Meritage Sets the Bar for Fine Dining Downtown

Posted June 4, 2015 by Kayla Baker in Dining Downtown: Restaurant Reviews
cabernet braised prime short ribs

It’s near impossible for a resident of Downtown Boston not to have visited the Boston Harbor Hotel at least once. The towering arch of the hotel dominates 70 Rowes Wharf and invites passersby to a stroll along the docks for a gorgeous view of the harbor. While the hotel cannot be overlooked, it is possible to have bypassed its resident fine dining restaurant, Meritage. However, anyone who has not experienced Meritage is doing themselves a huge disservice. This restaurant boasts an extraordinary wine list and exquisite food pairings by chef Daniel Bruce. Bruce recently refreshed the menu at Meritage with a focus on the vineyard-to-table concept he conceived with some of the world’s best winemakers, resulting in a dining experience that would make any foodie’s mouth water.

The experience at Meritage is nothing short of divine from beginning to end. Ornamental carpet and map-lined walls guided me from the Boston Harbor Hotel’s lobby up a staircase that leads to the restaurant’s entry. The hostess then led me through an intimate and elegant dining room to a table overlooking the harbor, where I was then greeted by my waiter, who was on hand all evening to check in and answer questions.

The menu at Meritage illustrates chef Bruce’s sommelier expertise by dividing food options into one of four groups– Bubbles, Aromatic, Rosey, or Intense– based on the types of wine that would go best with each dish. Each group has a corresponding wine flight of three wines that would complement the flavors of the dishes in its section. This creative organization allows even the wine novice to choose a food and drink comination that will ultimately delight.

Wine Flight Meritage

Corresponding wine flight of three wines that would complement the flavors of my dinner. Photo Credit: Kayla Baker

After much deliberation, I decided upon the cabernet braised prime short ribs and its corresponding Intense wine flight, which consisted of a meritage, a bordeaux, and a merlot. The dish was so beautifully presented that I was hesitant to eat it, but not eating would be a cardinal sin at Meritage. The tender short rib melted in my mouth and was cooked to absolute perfection, and in the accompanying kale and roasted carrots, I detected a hint of truffle oil among the savory cabernet sauce. Each wine in the flight paired excellently with the short rib while maintaining their own distinct taste. I heeded the advice of my waiter and enjoyed the entire experience slowly and deliberately.

bitter chocolate honey cremeux

Meritage’s bitter chocolate honey cremeux. Photo Credit: Kayla Baker

For dessert I opted for the bitter chocolate honey cremeux, a bar of dense chocolate pudding accompanied by gelato and a blackberry fennel sauce. I paired the dessert with an Amaro flight of chinato, montenegro, and fernet branca. The syrupy sweetness of the port flight could have been dessert alone, as they each bore a unique flavor profile of coffee, orange, or cherry. Even so, I had no regrets about ordering it in tandem with the cremeux, whose thick and creamy consistency had me eating it slowly like I was in a chocolate commercial. I spent a full hour enjoying my dessert, which is behavior not typical of me but absolutely warranted on this occasion.

Meritage belongs to a category of its own among Downtown Boston restaurants. No other restaurant can claim the combination of world class wines, expertly paired with gourmet food, and a stunning view of Boston harbor. Not only is an evening at Meritage a must for local residents, it’s an evening worth bragging about.