Estragon, Boston: my new tapas addiction
The cause of my pignostication? The menu at Estragon, the South End's newest tapas place, which features the porcine cranium as one of its signature dishes. Apparently it comes with all the parts attached: tongue, eyes, ears (the bartender particularly recommends the muscles at the back of the neck). Sounds like the perfect way to spend a doubtless freezing January birthday, don'tcha think?
Friday night's dinner was not quite as decadent, but still lovely. We started out at the bar. As our dining companion Tim is a regular visitor to Estragon's adjoining deli, Las Ventas (he recommends their manchego-jamón serrano sandwich), we were treated to plates of thin, delicate jamón, an incredible tortilla española flavored with lemon (genius!), and a dish of fried, paprika-dusted chickpeas that the Boston Globe's review accurately refers to as "chickpea crack"--it took serious restraint to eat a dainty handful at a time, because my instinct was to grab an enormous fistful and shove them in my face.
We also got to watch the sangria machine:
The one downside to Estragon was the noise level; between the roomful of happy diners and the cranked-up music, it was hard to have a conversation. But just as we finished fighting over the last dustings of chickpea crack, our table on the sidewalk patio opened up and we were led outside to relative peacefulness.
And then we ate more: shrimp in garlic butter; a giant scallop finished with almond cream; tender cod cheeks; another plate of jamón serrano and manchego; veal sweetbreads; and a dish of peppery housemade sausage that was so good, we ordered an encore.
And then to dessert. There were only three choices, so we got one of each: a dense, moist chickpea poundcake with grilled peaches, a lovely version of traditional flan, and a trio of ice creams--honey-thyme, salted caramel, and turrón. I'm not usually a gelato girl, but once again, it was hard to share. Give me an unlimited supply of Estragon's fried chickpeas and this dessert, and I'd follow you into battle. (As long as you didn't mind that I'd weigh 300 lbs.)
And there were all kinds of tapas we didn't get around to trying: the calamari with blood sausage, the beef tongue, the frogs' legs, the roasted eggplant with chorizo, and of course the sea urchin and foie gras sliders.
It looks as though Estragon's menu is still evolving; a steak-and-quail egg dish Tim had tried previously was no longer listed, and the menu on Estragon's website is not quite the same as the one we saw. Which means we'll probably need to make a return visit sooner than January.