Friday night at Estragon – restaurant review

Another great Friday night out! It is a night my husband and I look forward to the most all week, and it came even faster this week since our date night at Giacomo’s on Tuesday. Yay :) Since we did end up having 2 sit down dinners out this week, we wanted to keep the budget in check. This is where our little collection of Groupons came in handy 😉 About a month ago, I purchased a $30 gift certificate to Estragon for $15. It was time to put that gift certificate to use!

We heard mixed reviews about Estragon. The location is definitely not great – it’s on a street with minimal through traffic, with most of the action in the South End happening on Tremont st and some parts of Columbus and Washington. We heard the restaurant is often deserted despite decent food and were hoping that Friday night would bring it to life. I have to say, the place was definitely packed and was buzzing with excitement when we arrived around 8:30!

The vibe was really fun… it was dark, yet inviting. Almost like a fancy dungeon, with a goth-like appeal (not in a weird way… it works!). And as mentioned, there were people everywhere, all seemingly having a great time, enjoying their food and drinks. Estragon is a tapas restaurant, so I think the experience of sharing makes people even closer. If you’re looking for a quiet dinner, this isn’t the place (at least on a Friday night)… for the first half hour (at least) we were basically yelling at each other despite being seated at a small table. It’s ok, we had quite the night (our car was towed for street cleaning, $180 later we were ready to eat and after parking right in front of the restaurant realized we forgot the groupon and had to drive back home, but I digress…) so the high energy and a stiff drink helped transform us into a better, happier place 😆

I started with a glass of the 2005 Rioja Vega, which I read online was a great wine (I like it a lot although it was pricey). Adam had 2 cocktails throughout the night, which he thought were cleverly crafted and perfectly executed!

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And then the crusty bread came out with carrots, blanched, then marinaded in garlic, shallots, thyme, cumin + some other spices I can’t remember… and roasted. The shallots scared me away so I didn’t take a proper pic, but then I tasted a few and really enjoyed them. I love little freebies from the chef! :)

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Onto tapas!! I did some research online before going to make sure we get the best tapas, and then also asked the waiter for recommendations. Here is what we ended up ordering:

Coles de bruselas: roasted brussels sprouts, chorizo, golden raisins

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This was the star of all tapas (the waiter said it was their best seller too). The brussels sprouts were heavily roasted (almost melted in your mouth) and their subtle sweetness of perfectly complemented by smoky little chunks of chorizo (I liked that they weren’t giant and too overwhelming) + sweet raisins. Adam thought the raisins really made the dish… I thought it was the brussels sprouts 😀 Delicious!!

Gambas al Ajillo: sauteed garlic shrimp

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Delicious shrimp but nothing special, in my opinion. Too much butter for my taste! Adam really enjoyed them, but honestly I think I can easily recreate this at home and make it much healthier without sacrificing on taste.

Alcachofas fritas: crispy fried artichoke hearts with alioli

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This was another dish highly recommended online. The artichokes were delicious and the creamy alioli sauce made it a little more exciting. However, I am not generally a fan of fried food so after a few pieces I couldn’t stomach any more of this. The grease got to me and the creamy sauce overwhelmed my taste buds. If you like fried food, I think the dish is fantastic, otherwise it is probably better ordered if you have a lot of people (and thus only get a little taste) or can just be skipped. This is the only one we ended up not finishing.

Patatas bravas: feisty fried potatoes

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The description on the menu make us think these babies were going to be spicy. Not the case. All the tapas were very rich (oily, buttery, etc.) so surprisingly this almost felt relatively healthy. The potatoes were nice and crispy on the outside and perfectly tender (and grease free!) on the inside. The sauce on top was roasted red pepper based. We enjoyed this one as a palate cleanser to the rest of the more intense offerings (I can’t believe I’m saying that about fried potatoes!!).

We were pretty stuffed at this point, but I’m pretty sure I have another separate stomach for dessert 😆 I decided to take a look at the dessert menu and see if anything jumped out. Oh yeah, the flourless chocolate cake definitely did! [They don’t have their dessert menu online so unfortunately I don’t have the full description available for you.]

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This, my blog friends, is worth coming back for! Perfect little slice of slightly warm flourless chocolate cake (not too dense but with just the right amount of chocolate intensity). I don’t know what the cream on top was, but it all worked. Adam and I devoured this baby in minutes, and I could definitely eat more. Worth every calorie!

The dinner was definitely pretty heavy, but overall we really enjoyed the vibe, the food and service at Estragon. There are so many great restaurants in Boston, that it will probably be awhile until we’re back there (still have to try the famous Toro for tapas!) but I’ll definitely welcome the opportunity to go back there any day. They also have $1 tapas 5:30-7 on week nights, which is a steal!

Have you had tapas before? What’s your favorite spot or dish?

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