Bond Restaurant and Lounge

Good small plates and wine — license to kill not necessary
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  May 5, 2009
2.0 2.0 Stars

A NICE PEAR: Desserts are a high point at Bond, including the Seckel pear tart, which is beautifully laid out, long, and full of pear flavor.

Bond Restaurant and Lounge | 250 Franklin Street (Langham Hotel), Boston | 617.451.1900, extension 7777 | Open daily, 11 am–10 pm; bar OPEN UNTIL 2 am | AE, CB, Di, MC, Vi | Full bar | Street-level access via lobby | Valet parking, $15
Boy, do these people ever wish they had gone for the James Bond theme instead of the US Savings Bond décor? I'll bet you a round lot of Lehman Brothers stock they do. Of course, when your hotel is in the former Boston branch of the Federal Reserve Bank, it's tempting to give your bar-restaurant a finance theme, complete with cocktails named for denominations and dead presidents and wall blow-ups of the rapidly vanishing paper savings bond.

More bizarre, though, is the air of new money, in the form of throbbing dance electronica, a plasma TV tuned to sports, and a DJ spinning four nights each week. I'm sure that if the owners hadn't already spent the money, they would trade it all in for pictures of live actors and actresses that were in the Bond movies, a movie-theme-medley soundtrack, Aston Martin hubcaps, a list of martinis, and go-go dancers painted gold.

Oh, well. It's too late now. But Bond does have some great small plates if you parse the menu, and some fine wines if you don't mind markups that run $10 to $16 per glass and upward of $40 for bottles.

You also pay for the breadbasket ($8), but it's not a bad buy: hot buns of sourdough and multigrain, plus micro baguettes, served with sea-salt-enhanced butter, a tasty white-bean spread, and a terrific black-olive tapenade. Mixed olives ($8) are better than the free ones elsewhere, accompanied by herbed cubes of real sheep's-milk feta cheese and marcona almonds. The best of these starter items is another one that's often complimentary: fresh house-made potato chips ($8). They're not over-salted and come with a sour cream and fried-onion dip that's so '50s it's almost appropriate for James Bond.

The kind of appetizers we are used to paying for start with "Exotic Mushroom and Parmesan Arancini" ($10): six squash balls of crisp-fried risotto that needed more wild-mushroom flavor to live up to the menu description, but were delightful nonetheless. Three deep-fried empanadas ($12) had an authentic Latin chicken-olive filling. And even though "House Smoked Applewood Salmon and American Caviar" ($12) brought pretty canapés on what seemed like refrigerator biscuits — a jarring note — the dab of black caviar on each was a real flavor enhancer. Again, it's retro enough for either sort of Bond.

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