Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Hidden Beacon Hill

Nestled in the basement of 37 Bowdoin Street, on the north slope of Beacon Hill, is a restaurant named Grotto. Yr humble correspondent has for a while now desired to write up a review of this adorable & obscure establishment, for truly it is one of his favorite places to dine.

Descend into fine dining, if you dare.

Oft-overlooked due to its small size and somewhat out-of-the-way location, Grotto is one of those "local secrets" that make neighborhoods in Boston feel so distinctly Old World. One could be an old hand at the labyrinth of Beacon Hill's hidden gardens & alleyways & still overlook Grotto, which is indeed most unfortunate for the place is decidedly fabulous.

One enters Grotto by descending a set of stone steps into the basement of an otherwise nondescript apartment building. Inside, one is confronted with a warm and comfortable environment, designed in a sort of Bohemian theme, with plenty of mirrors & artwork (all done by local artists, of course) & swaths of silk hanging from the ceiling & over the windows. The whole place is bathed in red, from the exposed piping to the ambient lighting, but is well-balanced so as to not seem too extravagent or over-the-top. Cute accents, such red daisies at each table and dessert menus wrapped up like scrolls, complete the feel of the place & make one forget they are half underground.

The desserts are worth trying if only for presentation.

Grotto is open for both lunch and dinner (closing for a few hours between the two) & is a bit expensive, though well worth the price. A full dinner for two, with drinks, generally costs between $80 and a $100, while lunch can range anywhere from $40 to $60. Again, yr humble correspondent cannot stress enough that the experience is well worth the bill, for, in addition to the lovely atmosphere, the food is delicious, unique, prompt in arrival and served in good portions. The cocktails are reasonably priced, and are all masterfully mixed. In addition, one is almost gauranteed a quiet experience, as Grotto is hardly ever busy & is capable of seating only about a two dozen guests.

The service is more-or-less impeccable. Never once has yr humble correspondet had a negative waitstaff experience at Grotto. Everyone is unfailingly polite, readily at beck & call without seeming overbearing & friendly without seeming superficial or forced.

Again, yr humble correspondent cannot recommend Grotto enough & must insist every one of his dear readers take someone special there this spring or summmer. It is a quick jaunt from the Park Street, Bowdoin or Government Center T Stations, making it ideal for an after-work rendevouz or a Friday night date.

You'd hardly even notice it was there.

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