In my ongoing attempts to broaden my dining horizons beyond my front door, I was tempting by an email from my friend, Erika to join our other friends, Nancy and Elisabeth to do Restaurant Week at Sandrine’s Bistro in Harvard Square.  Actually, my first thought was “ugh Harvard Square on a Tuesday night”, but I immediately squashed that thought and made it “Sandrine’s in Harvard Square on a Tuesday night – woo hoo.”  It totally worked.  

I don’t know what my problem is with going over to Cambridgebecause every single time I have visited a restaurant there, I have not been disappointed and this trip was no different.

I have not been to Sandrine’s in about 10 years and after looking online at the Restaurant Week menu I was starting to look forward to my revisit.  I picked up Nancyin Beacon Hill and we took the rush hour drive over to meet our friends.  Luckily I was in a good mood as I drove around Harvard Square 20 times looking for parking! 

Looking at Sandrine’s from the street made me smile.  Large open windows with diners looking out at the foot traffic of Holyoak Street.  I was hoping we had a window view.  Sadly, we were escorted to a table right at the back of this lovely, warm and cozy bistro to a corner table.  It turns out there was nothing sad about where we sat at all.  It turned out perfect.

 “Sandrine’s is contemporary and classic French cuisine – often with an accent on Alsace.”  They have a nice sized open restaurant that is not to big or small but still very cozy and somewhat romantic if the need ever arises.  A small bar with wrought iron back seats and an enviable window view to the street and hints of France everywhere.  I noticed they also have a private dining room downstairs.

Our French-accented waiter greeted us with a smile and follow up words like “tres bien” and “D’accord” every time we spoke to him.  For some reason, it made us smile each time.  He was attentive, thoughtful and friendly throughout our whole evening.

I decided to stay on the Restaurant Week menu for my choices, as did Nancy and Elisabeth.  In fact, we all decided on the same starter and entrée of Tomato Salade and the Pan Seared Peking Duck Breast.

Tomato Salade –
Diced red onions, feta goat cheese, basil vinaigrette

 

The Tomato Salade arrived and I noticed immediately it was smothered in vinaigrette, which turned out to be the most amazing vinaigrette I think I have tasted.  I know very well if there was no-one around I may have licked my plate.  Instead I chose to mop up the goodness with French crusty bread, which was delivered earlier.  Sweet tomatoes worked well with the sharpness of red onions and creaminess of feta.  This is a winning and simple dish. 

I have to say when Erika’s starter arrived of Apple & Gorgonzola Salade, I was having a little bit of food envy.  It looked gorgeous!  A large bowl of fresh ingredients sprinkled with strong gorgonzola and a bite of almonds.  I was of course extremely happy with my starter.

Apple & Gorgonzola Salade –
Mesclun greens, spicy almonds, Port wine vinaigrette – $12

 

Onto our entrée.  As soon as the plate of Seared Peking Duck arrived and was placed in front of all three of us, my mouth started to water.  The aroma was wonderful.   Cooked medium rare and perfectly pink, the duck was fantastic.  Placed atop crunchy, earthy tasting risotto, I again, could not have been happier with my choice.  I know my friends agreed given their completely devoured plates.

Pan Seared Peking Duck Breast –
Mixed vegetable risotto, Melfor honey herb basil vinegar reduction

 

Erika opted for the Pan Seared Curry Encrusted Salmon Filet, which was so beautifully presented it was hard to take your eyes off it.  To quote Erika… “the salmon was cooked perfectly, the curry was just enough so as not to take away from the flavor of the fish.  The vegetables complimented the dish perfectly and the potatoes had just a hint of salt and were creamy on the inside.”

Pan Seared Curry Encrusted Salmon Filet –
Sautéed green beans, citrus vinaigrette

 

Time for dessert.  Three orders of the La Profiterole Glacée and one of the Chocolate Raspberry Crème Brulee, which was for me.

There was silence for quite some time while my dining friends enjoyed their Profiteroles.  I can only say it appeared to be good given that each one again completely cleared their plates.  To quote Elisabeth… “The dessert was sublime.  I will continue to fantasize about the cararmelized bananas for years to come.”

La Profiterole Glacée –
Vanilla ice cream, caramelized bananas, caramel sauce

 

My Crème Brulee was perfect with a sliver of crispness and a wonderful, oozing goodness of custard underneath that I didn’t want to end.   Such decadence for a Tuesday evening, I almost felt guilty.

Chocolate Raspberry Crème Brulee

 

If our Restaurant Week dinner is anything to go by, Sandrine’s definitively still has that “je ne se qua” and I will be back for more.

I think for a few years Restaurant Week was going downhill and people were becoming resentful of slightly inferior offerings at high-end restaurants that they may not be able to otherwise dine at.  I truly believe this has all now changed and the menus I am seeing are just as good, even better sometimes than their regular menus.  I am once again a fan of Restaurant Week.