Thursday, May 17, 2007
Miel-Intercontinental Hotel-510 Atlantic Avenue-Boston, MA 02210- 617.747.1000
I love modern design, all clean, crisp lines and free of decoration. So, when I entered the Intercontinental Hotel, Boston's newest, I thought I'd like everything about it. I had already read several gushing reviews of Miel, the hotel's new "authentic" French bistro and of Chef Jacques Chibois and Executive Chef Didier Montarou, the classic decor and the fact that they decided to stay open twenty-four hours a day. The apres club crowd will love this, I thought and I decided to visit.
It was a rainy night and the room was all but empty. We had reserved in advance so they couldn't beg off that a large party was expected as they'd done with other reviewers. The adjacent bar was crowded and noisy. We were seated right away. Having eaten in authentic Parisian bistros I knew right away that the decor here was a valiant attempt but still looked like a Disney version, manufactured and contrived, rather than the real thing. If I'd been blindfolded and dropped there I would have guessed that I was in the breakfast room of a decidedly urban hotel, not at all bistro-like. However, it was impeccably clean and the service began promptly.
Warm bread and a wonderfully light, fragrant olive oil was brought out. A heavier, Italian oil was offered but we opted for the French. I ordered the signature dish, the burger trilogy, consisting of three tint sandwiches: a kobe beef with foie gras, lobster salad and a tuna nicoise. They were quick bites seemingly designed for just the late night crowd they long to appeal to.
The beef was perfectly cooked, medium rare as ordered. The lobster was fair, not stellar, the piece gracing the top rather flavorless and the tuna nicoise was, perhaps, the best part, perfectly seasoned and textured and on a delicious focaccia bread. Along with the burgers come three cones of crisps: shoestring potato, which were the best, lattice fries, too soggy, and jicama chips, again lacking the desired crisp texture crunch.
The service was attentive but not overdone and the large, distinctive fireplace was a nice design touch. This really could be a cosy place for a romantic late night snack. Still, the restaurant must find its bearings to overcome the slight imperfections in the food and, sad to say, in my opinion, will never have that true bistro feel; a combination of simple, pleasant food and a bustling, well-sated crowd of happy diners.