To celebrate the long-awaited completions of our senior theses, my friend and I pre-emptively made a reservation a month in advance at Island Creek Oyster Bar, an upscale seafood restaurant in Kenmore Square, with high expectations for fine dining and cuisine. The food itself was somewhat disappointing, but the welcoming wait staff and sophisticated ambience compensated for the culinary shortcoming.
Our appetizer, mussels with couscous in a garlic-based white wine cream sauce, was the highlight of our meal. It came with a perfectly buttered slice of toast, which went well with the different textures of the dish: smooth, creamy couscous and juicy mussels. Served without shells, the mussels were able to absorb more of the delicious sauce and, as a result, burst with mild but delicious flavor. However, the appetizer itself was too filling and could have easily substituted for an entr?(c)e.
The main dishes paled in comparison. I chose the roasted monkfish with house-made ricotta tortellini and wild mushrooms in a red wine sauce, while my friend opted for the grilled salmon with curried lentils, pickled almonds and spiced Greek yogurt.
Both types of fish tasted very fresh and were perfectly cooked. However, the monkfish was overwhelmingly salty, and the salmon peculiarly orange-flavored.
The accompanying tortellini, mushrooms, lentils, almonds and yogurt were all too small in proportion to complement or even improve the taste of the main dishes. Also, full from the appetizer, I found myself half-heartedly picking away at my meal.
While the food was average, the eye-catching decor-walls adorned with real oyster shells behind grill bars-and wonderful Motown music provided for a relaxing post-thesis celebration.
The service was also great. Even though we were a little late for our reservation, the hostess promptly escorted us to our table. The wait staff answered our questions about the various menu options with sincerity and patience.
Overall, Island Creek makes for a good dining experience, but does not offer the extraordinary cuisine one would expect given its high prices and high-class presentation.