cheeses was still very good. The texture was smooth and creamy and set off with a slight crunch of the toasted bread crumbs sprinkled over the top.
Overall it was a lovely brunch. Our server was occasionally MIA, but was eerily intuitive and always checked in with another round when our glasses got low. There were definitely some good dishes on the table, but beware the prix fixe unless you are recovering from a wild night and might need a not-super-flavorful fix.
The Bitches say: B- Great bistro vibe, and clearly the brunch spot du jour in Boston, but the food and drinks were just slightly above average.
Aquitaine French Bistro
569 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02118
Stephanie Hunsberger is a born-and-raised Chicago girl with a weakness for haute cuisine and good wine. She has recently picked up the extreme sport of adventure eating, which she continues to practice at home and abroad. Check out her website here.