101 Arch Street (Enter at 34 Summer Street)
Boston MA 02110
When you hear (Boston’s) Downtown Crossing….what comes to mind?
Having worked in Boston for years, I think of Jordan Marsh and Filenes (when Filene’s Basement meant something) on Summer Street. Holiday shopping was always a bit of a (last minute – don’t tell anyone) affair enabled by the area. Sadly, Jordan Marsh is now Macys (on the first floor – the upper floors are a massive high end data center) and the Filenes building is literally a façade…on the verge of greatness.
The truth is Downtown Crossing is on an upswing. Mayor Thomas M Menino has made the area a priority, pumping over $13M is improvements including LED street signs, repairs to crumbling sidewalks, and newly paved roads, part of a broader plan to revitalize the long-neglected area.
Back in the day many a meeting was held at 101 Arch, in a second floor restaurant known as Dakotas. Like so many businesses, it gave way to another restaurant, Vinalia. While each were interesting, I always found each of them rather loud with just OK food.
A recent meeting afforded the opportunity to drop in at lunchtime, to a completely updated two year old French bistro Petit Robert Central at the top of the escalator off Summer Street.
The first thing you notice is the feeling of openness. HGTV’s designer Taniya Nayak (alsoRestaurant Impossible) gets a big GREEN LIGHT from me on this design. While the feeling is openness due to the uninterrupted sightlines to the windows, there are a number of smaller areas so you never feel like you are eating in an airplane hangar.
The food is styled by a Master Chef of France, Chef Jacky Robert. He was chef of Maison Robert, Ernie’s in San Francisco, and of Locke-Ober Cafe. In partnership with Loic Le Garrec the pair have opened five Petite Robert establishments.
The lunch menu was varied with a nice selection of traditional and more continental offerings.
We both had the Crab and Lobster Bisque (crab meat, cream sherry, lobster bisque and lemon.) While the amount of meat was to the thrifty side, the bisque was fabulous. What surprised us was how light the bisque was…and filling. The truth is we both commented how the bisque alone would have been a more than sufficient lunch.
My friend had the Central BLT. “I normally wouldn’t have a BLT out, but it sounded good,” commented my buddy. I noticed he finished every crumb.
As I was eyeing the BLT, and not wanting to disappoint the readers by duplicating, I asked for an alternative suggestion. Our server immediately suggested the Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich, a huge affair as it turned out. Buttermilk and flour encrusted chicken breast, Muenster, caper butter, and an over easy egg on an onion roll. Suffice to say I skipped dinner.
With the holiday season just around the corner, if your travels have you around Downtown Crossing, check out Petit Robert Central.
Petit Robert Central gets a GREEN LIGHT…go and enjoy.
About the RAG scale:
Green Light – Go and enjoy
Amber Light – Use caution
Red Light – Save your time and money