Monday, April 4, 2011

Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar

After feeling sick for the majority of the winter thanks to two sinus infections and a cold/flu that hit twice within a month, I am finally feeling normal again, which means I'm on my way back to resuming my old eating habits. The husband finally succumbed to a cold but was down only for a day, and was able to head out for dinner the next day and consume two glasses of wine. Sometimes life just isn't fair.

My first restaurant foray post-illness was to Citizen's Public House in the Fenway area. It's a relatively new place (opened in September 2010), owned by the same people behind Franklin Cafe, which we really like but never go to since we're rarely in South End or Southie. Our second visit was considerably quieter than the first, since we went on a Wednesday night right around 7pm, instead of on a Friday night at 8pm. The food experience though was just as good the second time as the first.

We dined on the last night that featured their winter menu, and I'm glad we did since we enthusiastically enjoyed the hearty meals. Somehow I'd forgotten how their menu is so very reasonably priced, with most entrees below $20 and the odd one a couple bucks above. I would describe the cuisine as high quality comfort food, more sophisticated than Highland Kitchen that justifies the slightly higher price point in my mind. Both times we started off with oysters and glasses of prosecco, which to me is a heavenly way to start off an evening, then moved to country fried chicken livers. They're exactly as they sound - a nice crispy breading from frying with a delicious white gravy on the side, but oddly enough they didn't taste that livery to me and that was a minor negative to me. If I'm eating liver, I want it to taste livery; otherwise, what's the point?

I had to resist ordering the same main that I had the last time, which was a rich cassoulet with duck confit, smoked sausage, bacon, white beans and a cranberry glaze (or more like a cranberry sauce). It was a meat bomb, but man it was good. This time round I went with the pork and beans (yes there's a theme), consisting of crispy pork belly and maple-glazed beans. While my meal was deliciously reminiscent of a roast pig, thanks to the crispy skin on the pork belly, the husband's plate of beef bourguignon pappardelle was unlike any beef sauce/pasta dish I'd ever had. It wasn't soupy and didn't have a noticeable tomato base (I'm not crazy about tomato sauces), which I very much appreciated, and the luscious fattiness was punctuated with a fragrant herb that we couldn't identify. I was very pleased when neither one of us finished our meals, since both plates made a tasty lunch for me the next day in the middle of an unusually hellish day.

We managed to find room to share a dessert, but we found that to be the low note of the evening - the creme caramel we ordered was tasty, but the texture was off. It was too dense, without the creaminess of a custard that can still manage to retain its shape.

Unfortunately we left before a table for 14 was seated beside us. We suspected this group had ordered the whole roast pig that requires a minimum of 10 people, where at $38 per person (plus tax and tip), it seems like a great deal for shellfish appetizers, succulent roast pork and a variety of sides. It sounds like it's been a successful offering - according to a recent Boston Globe article, pig roasts occur nightly and reservations are booked until May, though there was apparently an opening available the night before we went due to a last minute cancellation. Drat, a missed opportunity... but the husband was speaking to a friend who suggested "let's go to a pig roast!" out of nowhere, so there may be large amounts of roast pork in my future again...


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