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65 Exeter St. Send to Phone

Dinner nightly, Brunch Sun.

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: Spouses Bob Calderone and Susan Finegold made their name as the chefs/owners of the small but spectacular Anago Bistro in Cambridge. But after several years of playing local darlings at what was in essence a Mom-and-Pop operation, the big-time came calling. Less than a year later, they were at the helm of Anago in the Lenox Hotel. It’s the local dining equivalent of making a hit indie film and having Dreamworks re-imagine it with a big budget only months later. Some things translated marvelously. Designer Sandra Fairbanks did her thing by crafting a sensual and sedate room that looks like a chic and colorful update of a country inn---if any country inn had an open-kitchen and ceilings so high they make you feel as though you’re in a sports arena. Consultant Jerry Castleman contributed a wine list that is deftly matched to Anago’s food. Pastry chef Lee Napoli came on board and her sweet-savvy makes dessert a must. And Finegold dressed her wait staff in designer duds and watched them blossom. The one thing that didn’t fully flourish is the food, although there are many nice choices when Calderone stays down to earth. He deals in the gutsy flavors of country cooking, mostly that of France. Grilled duck breast is perfectly pink inside and smoky, reinforced by a succulent braised leg, emboldened by a root vegetable hash. There are levels of flavor there. Salmon tastes large and earthy after a showering of baby artichoke vinaigrette and several forkfuls of horseradish-flavored mashed potatoes. Still, some dishes are confusing, some are too trendy and yet others just pretty hotel food.Pan-seared sole is plated with crab cakes and a citrus beure blanc; it looks and eats tired. Tuna tartare comes with smoked salmon, wasabi, and tobiko, three things a chef with an uncanny sense of the Gallic should never have to lean on. We’re hoping to see more of the old Calderone in the new one.


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