Back Bay Delights
French-style fare just this side of decadent
Deuxave’s interior has a well-ordered, modernist feel that belies a wildly enthusiastic reaction to its food.
The large space is clad in shades of dove gray and walnut brown, with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto Massachusetts Avenue, not far from the Harvard Club of Boston. Chandeliers and table candles make the plethora of stemware glitter, and all is warmed by a gas fireplace and the bottles of wine displayed as if in someone’s private cellar. It is an elegant, well-designed environment befitting once-in-a-lifetime celebrations, intimate dinners, or casual drinks with well-heeled friends at the marble-topped bar, open until 1 a.m.
Named for the two avenues on which it sits, Deuxave was opened last September by co-owners Christopher Coombs (the executive chef) and Brian Piccini, who opened dbar in Dorchester. And although the menu seems pretentious in spots, and uses some culinary terms unfamiliar to many diners, the mainly French-style food itself is not overly fussy--just exceptionally good.
Start with the Scituate lobster with juicy bites of gnocchi ($19), an unusual dish with an Asian tinge that combines mushrooms, curried walnuts, pearl onions, and green grapes in a delicate citrus sauce. Also outstanding is Nine-Hour French Onion Soup ($12), served with tantalizingly silky ribbons of onion, bobbing beef-marrow croutons, and a thick layer of bubbling Comté cheese, which lent a hint of sharpness.
Deuxave also offers internationally inspired entrées, ranging from the Italian tagliatelle “Bolognaise” with veal, beef, pancetta, and foie gras ($21) to the lighter roasted monkfish served with German spaetzle, Savoy cabbage, and Russian “borscht” sauce ($28).
We opted for the innovative Moroccan spiced lamb saddle ($29) and the New York strip beef ($39), which were equally terrific. The lamb was encrusted with parsley, garlic, and other herbs and then rolled in toasted pistachios--a luscious combination of gamey flavors, fresh greenery, and downright satisfying crunch. The meat came cooked in its natural juices, with sides of tangy tabbouleh, minted cucumber raita, and a mélange of baby carrots, beets, and turnips. The Black Angus steak, aged for four weeks and expertly cooked, was served atop a garlic soubise and Bordelaise sauce with bone marrow, alongside perfect goat-cheese-and-potato croquettes with an ideal crusty and velvety contrast, a tangle of slightly vinegary mushrooms, and sweet, colorful baby carrots.
Desserts at Deuxave are just as creative. Pastry chef Olivier Maillard takes the modest pumpkin and spins it into a wondrous plate of custard with an almond crust, accompanied by pumpkin-seed brittle, a mound of milk and ginger gelée, and glace of rum raisins and tonka bean, a South American legume with complex flavors of vanilla and cinnamon ($12). Or try the novel elderflower-yogurt mousse ($13), served with an ultra-airy sponge cake, a citrus mélange with fresh grapefruit and preserved bits of orange, lemon sorbet, and an alluring pomegranate foam. It’s a bit of haute cuisine, but not over the top. And this is the balance that makes Deuxave so appealing: its ambitions are satisfyingly delectable.