RESTAURANT REVIEW Top of the Hub: Restaurant Week
Extraordinary View, Ordinary Food
Top of the Hub
800 Boylston St #52
Prudential Center, Back Bay
(617) 536 1775
In many major cities, Restaurant Week serves as an annual or a biannual tradition. Two or three course meals at acclaimed restaurants in the city go for relatively inexpensive prices. I took advantage of this event by taking my girlfriend to the Top of the Hub, located on the 52nd floor of the Prudential Tower.
Doing some research, I found out that Top of the Hub is not known for haut cuisine, which tempered my expectations for the Three-Course Prix Fixe. However, the restaurant is regarded as being romantic and said to have a great dining atmosphere, which could lead to an enjoyable experience overall.
My party arrived a few minutes early, expecting a busy albeit Monday night. We were greeted by cozy mood lighting and a fantastic view of South Boston’s shoreline. The hostess quickly seated us to a table that was not next to the window, but we were still able to enjoy the scenery of the Boston skyline at dusk.
The Restaurant Week Menu looked intriguing but limited. I assumed that most restaurants prepared these dishes in bulk. Wanting to sample the entire selection, my girlfriend and I chose alternating items from the menu.
For the first course, I ordered arugula with cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, crispy red onions, and creamy tomatillo dressing. She had the Manhattan clam chowder. I’m not a big fan of Manhattan clam chowder because it is red and, in my opinion, not a real chowder, so I didn’t try the soup. Apparently, it tasted more like a vegetable soup, and my girlfriend was half expecting alphabet noodles. The salad was drizzled nicely with the tomatillo dressing, and the feta was savory. The fried onions were a bit oily and a little soggy, which supports my hypothesis that the dishes are prepared in bulk. Overall, the salad started the three-course meal well, causing me to anticipate the main entrée with eagerness.
Shortly after we finished the appetizers, the main course arrived with steaming food and artful presentation. My rigatoni was braised with veal breast ragout, porcini mushrooms and roasted garlic. The ragout was flavorful but over-seasoned and unsophisticated, reminiscent of a spicier, saltier version of Campbell’s soup. I had to gulp glasses of lemon-flavored water to prevent dehydration. The veal had the consistency of average sloppy joe meat, stringy and tough to chew. The porcini mushrooms, few and far between, tasted succulent. My girlfriend ordered the herb lemon roasted half chicken, accompanied by sweet potato purée, green beans, and fried sage, topped with cranberry jelly and chicken jus. The purée was an uncomplicated side dish with the consistency of apple sauce. The chicken, although breaded tastefully, was a bit overcooked, resulting in a slightly dry texture. The second course was filling, but too simple and seemingly sub-par for a reputed restaurant.
The dessert, as it turned out, was the weakest dish of the three. The blandness of the crème brulée took me aback and the cardboard consistency of the wafers in the vanilla mousse made a disappointing conclusion to the Prix Fixe. I ate the vanilla mousse reluctantly and couldn’t force myself the finish the crème brulee, leaving it half-eaten.
During the course of the dinner, I noticed other couples, young and old, and business events, adding to the stately atmosphere of the hall. This mood enhanced an otherwise mediocre meal. Despite the middling meal, the atmosphere and excitement of going to Top of the Hub made the experience all-in-all pleasant at best.