Restaurant Review: Estragon, South End

The Tortilla Espanol
The other night I dined at Estragon in the South End. It was close to 9:30 and there was still about a 10 minute wait for a table. Usually this is a good indicator of what's to come but unfortunately on this evening, this wasn't the case. We were starving and after being seated, we quickly ordered 4 different items from various sections of the menu. It wasn't long before our food started to arrive and the Tortilla Espanol ($5.50) was the first to meet the end of my fork. Swimming in a puddle of aioli and served with a chill, the dense potato slices were the main attraction and the eggs were simply the glue that held them all together. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a snob when it comes to Spanish food and maybe I hold the bar a little too high, but these were a far cry from a real Spanish tortilla where there's more eggs and it has a lightness to it made richer with olive oil.

Croquetas de Jamon
The next to arrive were the Croquetas de Jamon ($10). Advertised as having a Serano ham filling, the golden exteriors revealed an unpleasant pasty interior where I had to hunt for minuscule bits of ham, that once found, offered little flavor anyway - a total fail. Next to arrive at our table was the Flamenquines ($11) which are four rolled, little sticks of fried pork, Serano ham and Manchego cheese that tasted like an under seasoned chicken cordon bleu (only with pork). It was served along with a wedge of lemon and a sauce that tasted of tomato paste, water and a just a hint of hot paprika. While the Flamenquines were fried well, they would have benefited greatly from a a couple of pinches of salt after being fried.

The biggest disappointment of the evening was the Vegetable Paella ($22). The vegetables were grossly overcooked and almost grey in color. Additionally, they were not prepared properly and somehow the woody stems of the asparagus had made their way to our plate. The Paella rice was under-cooked and over-salted, not to mention missing that coveted crusty bottom that is so desirable. 

Vegetable Paella
To add insult to injury, while our waiter was clearing almost full plates from our table, and when declining to have the food wrapped to go, he never questioned us on how our meal was or asked if we were satisfied. Instead, we were given a smile and the check. After a meal like this, I couldn't help but feel duped and brimming with a lot of questions. How could the kitchen send food out like that? How could the waiter not ask us why we weren't eating? Was this just an "off" night or is this how the food is prepared? And if it was in fact an "off" night, is that acceptable when the customer is paying a pretty heavy price for the experience? While I can appreciate that it is difficult  to execute every dish with perfection, however, we ordered four different dishes and were disappointed by all. An evening similar to this happens every so often and it's frustrating. Where are the standards? 

Estragon on Urbanspoon


Daisy said...

The Tortilla Espanol looks like nothing I had in Spain. And you should totally be able to see the ham in those $10 croquetas. Sorry you had such a disappointing meal.

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I've never been to Estragon but have actually heard good things about it, it's a bummer you had a bad experience. Those greasy croquetas look pretty disappointing :( Hopefully it was just an off night!

Anonymous said...

I've been similarly disappointed at Estragon and would rather spend my tapas-going money at Toro any night of the week. It is a shame that the waiter never questioned you about the dishes, but perhaps you should have spoken up? Better to say something without being prompted than pay the bill for terrible food in angry silence.

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Usually I agree and would speak up and maybe I'm at fault for staying silent but I wasn't hunting for a free meal and I wanted to see if they would ask.

One Food Guy said...

The tortilla espanola looks pretty unappetizing. This dish is like the omelet at a sushi bar...it's an indicator of what's to come. Good omelet, good sushi. Good tortilla espanola, good tapas.

What a disappointing meal. Toro is still my favorite with Dali and Tapeo distant second and third. I'm always blown away at Toro.


So sorry to hear you had such a terrible experience! I haven't been to Estragon, but I studied abroad for a year in Cordoba, Spain so I too hold tapas to a high standard. I love the tapas at Tres Gatos in JP. Have you been?

Rainy Daisy said...

Wow. Well that is deeply disappointing. I had a similar experience and vowed to cook all my own food for the next year rather than pay that again. But then, I can't make my own sushi, so that went out the window very quickly....

I like your blog :)

Mike said...

We ate there one steamy night last summer. Fun drinks at the bar (the only place there was to sit) and I remember a few good dishes, including the wood grilled baby octopus. But your picture of the croquetas reminded me of that not-so-appetizing dish. Wonder how it's still on the menu? In contrast, everything I've ever had at Toro has been AMAZING!

Elina (Healthy and Sane) said...

I reviewed this place a little over 2 years ago and overall we liked it. I thought some of the food was a little too heavy but the flavors were good. And after reading my own review, apparently the chocolate cake is worth coming back for. Hopefully they still have it on the menu. My parents went there last month (I think) and really loved it. I'll say it was an off-night!
Here is my review btw: http://blog.healthyandsane.com/2009/11/friday-night-at-estragon-restaurant-review/

Jannah Delfin said...

I appreciate all of the information that you have shared. Thank you for the hard work!
The next time you are looking for a place to enjoy an evening out, stop by Justine’s Table. We’re the best restaurant natick ma and the surrounding areas!

What's Hot From The Small Boston Kitchen