Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dining Out: Trade

Back in March 2010 I took my first trip to Rialto in Harvard Square as part of Restaurant Week. On that trip I fell in love with the restaurant, its food and drink and owner/chef Jody Adams. For the last several weeks I have been reading about chef Jody's newest venture, Trade. Trade is located at the corner of Atlantic Ave and Congress Street, in a part of town that is at the center of the Financial District, Seaport District and South Boston.

A few days in advance of our dinner, I made a reservation through Trade's website. As of right now, they are not on Open Table, which I must admit, I found surprising. Open Table is my go-to for reservations. If I were a restaurant owner, my first order of business would be to guarantee my place was up on Open Table.

The only available reservations for Friday night were 5:45pm or 9:45pm. We decided on the earlier time, hoping we could relax and slowly enjoy our meal.

Friday night we walked from Government Center to Trade. As you approach the restaurant, you can recognize it by its yellow stripes on the glass.

The entrance to the restaurant is beneath a beautiful, stone canopy.

When we opened the front doors the bar and lounge area were packed! Standing room! The hostess pulled up our reservation right away and took us to a table in the front window.

The tables and chairs at Trade are a rustic looking wood, which is juxtaposed with the white, industrial columns.

Each table has a small, green plant and a single votive candle for decoration.

Our waiter (who was covered in tattoos and piercings) came over to walk us through the three menus.

We decided to split a bottle of wine, the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. It was delicious and our waiter brought an ice bucket to our table to keep it chilled.

All of the starters on the menu looked incredible, so we asked for our waiter's advice on the must-haves. We started with the avocado served with a mango, tamarind, peanut chutney. I will order anything with avocado, so this was a natural choice. The avocado was fresh and the peanut chutney was exactly the right amount of nutty flavor. It actually tasted like a Thai dish. I loved it!

Next we split the arugula salad which had a generous portion of fresh parmesan cheese and was dressed with lemon and olive oil.

The last starter was fried dough with prosciutto, anchovies and parmesan. I did not partake in this one, but my dinner date loved it. She said it was one of the best things she had ever tasted.

For dinner we decided to split two flatbread pizzas. From any seat in the restaurant you can see the pizza oven, which is a cool design decision. The first one we selected had mushroom, fig, gorgonzola, sage pesto and walnuts. When this one arrived, I thought the garnish looked like seaweed, which was unappetizing. The flavors however were excellent. Figs are my new thing, it's official.

Next we dove into the four cheese flatbread with slow braised tomatoes, basil and arugula. This was a pretty traditional flavor profile, but the choice of cheeses was outstanding. Every bite was creamy and delicious.

Our waiter returned to ask if we'd like to see the dessert menu. Duh. Unfortunately there wasn't a single dessert that appealed to me. Our waiter did a hard sell on the apple crostada (I hate fruit dessert), but we decided to give it a go.

The apple crostada arrived in the most stunning presentation and I must admit, that stripe of caramel looked pretty awesome, but even that garnish couldn't save the dish. My dinner date said she adored it and would happily order it again. Not me.

By the time we finished our dessert and our wine, we had been at our table for three hours. Despite a completely packed house, our waiter never once rushed us, which is a true luxury. This did not go unnoticed.

While in the restaurant I also noticed they have a beautiful private party room. It's separated from the dining room only by glass walls, so you're still part of the action.

While seated I also noticed the gorgeous light fixtures above the bar. My photo doesn't do these justice, they are stunning.

After settling the bill and weaving through the tables back toward the door, I thought I noticed Jody Adams herself at the hostess stand. I did a double take and when I was sure it was her, I turned right back around and tapped her on the shoulder. I said, "Jody, my name is Molly Galler and I love Rialto. As soon as I heard about this new venture, I knew I had to come. I want you to know I think the place is beautiful and everything we ate was exceptional. You should be really proud and I wish you and the team the best of luck." Then she shook my hand and said, "Thank you so much. That is so nice to hear and I will be sure to share your kind words with the whole kitchen staff." How nice is that? Not only is she a culinary genius, she's humble! For me, this was a true celebrity sighting. On the walk home I kept saying "I can't believe I just met and touched Jody Adams!"

If you are a fan of Rialto, you already know how great chef Jody's cooking is. You also know she has a great eye for design. Trade is everything you know and love about Rialto with a more global menu, in a stellar location and with a chic, downtown feel. Visit Trade at 540 Congress Street.

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