Sasha Elenko, Co-Content Editor
When I was about seven, I went with my family to the Back Bay Inn. I don’t remember much from that evening, but I do recall tasting liqueur syrup for the first time. It was drizzled atop bread pudding. The strong alcohol taste was foreign and overwhelming, and I didn’t even finish eating it.
That was one of my first thoughts last month when I returned to that same building for the first time in 10 years. Now, this restaurant on the first floor of The Burton Inn is called Lucy’s Table, and it has been wildly successful since its nascence in mid-April.
Upon entry, the foyer and waiting room seem almost like an upscale living room, and the dining room looks like, well, a dining room. In fact, the whole building looks like it could be a large house. And that’s because, in a sense, it is.
While the bottom floor is used by Lucy’s Table, the entire second floor is operated as The Burton Inn. There are four upstairs rooms with beautifully engaging views of Quartermaster Harbor to each side. Guests receive room service — meals prepared by the restaurant downstairs — and are also treated to handmade soaps engraved with the name of the island goat they came from.
Goats aside — or included if you enjoy eating soap — the food is top-tier. We started with the chicken skewer, or rather the epitome of the chicken skewer: hot enough to see the post-bite steam, but cool enough to savor the taste without frantically swallowing it whole. It was tender enough to masticate with ease, but grilled just enough to taste the slightest bit of char.
Next came the twice-baked potato. It was a real indulgence. Three potato halves topped with cheddar cheese-bathed bacon and an unruly nest of pencil-thin onion fries were supplemented by what can only be described as an oversized and rather utilitarian butter knife, which came in handy for all subsequent dishes. The onion fries were like finger-spaghetti — in fact I unabashedly stuffed them all into my mouth before I even started on the potato.
For the main dish, we ordered the signature fish and chips. They had a crispy, tempura-like outer shell which fell away away to reveal a buttery filet of cod; though the exact type of fish depends on the day. I originally described them to my friends as a “butterfly swimming in butter,” due to their light and fragile qualities.
Every good restaurant visit should have a cosmic wink — a moment in which the universe reveals a tiny piece of itself. I was still waiting for mine when I finished my fish and chips. But fear not, because out came our server, Allison, offering us the dessert du jour: bread pudding with whiskey liqueur syrup — almost identical to the dish I had ordered ten years earlier. This time, the ethanolic syrup wasn’t intolerable, but rather just sharp enough to give the bread pudding a little kick. It might have been too large had I not shared it with my two friends who were accompanying me.
Before I had even regained full awareness of my surroundings, the universe winked again. This time in the form of the amuse-bouche — the elusive chef’s choice hors d’œuvre improvised exclusively for special patrons. Apparently the chef had gotten word that we were there to review the restaurant, and he, being a former VHS foodie himself, had decided to treat us to the wanderings of his mind. We were each brought a plate featuring a half-puddle of balsamic currant reduction with two dabs of basil pesto, steeping an unholy trinity of seared gnocchi, which was topped with a “very special local clam” — we still don’t know what that means — and a glazed and baked red seaweed flourish.
Now I am forever in mourning at the fact that I will likely never experience an amuse-bouche again. But I will undoubtedly go to Lucy’s Table again — soon. And when I do, you can bet I’m getting the fish and chips.