Since starting my new job, my most convenient lunch spot is Paciarino. I was about to wander in there a couple of weeks ago until I realized that their hours changed for the winter. What was I to do? Okay, there’s certainly no shortage of options in the Old Port, but I wasn’t really in the mood for a cold and slushy trek anywhere else. A few steps further took me around the corner and I found the 468 signage staring me in the face. I had never set foot inside until this month. I’ve walked past it countless times and I’m no stranger to Pai Men Miyake, its companion noodle house in Longfellow Square. My friends who have dined at Chef Masa’s flagship restaurant have reported that an outing there can be rather expensive, which I guess put me under the impression that maybe it was too high-end to offer lunch service. That being said, none of my friends have ever spoken about the price in a negative manner. They have always justified that you get what you pay for, but advise it may be more appropriate for special occasions. That particular day, I chose to ignore this. Carpe diem for the win! As soon as I entered, I was hit by some of the most wonderful smells from the open kitchen. It was different from Pai Men, where the atmosphere can be a little on the smoky side at times. I ordered the teishoku, essentially three small courses at a fixed price: house salad or miso soup, choice of a starter, and a main.
The house salad was light but flavorful. My tartare was dressed in mayo, but not with a heavy hand, which really allowed the freshness of the tuna to shine through. The broth of the chicken udon had a nice briny sourness to it and was packed with plump noodles, shiitakes, seaweed, and root veggies. I could eat a bowl of that for every sick day and quite possibly every non-sick day too. I don’t usually opt for a dessert during lunch time, but Pai Men Miyake has a tremendous track record for satisfying my sweet tooth. I don’t consider that a small feat because a dessert course isn’t always the strongest selling point in Asian-inspired cuisine. One option was a crème brûlée, which I had to pass on. Instead I chose the saké-scented chocolate cake drizzled with miso-caramel sauce, served warm with a sesame almond wafer. Once again, Miyake’s team knocked it out of the park! (Wow…did I just use a sports expression? Things are deteriorating quickly with my writing voice!) If this is just the tip of the iceberg, I am very eager to explore their dinner options and also plan to check out their ‘reboot’ of the 129 Spring Street location.
I feel that I cannot give a proper report of Piccolo at the moment. The morning hours are not an ideal meal time for me. I’ve managed to get my lactose intolerance* under control, but the same cannot be said for eggs, hence why I had to skip the custard-based dessert at Miyake. Crêpes, pancakes, French toast, omelettes, quiches, and frittatas all seem to be off-limits, which is a bummer because many of those preparations can be slightly more daring in the way of breakfast/brunch fare. I’m basically left with continental options which fill my belly just fine, but don’t necessarily wake up my tastebuds. Sadly, Piccolo was no exception as the only compatible items I could find on the menu were the salad, pasta fagiole, and zeppoli.
The soup was hearty, but the salad was on the plain side. I’ve been without made-to-order donuts since Urban Sugar Cafe relocated their operation to Sugarloaf for the winter months. The zeppoli were an ideal temperature, bite-size, and not at all heavy. I also really enjoyed the fact that the coffee was served in a press where I could top off my cup at my leisure. I certainly do not regret my visit in any way, but when it comes to Italian cuisine I suppose brunch is not at the forefront of my cravings. My server actually followed my Instagram, presumably from the location tag, not long after I paid my bill. A couple of comments back & forth from her have enlightened me to a blind chef’s tasting that they offer on Sunday evenings. Five courses for $55, you just have to inform them of your allergies and strongest dislikes ahead of time. I’m looking forward to giving them another shot because I enjoyed the intimate layout and I have heard only good things about their dinner service since they opened in the fall.
*Digestive Advantage is my miracle probiotic. Taken daily versus each dairy serving. Frugal fact: it’s cheaper at Hannaford than CVS!