My crush on Boston boy wonder Will Gilson is no secret. I was a huge fan of Garden at the Cellar, I took my entire family to his takeover at Adrian's in Truro on the Cape, so naturally I had to plan a big night out to try his new restaurant, Puritan & Company.
The restaurant gets its name from the former use of the building, which was the Puritan Cake Company in the early 1900s. In another homage to that heritage, the hostess stand is actually an old fashioned oven.
The L shaped bar is the first thing you see when you walk into the space. The bar is split between patrons who are just enjoying cocktails, wine and beer and those having a drink while they wait for a table.
The dining room has a Restoration Hardware feel to it. The tables are a natural blond wood while the light fixtures are dark and industrial.
The dining room is completely open, all the way to the prep bar and kitchen. I have to say, Puritan & Company feels like a Manhattan restaurant. It has that bustling, energetic vibe that you always feel in New York, but rarely feel in Boston.
We were seated at a communal table (which I have to admit, I kind of hate). As soon as we took our seats I noticed the funky chandelier above our table made from glass jars.
The Puritan & Company menus comes in a light brown folder with the restaurant's name stamped across the front in red. It was like being handed top secret files.
I have to admit, I was unfamiliar with many of the ingredients and cooking preparations, which made the menu feel inaccessible. This is coming from a girl who reads a new menu every night. I think I'm a very seasoned diner and if I wasn't, I be intimidated by this menu.
The wine, beer and cocktail offerings at Puritan are excellent. I selected a lovely glass of rose.
To begin, every table is presented with a plate of rolls. I kid you not when I say these rolls are hands down the best part of the Puritan experience.
Each roll was warm and lightly salted on the top. They had a consistency similar to a popover. There are places people go just for the bread (i.e. Not Your Average Joe's) and these rolls certainly add Puritan to that list.
Next up we sampled the cauliflower soup, served very cleverly in an olive green cup and saucer.
On its own the soup was creamy and flavorful, but when you sent a piece of a roll swimming in there, it was total perfection.
Adding to our carbo loading, we also sampled the gougeres. This is a prime example of a word on the menu we didn't know and had to ask about. Basically, gougeres are like biscuits and this variety was bursting with cheese and rosemary.
Two of the ladies at dinner decided to sample the grilled oysters. The oysters were enormous and you could see the char marks from the grill.
They raved about the freshness of the oysters and complimented the smoky flavor.
In the entree round, two friends ordered the wood-roated muscovy duck. As a vegetarian, few things bother me, but I do find the idea of duck completely revolting.
The friends that ordered the duck both agreed that the preparation was too rare. The duck came with quinoa which they said tasted alright. They did enjoy the thyme and mushroom flavors.
Towards the end of our main course, our waitress noticed that one of the duck orderers really didn't even eat half of her plate (again, because it was too rare for her taste) and she asked if everything was ok with the dish. My friend honestly answered, "I know this a beautiful preparation, but it was just too rare for me personally." Our waitress scurried to the kitchen and came right back saying, "Thank you for telling me, we've taken it off the bill." Wow, talk about customer service!
Two of the ladies selected the flounder. Each piece of fish was folded into a rose shape. Both girls were very surprised by the presentation of the accompaniments. One girl said, "The dish said it came with spinach and potato, so I was expecting those as sides, but they actually came as puree. The onions were the only solid on the plate. I was expecting something heartier."
The second flounder orderer shared, "Despite the surprising presentation, the fish was cooked very well. It was flaky and moist."
Since there is no vegetarian entree at Puritan, I put together a few dishes to create one big meal, starting with the broccoli salad.
The dressing for this dish was actually on the bottom, as opposed to drizzled over the top. You had to be sure to twirl each spear through the dressing first before taking a bite. The broccoli was topped with paper thin croutons that added a nice hint of crunch to the dish.
I also ordered the toasted barley risotto. Sadly, I wasn't a fan of this dish at all. I took two bites before pushing it to the center of the table to share with my friends. Though the dish wasn't for me, they all loved it and made it disappear.
Lastly, one of the girls and I shared a side order of the carrots and they were fantastic! This was one of my favorite dishes all night. My friend hit the nail on the head when she said, "If you can make something simple like a carrot sexy, then you are a master."
Despite a tremendously filling first three rounds, you know I had to have dessert. We decided to go for broke and just try everything that appealed to us.
This is the rum cake, topped with ice cream and garnished with bananas.
The Toll House cookie sundae is a literal block of cookie dough, coated in chocolate, topped with cherry and served in a sea of milk. It's outstanding.
The chocolate cake with caramel frozen yogurt was rich, but couldn't compare to the wow factor of the cookie dough.
The last dessert, a gift from the chef, was a lemon curd. I am not normally into fruit dessert (as you all know), but this was actually quite tasty.
Will never did dessert at Garden at the Cellar and I was super disappointed in the desserts at Adrian's, but these desserts were a dramatic improvement. Bravo to chef Will and team!
When the check arrived it came within a recipe card. I love these kinds of small touches, it really gives a place character.
Overall, our experience at Puritan & Company was a great one. I love the Manhattan vibe of the space. The touches like the old fashioned oven, the menu in a branded folder and the recipe card all give Puritan a distinct personality.
The service we received was exceptional. Our waitress helped us decode many of the menu items, she checked on us regularly, our water glasses were constantly being refilled and she genuinely thanked us as we were leaving. A+ on the staff.
As for the food, it was a mixed bag. While the rolls, cauliflower soup and carrots were spectacular, those were all very small plates (one that's a free starter!). The duck was too rare, the flounder plate felt over advertised and I was underwhelmed by the barley risotto.
The meal was certainly redeemed by the dessert course and we all agreed the Toll House sundae is the must-order dish.
Congratulations to chef Will on this new solo venture! We will certainly be back.
I'm curious, have you been to Puritan & Company? What was your favorite dish?