As we headed downtown for another wedding shopping venture (IKEA, this time), I saw that we’d be near Richard Blais’ latest enterprise, the Spence. I’ve reviewed a couple of his other places (Flip and HD1) and we decided to give this one a try. The Spence is part of the Concentrics Group, most of which we haven’t been to, when I look at their web page.
The decor was very modern. When we arrived, there was a private party of about 50 in the bar for drinks and appetizers and they were LOUD. Resultingly, the restaurant seemed loud, as they turned up the background music to adjust. When they finally left, about halfway through our meal, the volume level rolled back to a mild roar, but I imagine that when this place is full that it can be difficult to hear table conversation in a party over four.
As we reviewed the menu, Jo commented that it looked like another Friday night where everything on the menu was “weird”. I agreed about the “weird” part – a quick look showed pork terrines, beef tongue tacos, lobster knuckle sandwiches, pork trotter empanadas, veal sweetbreads, fatty beef tartare, crispy sardines and oysters and pearls.
While we decided they started us with Parker House rolls with house-made coconut butter.
The rolls were very tasty. The coconut butter was heavy on the coconut.
Jo chose the most “normal” thing on the menu – a “Juicy Lucy”. (A Juicy Lucy is a Northern creation – I’d first seen them in reviews of burger joints in Minneapolis-St. Paul). This is a burger made by pushing two patties together and filling the center with cheese – white American cheese, in this instance.
By putting the cheese between the patties, it really gives it an opportunity to melt. In fact, when Jo cut into her burger, the cheese literally ran out of the burger onto the plate. It was served with pickles and caramelized onions and “triple fried” fries. She said that the burger was very good (it was all gone at meal’s end), but the fries were so-so. I tried one of the fries and agreed. In retrospect, she didn’t offer to share the burger.
I was torn between ordering the Juicy Lucy as well, but when I mentioned that I was considering the lamb osso buco to the waiter, he started effusing about that choice.
Their osso buco was plated with a couple of root vegetables of which I’m not fond and polenta. I had the other two vegetables held and went solely with the lamb and polenta. The polenta was creamy and laced with the lamb jus. And the lamb itself was fork-tender. It was an excellent dish.
As I was a side (or two) short, I ordered a corn creme brulee which we shared. In a month that has been filled with excellent corn dishes, this was another. The top of the corn had been caramelized and the corn was amazingly sweet. Almost too sweet for a side.
Several of the reviews that I read before going said that the dish choices were definitely “hit” or “miss” and there was not a lot of middle ground. They all focused on and spoke highly of the “weird” (my word) part of the menu. We didn’t sample that part, but will should be try again.