Nestled inside the Hotel Indigo in Newton, Bokx 109 American Prime is an overlooked treasure that too many people consider beyond their realm. If you travel I-95 at all it's literally one minute off Exit 22. If you're the more urban type, it's immediately across from the Green Line Riverside stop. So, it's really not that far off. We were invited to dine there last week with Executive Chef Stephen Coe, who returned to the restaurant just last summer. And a triumphant return it is.
We began with the Smoke Show, served under this dramatic, smoke-filled goblet. Lifting the glass gives one a waft of smoke reminiscent of burning oak leaves in Fall. Perfect delight for this time of year.
Beneath the cloud is a Pear and Mascarpone Sacchetti, sack-shaped pasta stuffed with pear and mascarpone cheese and topped with cream sauce, arugula, pickled red onion and lemon for an excellent balance of smoky sweetness.
A taste of the sea was next with this Grilled Oyster: local oyster grilled and topped with fennel pollen, tomato, panko bread crumbs, pancetta and chive fondue. Fennel pollen is a sweeter, more intense flavor we'd never tried before. It was incredible. Although these toppings may seem to overpower the true taste of the oyster, it did not and it worked very well. In fact, we could have had a few more. The first two dishes were paired with a Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc, a nice match.
Next up was this Octopus Carpaccio: Carpaccio and grilled tentacles served with arugula and pickled red onions finished with lemon juice, olive oil, chives and a drizzle of balsamic. Again, an unusual mix but the crispy tentacles offset the smoother texture and flavor of the carpaccio.
An Autumnal favorite, tomatoes, showed up in this Heirloom Tomato Soup and Salad: a very creamy soup with garlic, onions and basil and a small tomato salad with both fresh mozzarella cheese and a breaded, lightly fried version.
The soup was finished with a fluffy Parmesan foam and paper thin Parmesan slices. Again, so good we wanted more. The last two dishes were paired with a Deep Sea Chardonnay.
Our next course was back to seafood with this Lobster Cavatelli: cavatelli pasta, lobster meat, shitake mushrooms, and edamame finished with a chive cream sauce. A slight Asian twist, a mouthful of umami, and the delicate lobster and pasta.
Chef Coe stopped by the table several times to answer questions, explain ingredients, sources, preparation and technique.
Next was Decon Rabbit: rabbit meat wrapped in , bacon served on a base of mashed, stewed butter beans. There are three schools of rabbit in this country: like it, don't like it or too unadventurous to try. I am of the first ilk and loved this dish. Others at the table found it too gamy (an oft-mentioned comment) or were in the first-try club and yet undecided. Rabbit, very popular in Italian cuisine but typically shunned by Americans, does have a gamier taste with strong similarity to chicken that I would encourage everyone to stretch the palate and at least try. These two dishes were served with a wonderful King Estate Pinot Gris.
Next up was another rich dish of Sous Vide Veal Cheeks: veal cheeks, tarragon pappardelle and parsnip puree. A Hogue Reserve Cabernet was paired to nicely match the dark, rich flavors.
The Dessert Plate included a suite of Strawberry and White Balsamic Jelly (a standout), a Petite Tiramisu and Chocolate Cyclone. The cyclone was topped with caramel popcorn for a nice, crunchy texture.
A Blueberry Prosecco Shooter was served with the Dessert Plate, a thick, foamy few sips of strong, sweet, liquefied blueberry taste.
As always the fireworks are saved for last. These Lemon Soufflé Pop Ups With Pop Rocks delighted everyone. A colorful, fun, inventive way to end our feast. Most of us could not stop at just one despite the fact that we were all well-sated.
Welcome back Stephen Coe! This mix of classic tastes, New England traditions and new twists is a hit with us and we hope that everyone will take the time to stop in and enjoy the comfortable space and excellent service.
Bokx 109 American Prime
399 Grove Street
Newton, MA 02462