I think that sentence pretty much sums up my evening last night and you know what? I think every night should be like that (a visit from the Reverend optional, of course. He just happened to be sitting a couple tables over from us). Just stop for a moment to think about what this country would be like if we regularly took the time out of our hectic lives to really enjoy a good meal and eat it at snail's pace. I feel that we are all constantly on the go and almost programed to keep moving at lightening pace, we don't stop to truly savor a meal over an extended period of time. And that is a shame. It is so relaxing to fully savor a meal, thoughtfully chewing each bite and appreciating every ounce of it all.
I had received an invitation for an evening at Jer-Ne, located at the Ritz Carlton, right in the center of town. Jer-Ne is swanky. It's sleek and chic but friendly and inviting, all at the same time. With dark wood trim, comfortable seating, low lights and soft, yet upbeat music playing in the background, Jer-Ne is the perfect place to go if you'd like to feel like royalty for an evening. From the moment you walk in, it is made quite clear that you are the guest and your job is to enjoy the evening and the friendly staff is there to ensure that happens.
The menu itself is an interesting one. Playing off of several regions and influences (Italian, German, Brazilian, Moroccan, French, et...) it provides quite the variety. At the very start of our meal, we were introduced to Luis, who would be taking care of us for the night and that he did. He started by giving us a complete run down of the menu, describing in detail how each item tastes and pointing out his personal favorites. He was very knowledgeable of the menu. On his suggestion, we started with a course of ceviche and within a couple of minutes, we were presented with three little rectangular plates piled high with white fish, shrimp and octopus. Surprisingly enough, I really enjoyed the octopus (it had a light coating of chili oil on it) and the white fish (so light with the fresh taste of citrus and a hint of coconut).
After the first course, we all enjoyed a course of salads. My friend Oona, her cousin Alan and I enjoyed the watermelon feta salad. It was beautiful a presentation, a bed of bright watermelon topped by fresh arugula and dollops of salty feta and sweet fig jam. Oona's husband, Andy, opted for the asparagus and shitake mushroom salad. It was a beautiful little haystack of fresh vegetables. He graciously offered me a taste. It was a delicious little salad with an Asian flair.
After the salad course, the main meal arrived. Oona and Alan enjoyed the rib eye steak that was paired with a baked potato. The steak was so tender, both declined the offer for a steak knife and simply used a butter knife to easily slice through the meat. Andy selected the roasted halibut that was a beautiful presentation of corn with a fresh piece of halibut resting on top. The dish was finished with by streak of chimichurri. I enjoyed one of their tasty little flatbreads, which was a thin crust topped by tender pulled chicken meat, apricots and a mint yogurt sauce. The flavors were fantastic and I loved how well the sweetness of the apricots contrasted against the tangyness of the yogurt sauce. It was very flavorful.
Last, but certainly not least, we were presented with a sampling of their dessert menu. Everything was dangerously good with just a little flare of something unique. We enjoyed bites of German cheesecake, warm molten lava cake, panna cotta, banana cream pie, deep chocolate pudding, a lemon caramel parfait and wedges of cherry kuchen. While they all were fantastic in their own way, my favorite was the panna cotta. It was cool and creamy, laced with vanilla beans and garnished with mandarin orange slices. Yum, yum yum.
At the conclusion of the meal, I was given an exclusive tour of kitchen and pastry room. What surprised me most was how small the kitchen actually is. (I guess I'm not the only one with a Small Boston Kitchen!) The other thing that surprised me was that the kitchen staff actually took the time to stop what they were doing to smile and say hello. And man, were they busy! They were hustling back and forth preparing dishes for not only the restaurant, but for a wedding as well and they still made the effort to make me feel welcome.
Thanks to the staff at the Jer-Ne and the Ritz Carlton. Especially Luis, our server (be sure to ask for him when you go!). He was awesome. And very special thanks to Andy, Oona and Alan for such a wonderful, fun and fantastic evening!