Boston isn’t necessarily on the global map for French food or on your average American’s radar for French food, however a great discovery if you love French food for your next trip to Boston is Brasserie JO, located in the Colonnade Hotel on Huntington Avenue. The food is authentically French and the wine menu is a grade above most restaurants in the same category I’ve experienced over the years in other major American cities.
They offer oysters on the half shell, clams, mussels, shrimp, and a crab remoulade for appetizers for those purely interested in seafood. They also have smoked salmon and New England’s infamous creamy clam chowder. I, of course, had to start with a half dozen oysters.
We paired this thanks to their wine expert’s great recommendation, with the Muscadet Vouvray Jouly. The oysters were alongside their very French Chateau La Touche, sweet bread which frankly was so delicious I’m still thinking of it weeks later. They served it with parsley and tomatoes – go there for the sweet bread alone and you won’t be disappointed.
For those who want an authentic French experience and aren’t weary of calories or fat, go for the foie gras mousse, the charcuterie plate (yum!), the ever so classic roasted bone marrow with a mustard crust, country pate, the onion tarte, the steak tartare, or the crispy cauliflower with a delicious dill yogurt sauce. Also on the menu is the escargot with garlic butter and the more unique white bean and sausage soup from Toulouse for those who want to experience a little of the country.
On the lighter side, they have a variety of salads — my favorite was the roasted beet salad with hazelnuts and goat cheese. (Note that they use white beets – t’was a special treat!)
I loved the menu!! They had so many fun and creative dishes that I’ve not even seen on menus in Paris at traditional brasseries — from a classic Parisian steak with fries to a pan seared filet served with pommes boulangere and asparagus. On Wednesdays, their special “plat du jour” is Liver & Onions served with potato puree and on Sunday, also worth noting, you can get a double thick bone-in pork loin with a potato puree, apples and a Calvados reduction. (be sure to read about our tour of Calvados in Normandy on our early September trip to France).
You won’t get bored with their specialty selection, which includes Grilled Lemon Chicken, Coq Au Vin, Duck Confit with Braised Lentils, Duck a L’Orange with braised red cabbage, and a burger with duck and foie sausage and duck egg. All of it was delicious — we were particularly impressed with their attention to detail in each and every case, from the wine pairing to the recommendations of appetizer, salad and main course dishes.
With our meat dishes, we had the T-Vine Zinfandel from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, a bottle we’d clearly get off the shelf for pairing with dishes we cook at home. The balance was rich, bold but smooth and lovely all at the same time. We also tasted their Chateau La Patache Bordeaux and their Chateanuef du Pape (Chateau Beauchene), both of which are available by the glass and the bottle.
Clearly they didn’t want us to leave hungry, which is an understatement. All of the desserts are oh so very French, from profiteroles with chocolate sauce, petite Belgian waffles with chocolate hazelnut ice cream and salted caramel, or traditional sweet crepes with banana and caramel, strawberry cream or the classic Suzette.
There’s also chocolate mousse and alsache brioche bread pudding and our favorite, the lemon tarte with berry compote (shown below), mainly because at that juncture in the meal after our heavier dishes earlier in the evening, the tarte was a lighter option and its flavors were perfectly blended throughout. We loved the combo!
The chefs behind these scrumptious delights are Chef J. Joho and Nicholas Calias. For a little accolade love, it’s worth noting that Joho was named the James Beard Foundation’s “Best American Chef: Midwest,” and nominated for Best Outstanding Restaurant,” and was Bon Appetit’s “Best Chef of the Year.” His French influence came from as far back as age 13 when he worked as an apprentice for Paul Haeberlin of the acclaimed L’Auberge de L’Ill in Alsace, France, and continued in kitchens in France, Italy and Switzerland. A great quote to sum up Nick’s passion for cooking: “Chef Nick is passionate about everything he does. He is as meticulous with an elaborate cheese display as he is with the ingredients he selects to accompany a succulent filet mignon.” G. Greene
Two thumbs up! On your next trip to Boston, put Brasserie Jo’s on your restaurant list! It’s not necessarily on the well known path, so be sure to check it out.
Brasserie Jo’s Restaurant
120 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
Note: we were hosted by the restaurant by all opinions are freeform and clearly our own.