There isn't much more relaxing then leaving a gorgeous hotel room to emerge down an elevator at your dinner table. During my stay at the Mandarin Oriental, I took advantage of Asana, located right in the hotel and directly on Boylston Street.
I was intrigued by Asana after trying Chef Nelson Paz's chocolate lollipops at the Taste of Boston event in March. Inevitably, then, I began by meal by checking out the dessert menu. And my dessert, a riff on lemon meringue pie was my favorite dish of the night. It consisted of sable crumbles, basil pearls and a lemon confit. What arrived was a wonderful lemon semi-freddo, sitting aside a perfectly browned meringue swirl, a fabulous lemon confit and tiny orbs of basil. It was a delicate end to my meal. (Just days later I had another, and equally delightful Chef Paz creation at the Taste of the Back Bay. This time, the dessert played on strawberry shortcake. Chef Paz also took the time to reveal that the strawberry orbs were made by combining fresh strawberry juice with alginate to create this lovely, caviar like bubbles.)My favorite savory dish of the night, ironically, was one was sent out as a treat from the current Chef, Executive Sous Chef Damian Zedower. It was a perfectly cooked butter poached lobster, draped in orange segments and set in a pool of butternut squash puree. Alongside were slivers of radish and baby arugula. I have always been a purist when it comes to lobster. But the Chef had me charmed here. The butter made the lobster even more tender. And then, ironically, the sweet and creamy puree helped to balance the richness of the seafood. Finally, the arugula and oranges provided enough of a tart contrast to give depth of flavor.
Instead of your standard bread and butter, Asana started the meal off a bit oddly with a dip of smoked tomato and leek puree on bread. I was a bit perplexed by the pickled cucumbers and never quite fell in love with the dip or the breads.
However, I loved my two plump Island Creek oysters, as lush and sweet as I remember from my meal at Lineage in Brookline.
My main dish was Apple Cider Braised Berkshire Pork Shank. It came served over grits with baby carrots, cipollini onions and mustard greens. I heard the next waiter explain that it was very rich....after I had ordered it...And he was right. The shank was big enough for a Flintstone. Combined with incredibly buttery grits and the gravy, the dish was almost impossibly heavy. That being said the meat was tender and literally falling off the bone. I loved the carrots and greens and ate a few bits of the shank. But at the end, most of it ended up in a doggie bag.
For a special treat, you can also try the Chef's Table. In a private room, adjacent to the kitchen you can have a the Asana cooks create a meals for two or more people while you can take in scenes of the kitchen.
As for me, I look forward to more dessert from Chef Paz
Asana at the Mandarin Oriental, 776 Boylston Street, Boston, 617-535-7841