Boston Restaurant Blog -- March, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
When I hear the word "football," I tend to conjure up thoughts of rabid fans, raucous tailgating parties, and endless amounts of burgers, hot dogs, ribs, junk food, and beer. And perhaps this is why the idea of opening an upscale farm-to-table bistro and wine bar such as Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro literally next to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro seemed like a bit of a head-scratcher to me. But indeed, the demographics of fans going to Patriots games has changed greatly since the new stadium was built, with more and more businesspeople and wealthy folks heading to games, so the thought of having this kind of spot here might not be so odd after all. Either way, it would be all for naught, of course, if the food were just average at such a place, but based on a recent meal that a group of us had at Tastings a few days ago, this doesn't seem to be much of an issue at all.
Even though it is located in an open-air shopping center next to a football stadium, the interior of Tastings feels a bit like a rustic eatery located within a winery in the middle of the country. The relatively small space makes use of lots of dark woods, with a shiny wooden floor, a beamed ceiling, some exposed brick, and attractive hanging lights all adding to the cozy and romantic atmosphere. A small bar sits off to the left while the main dining area includes a handful of tables, with some bench seating available along the back wall.
Our first glance at the Tastings menu was a bit of an eye-opener, as the prices were relatively high, especially considering that, again, we were right next to a football stadium. The prix fixe five-course dinner with wine pairings, for instance, was a whopping $79 per person, while the dinner without wine still came to $59. None of us chose the five-course dinner, instead going with a variety of small plates and main courses. And for the most part, the food was exceptional at Tastings, with the sublime sunchoke soup being perhaps the highlight of the entire meal, being served with a drizzle of pistachio oil on top, carmelized shallots mixed in, and some bits of brussels sprouts that added just a hint of bitterness to it all. Nearly as good was the macaroni and cheese (which comes as a small plate, though they allowed us to order it as a main course); the mix of cheeses was delicious, but what put this dish over the top was the fact that shaved truffles were actually part of the dish, adding an extraordinary dimension to the plate that really can't be overstated. A few other dishes that stood out included the thick and meaty burger (with handcut fries) that came with a thick slab of pork belly that almost had the texture of brisket but definitely tasted like bacon; the tagliatelle, which had an egg on top that added a rich dimension to the dish; pork chops that were cooked perfectly and were almost all meat; and a marvelous free-range chicken that was skillet-roasted. The calamari was less impressive, as some of the pieces were rubbery (though the tarragon pesto added some nice flavor), and a vodka and soda drink that was served just didn't taste "right" and had to be returned for a new drink. Speaking of drinks, we had some good ones at Tastings, though none of us really delved too deeply into their extensive wine list (that will have to be for the next time). We ended with a dessert plate that included random treats, including ice cream, a few chocolate-based items, creme brulee, and pieces of blood orange. Service was nearly flawless, as our waiter was friendly and helpful from start to finish.
While Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro isn't the type of place I would go to every week (it is much too expensive for that), it is a spot that I wish I could go to often, as everything about it impresses, from the food to the atmosphere to the service. Indeed, it seems like a bit of an oasis from the sometimes-hectic pace of the immediate area (especially when the Pats are in town), and while it may seem a bit strange to enjoy a beautifully-presented farm-to-table meal at a classy spot while 400-pound athletes are smashing into each other a few hundred feet away, it all somehow works. A big thumbs-up definitely has to be given for this place.
If you want the address for Tastings, here it is: Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro, 201 Patriot Place, Foxboro, MA, 02035.
Yes the food, atmosphere and service were very well represented.
Posted on 3/30/12
I agree. I think everyone was happy with their choices and all and all a thumbs up from the bumpkins from Alabami.
Posted on 3/30/12
400 pound athletes?
Posted on 4/3/12
A hidden secret I hate to share about tastings is their patio during concerts. From the patio you can clearly hear the performers as though you were inside the stadium. We paid 300 a seat for a concert and actually left after only 3 songs to get away from the crowds and relax at tastings.
Posted on 4/21/12
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