Each year the most glamorous restaurants in Boston open their doors to the commoners for a bi-annual event called Restaurant Week. Each March, and again in August, over 100 restaurants offer prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner encouraging patrons to try places that might otherwise feel a bit out of their league.
I for one, am a HUGE fan of restaurant week. I love trying new places, but especially when I can get dressed up and experience a place that normally seems out of reach.
Tonight I dined with two of my favorite ladies at Flora in Arlington. On Massachusetts Avenue, just before Arlington Center, Flora is located across the street from a restaurant I discovered with these same ladies during the last cycle of restaurant week called Ristorante Olivio.
Flora is inside of a building that looks as if it used to be a post office or a bank. It has incredibly high ceilings, enormous windows (almost floor to ceiling) and exquisite crown molding and other structural details.
The restaurant is decorated in earth tones: acorn brown, Fall leaf green, apple red, and mustard yellow. The space is split into two main dining areas (one which houses the bar) and additionally they have two private party rooms. Despite the square footage, the restaurant still feels warm and cozy.
Adding to the charm, the kitchen is open to the dining room, and you can watch the four chefs make your meal. Each of the men (in their 40s and 50s) were sporting great hats - a yellow Eddie Bauer hat, a blue Red Sox hat, a pale blue bucket hat, and what looked like a black and red surgeon's scrub cap. It was like Grumpy Old Men, gone culinary.
At the table, our waitress greeted us with a big smile and couldn't wait to tell us the specials. Any special could be substituted into the restaurant week menu (score!). We each started with a glass of wine, and then I ordered the organic green leaf salad, the butternut squash ravioli and the chocolate cloud cake.
While we waited the waitress brought a basket of bread that had two offerings - a squash bread (a citrus orange color) and a wheat/grain bread. Neither were particularly good. When my salad arrived it was nothing more than greens. Although the dressing was delicious, it was begging for a tomato or a sprinkling of feta or blue cheese. I was starting to panic that I had selected a dud for our bi-annual tradition! I also felt a bit embarrassed when I looked around the room and noticed our presence was bringing the average age down by about 15 years.
However, my faith was restored with the entrees. My butternut squash ravioli was a very generous portion. The ravioli was served with mushrooms (my favorite), peas, sliced almonds and parmesan cheese. Can you say yum? The girls had the spinach stuffed chicken and the daube of beef (a slow cooked pot roast). Everyone loved their main dish. Phew! Relief!
When it came time for dessert we had two chocolate cloud cakes and a macadamia nut pie delivered to the table. The chocolate cake was more like a light brownie. It was served with a drizzle of caramel sauce, fresh whipped cream, a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a mint leaf for garnish. It was quite delicious.
As the meal came to a close, I took out my camera for a photo opp (we always take a shot at our restaurant week dinners) and the hostess saw my camera and quickly scurried over to offer to take the shot for us. How nice! She even took two pictures, one full body, one close up (a girl after my own heart).
As I put on my coat and looked once more around the restaurant I thought how perfect it would be for a private party, or even a small wedding reception. With all the detailing, the beautiful colors and the friendly staff, I couldn't imagine it would be anything short of divine.
The next time your parents are in town, or you are looking for a quiet place to share a delicious meal, follow Mass Ave out of Boston, past Cambridge and into Arlington. Flora awaits you.