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by Marisa Olsen

Icarus or Ick R Us?

So last evening, for my Boston Restaurant Week Summer '08 indulgence, I sampled South End's "gem," Icarus. The phrase I can't put my finger on it sums it up well. Although the service was very good and the menu was quite varied, my dining partner and I did not love it.

Let me start with the ambiance. The main dining area in this subterranean restaurant is dimly lit, crammed with bulky, wooden tables (no white, crisp linens here) and some padded/unpadded chairs that resemble a dining set from Friendly's. Scattered statues of Icarus and Victorian and Art Deco lamps decorate the large, open room and high
windowless ceilings do nothing to alleviate the acoustics. It is as if someone just took their grandparent's dining set, (times 40) and set up shop. However, I appreciate the "funkiness" vibe that was presented, as opposed to the overly trendy atmosphere that we are normally bombarded with.

In terms of food, I enjoyed some of our dishes, but was not overly impressed. For our starters, my dining partner and I chose the fresh field greens salad with orange sherry vinaigrette and the grilled steak salad noodles with ginger and sesame. Perhaps it was my fault for ordering the salad and expecting wonderful things such as crystallized nuts, chunks of fruit and perhaps a dollop of cheese, because I was immediately disappointed when my salad arrived as just greens. Oh, and one cherry tomato for kicks, ouch. I tired to hide my disappointment and immediately set myself up for another let-down, the dressing. My chopped up greens might as well as been served au natural, because not a hint of orange or sherry or vinaigrette, for that matter, was even detected. Just some crunches of sea salt and the fresh black pepper I requested. Next. However, the Asian steak salad was much better. Tender strips of medium rare steak rested upon peanut soba noodles and a nice blend of ginger sesame dressing. For wine pairings we were served a Bordeaux Blanc and R
osé respectively.

For the
entrées , we chose the pan roasted chicken with Provençal vegetables and roasted potatoes and the grilled bluefish with smoked shrimp butter and roasted Poblano pepper, corn and quinoa. Both were actually quite nice. The chicken was cooked perfectly, moist and dripping with flavor. The bluefish was excellent, with a nice Southwestern kick, calmed by the mild quinoa. Each was paired respectively with a Cotes du Rhone and a husky Cabernet.

As for desserts, we decided on the decadent chocolate cake with caramel swirl and the peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream. For pairings, a
glass of Banyuls and Sauternes, which were a great complement to the rather simple desserts.

All-in-all, we were not in love. Granted it was Restaurant Week and quite packed, but we were not blown away as much as the menu enticed us.


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