Grilled chicken skewers ($7.50) might be a reference to the former Stix restaurant in this space, where everything was impaled. These are not satay, just plain with a teriyaki dip, but they will get eaten.
If not admitted entrées, the menu does list "big plates," such as scallops and sweet-pea risotto ($16) — not as much as you would get in a bistro, but tasty sea scallops, a creamy risotto (not al dente, which is okay with me), and a one of this year's retro sensations, fresh green peas. A salmon filet ($18) was not the biggest strip of fish out there, but the wisp of pureed Jerusalem artichoke and sautéed pea tendrils made a nice platter.
There are some decent wines by the glass. The malbec ($9/glass; $36/bottle) is the 2010 Gascon, not a fruit bomb, but no alcohol showing as with inexpensive malbecs. A Spanish garnacha ($9/36) was more wine per mouthful. On the white side, the lowest level of Saarsteiner Riesling ($9/36) is a real Mosel wine, albeit non-vintage, and sweet enough for the increasing ranks of Oregon Riesling drinkers, but had an off finish — or the last glass in last night's bottle did. That is the risk in wines by the glass.
Since the trendy crowd here is thin, I don't think this kitchen has planned on selling a lot of dessert. That said, the chocolate lava cake with rich vanilla ice cream is excellent; the chocolate banana bread pudding with caramel sauce is filling although not delivering all those flavor promises in every bite. Tea is served as a bag, but you can get the servers to put the bag in the pot of hot water before they bring it out.
Service generally was quite good with our large party, and we assembled a real dinner mostly out of small-plate parts. The owners have a crowd in mind, similar to the one at their Red Sky Restaurant and Lounge in Quincy Market. Can they port it over to the completely revised restaurant row on Stanhope Street (from Satch's to Uno's to Red Lantern — oh my)? Maybe not, but a nice place for some gourmet bits near Back Bay station is always welcome. We can't all fit in Geoffrey's.
Robert Nadeau can be reached at email@example.com.