Three dark-green spoon-shaped leaves, each topped with a viscous bright orange dot, were carefully arranged on a rectangular plate, presented alongside a luscious yeasty 2010 sparkling Vouvray from the Loire Valley in France. These “Vegan Oysters,” as the menu at the Meritage Restaurant and Wine Bar Early Spring Foragers Dinner called them, were oyster leaf—a wild plant that grows near the seaside abundantly in Atlantic Canada and shockingly has the briny, creamy flavor of an actual oyster. The tiny amuse bouche, opening the multicourse meal, seemed pretty unassuming, but it was tricky and packed with flavor—each leaf was topped with a bright dot of mignonette—fun, whimsical, and delicious.
Chef de cuisine Keith Bombaugh
One could say that also describes the food philosophy of chef de cuisine Keith Bombaugh, who joined Meritage last fall, with a resume that includes opening Barbara Lynch’s Menton. Bombaugh most recently served as sous chef at Chicago’s much-acclaimed Alinea under Grant Achatz, who is well known for his provocative modernist cuisine. Now he is bringing that background to Meritage, collaborating with the restaurant’s founder, chef Daniel Bruce, to embrace the restaurant’s acclaimed commitment to pairing wine and food while infusing the menu with a more experiential approach.
The subdued dining room, tucked into the Boston Harbor Hotel, offers an ideal backdrop both for the beautiful food and the engaging harbor views. Newly promoted sommelier Ben Oram is up to the challenges of the cuisine, setting the chef’s “White Out”—a plate of white asparagus with enoki mushrooms wrapped with fluke crudo—with a funky sauvignon blanc from Alto Adige.
The restaurant’s philosophy hews carefully to the seasons—for the Foragers Dinner ramps and fiddleheads dressed a light meaty anglotti, while fava beans topped a duck breast and strawberries made an appearance in a fluffy dessert. The Forager’s Dinner was part of a series of special events—the next one, Burgundy Wine Dinner, will be on April 27. Watch Meritage’s website for tickets.
The restaurant offers a nightly tasting menu, as well as a la carte options, both of which shift frequently with what is fresh and delicious.
70 Rowes Wharf Boston, 617-439-3995, meritagetherestaurant.com