bean town, parting notes

It’s been at least a month since I was in Boston, so I need to wrap things up about the trip. Case in point, my dinner at Radius. First off, let’s just say it was one of the best meals of my life. I managed to get there just about a week after chef Patrick Connolly won the Beard Best Chef Northeast Award, but the funny and almost bizarre part of the story is that Connolly is no longer the chef at Radius. He left about a week after I was there and is headed to NYC. Boston’s loss is NYC’s gain. Really, this guy is amazing. Yes, I have to admit that even though we ordered a market tasting menu, I had some connections at Radius, and they really went the extra mile. It’s not a cheap restaurant any way you look at it, but they took special care of us. Connolly is a gifted chef and absolutely deserved that award. His preparations are exquisite, but not as grounded in fussy French cooking as you see in a lot of New York’s highest-end restaurants. That means real people can understand the food a little better. A dish might be Asian-inspired, for example, but in a subtle way. Textures are extraordinary. He works magic with fish. Let me say this to whoever hires Connolly in NYC — give him a lot of freedom. For example, I wouldn’t want to see him working for Daniel Boulud on the Upper East Side and being forced into a set of culinary expectations. Give this chef room to keep growing. And Patrick, I hope to see you again soon. P.S. The wine pairings at Radius were stunning.

Before I finish up with Boston, I have to mention this great little chocolate shop, Aroa. It’s in the South End about a block away from Flour Bakery, and it’s apparently still pretty new. Joanne Chang suggested I check it out, and I’m glad she did. (Thanks again, Joanne.) I guess every city has a cute little place like this doing really sophisticated chocolates, sort of like Sucre in New Orleans.

It’s impossible to read the names of the chocolates in the case in that photo, but there were flavors like Stout Beer, Port, and Passionfruit. I was a little stuffed on Joanne’s sticky buns, so I took some chocolates to go. Just spectacular. If you live in Boston in haven’t been to Aroa yet, you’re missing out.

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