Where's the beef?

By MC SLIM JB  |  June 4, 2008

As for those canonical Peruvian seafood dishes, Rincon Limeño nails them. Their ceviche de pescado of grouper ($13) can make your eyes roll back, rivaling sashimi in its ability to showcase the delicate flavor and texture of fresh raw fish, with textural interest provided by garnishes of thin-sliced red onion, large-kernel corn, mildly hot chilies, and fresh cilantro. The overflowing jalea ($17) of squid, grouper, and shrimp boasts the kind of deep-frying finesse that new cooks at certain famed local clam shacks should have to taste as part of their training.

With its towering deliciousness-to-cost ratio, it’s no wonder this little corner spot attracts so many families. When my young nephew finishes his salchipapa ($5), grill-crisped frankfurter slices mixed with French fries and gravy, he gots a little rambunctious, but nobody seemed to mind. (He’s soon becalmed by the arrival of his giant alfajor ($1.50), an anise-scented sandwich cookie dusted with powdered sugar and filled with caramel cream.) With solicitous servers, friendly patrons, and prices that have stayed low even after a recent dining-room makeover, Rincon Limeño should be in every tight-fisted beef-lover’s rotation.

080606_kingston_main
Steak Frites at Kingston Station

Kingston Station
25 Kingston Street, Boston | kingstonstation.com | 617.482.6282
As we scanned the packed bar for a few adjacent seats, I felt as if I’d made a terrible mistake in bringing my friends to Kingston Station. It was late on a weekend night, most downtown dining rooms were closed, and the scene here was pure Quincy Market meat rack. Bad pop music pounded on the sound system while an eight-deep pack of hammered twentysomethings brayed and woozily ogled each other, wondering if there was a hookup to be made before the closing bell. I’d heard this place offers French brasserie fare that’s less phony than some recently opened competitors, but this felt like doom on a plate. We somehow scored seats at the far end of the bar, away from the noisiest jostling, and cracked open menus. The kind of syrupy dating-bar cocktails this place seems sure to serve were too grim to contemplate; we quickly ordered a carafe of Louis Jadot Beaujolais Village ($24) and wondered what culinary horrors awaited us.

Okay, how bad could they screw up a steak frites? We all got this same dish, to the barman’s satisfaction: our uniform order gave him precious seconds in his battle with the hormone-charged scrum. Ten minutes later, out came my steak frites ($18). It sure looked like bona fide, according-to-Hoyle steak frites. I took a bite. It was a fantastic six-ounce piece of prime skirt steak — I didn’t know skirt could be prime! — skillfully charred and authentically sliced on the bias, dressed with maître d’hôtel butter. I already favor cheaper cuts like hanger and flank for their meaty flavor and slightly chewy texture; skirt belongs in that happy company. Excellent fries and a side of watercress barely misted with truffle oil were likewise spot-on; we gratefully wiped the plates clean. Here’s the bistro meal that most so-called bistros never serve: delicious, hearty, and simply prepared at workingman’s prices. Having entered through a most unpromising cloud of Acqua di Gio and cheesy pickup lines, we could not have been more pleased by our terrific little bar steaks.

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