Beau and beaucoup but not outstanding
900 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02115
Monday-Thursday 4 p.m.–10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
by Arun Wongprommoon and Mindy Long
The journey to Rochambeau was a long one. The Tech was initially invited to a guest chef popup brunch, and we agreed to attend. When we arrived, however, we found an empty restaurant. A staff member, Tyler, came to greet us and informed us that the chef canceled at the last minute. Allegedly, there was not enough time for him to inform us of the change. Instead, he offered us some breakfast burritos and matcha latte. It turned out that because the chef was not present, Rochambeau was closed save for three employees, including Tyler. Clearly, they were very unprepared for this unexpected circumstance. Not unexpectedly by that point, the breakfast burrito was tiny and wrapped in tinfoil, barely comparable to even a store-bought burrito, and its taste matched its appearance. The matcha latte lacked both flavor and depth.
Rochambeau apologized for the incident later in the day and invited us back for lunch on a day of our choosing. We made the trip across the bridge once again the following afternoon and were greeted by Tyler to the scene of a wildly different Rochambeau than we saw the day before. We were seated on the second floor and admired the lively Art Deco decor.
For a beverage, we ordered a glass of NV Quady Orange Muscat, a vin doux or dessert wine. It was exactly what it sounds like: a sweeter taste, almost grape juice, with a very small kick of wine. The wine opened our appetite, so we were somewhat prepared for the flood of food that followed. Our first round, two plates of hors d’oeuvres, arrived quickly. Since Rochambeau is a French restaurant, we were compelled to order the escargot. The snails were chewy and buttery but not as flavorful as we expected. The bread served with it was hard and dry, prompting us to rate the Parisian classic a 3.5 out of 5. Our other appetizer was the basil avocado smash, essentially a fancier version of avocado toast with an egg we requested over hard. We also rated it a 3.5 out of 5. The lox was of good quality but we couldn't taste any basil in the dish. The avocado was not creamy and very salty. The bread was, once again, hard and dry. In short, the dish tasted like an average avocado toast for more than double its usual price point.
Then the entrées came, and they came big. Mindy ordered the steak frites, a medium rare filet mignon with sauce and garnish plus fries and ketchup. The cut was average and stringy. Overall, we gave the dish a 3 out of 5. Arun ordered the croque monsieur, a French classic. The bread of the croque monsieur made up for the other breads we had — it was buttery, soft, and toasted just right. The restaurant was very generous with the ham, which was rich and salty. We could count up to four layers of ham in the dish. The cheese did not stand out as much. What elevated the dish from being a glorified ham and cheese sandwich was the Béchamel sauce and garnish on top, which was a bit sour, glutinous, and stretchy. As for the fries, we were satisfied with the crispy and golden outside, and they were salty enough for our liking. We gave the croque monsieur a 4 out of 5.
Just as we were finishing our meal feeling stuffed, the restaurant surprised us with a complimentary soup, the french onion soup gratinée. In a characteristic brown ceramic pot, the stretchy burnt cheese oozed, making us hungry once again. Underneath the dairy layer laid an extremely rich base of soft meat and crispy croutons. We appreciated the presentation, but more importantly, the taste was near perfect. Our sample size of French onion soups is small, but we would say Rochambeau’s is the best either of us has had so far, so we rated it a 4.5 out of 5.
Even though we were beyond full by this point, we couldn’t miss dessert. We ordered the profiteroles to end our meal: cream puffs stuffed with vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate ganache. The dough that sandwiched the ice cream was rather dry, hard, and bland, but the vanilla ice cream and chocolate ganache were sensational. Dessert earned an average 3 out of 5.
Rochambeau offered us a taste of Boston French cuisine. As Mindy recently returned from a trip to France, our judgment may be harsh but is certainly honest. Rochambeau left more to be desired, considering their initial mishap and lack of quality ingredients, especially the bread, a staple of French cuisine. Be warned that Rochambeau will not be as kind to your wallet as your taste buds. Rochambeau is an above-average Boston restaurant but while it is beau and beaucoup, it should not top your list of restaurants to visit in Boston.