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1 Huntington Ave. (Dartmouth St.) Send to Phone

Dinner daily

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THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED Salamander Restaurant Review

: Salamander is a challenging restaurant. Bamboo floors, silk Japanese lanterns, zinc tabletops---it's a dramatic brand of visual chic. The curves and grid-like geometry of the layout even recall rice paddies. One must assume this is chef-owner Stan Frankenthaler's ideal; few of his stature get the opportunity to relaunch their signature resto. Here's a neat trick: Reach underneath your table and find the wine list. It is assembled with an eye to food friendliness, strong on New World whites, but quite expensive. But we don't fret. That's because Frankenthaler's food is a thinking man's version of upscale Asian, as culturally savvy as it is technically sound, and his freewheeling hot sour salty sweet flavors downright dig the sprightliness of the many beers on offer. The final element in Salamander's cuisine is a robust quality that is nothing if not New England---perhaps a holdover from Frankenthaler's time as Jasper White's sous chef. The palate can bathe in this flavor largesse with each spoonful of an oxtail soup, licked with star anise, tiny dumplings afloat in the broth. Crystal dumplings are filled with minced pork, delicately sweet from spicing, and splashed with warm bacon. If only the signature lightly fried lobster weren't such a mess. The meat is overcooked, the coconut milk-based sauce MIA, and the vermicelli and lettuce accompaniments look tired. But club steak, rising out of a voluptuous Kashmiri stew of mushrooms, spinach and fingerlings, sits like a Himalayan peak and eats almost as grandly. Desserts are hit or miss---lemon grass sorbet with shredded mango spot-on, but chocolate wontons a greasy turn-off.


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