PRETTY, TASTY: The best deconstruction here is the “velvet cheesecake,” but much of the menu is better to look at than to eat.
Maybe it is all relative. Last week, Deuxave got three stars from a daily newspaper reviewer who compared it to its neighbor across the street, Clio — a restaurant famous for tiny, expensive portions of beautifully plated food. I walked into Deuxave thinking about a dozen gastropubs serving much the same food, without as much visual appeal perhaps, but for 60 percent of the price.
To me, Deuxave was as pretentious as its phony Franglish name — and flawed besides, by undercooked legumes and oversalted seafood. Deconstructed steak, deconstructed cheesecake. What's the point? The food at "Doo-ave" (the intended mispronunciation, like a duo of crossing avenues, Massachusetts and Commonwealth) is better on the tongue than the name is, but it's also nicer to look at than to eat, and not worth the price no matter what you're doing with it.
They do have (sorry about that) swell hot potato rolls. These are served with European butter still in the foil package, so you will know it is special.
An appetizer that really is special is the "fall vegetable salad" ($13), where the visual stunt is to serve it in what looks like a small Chinese steamer but is actually a cylinder of potato chip. Inside are field greens, pungent purple pickled cauliflower bits, sliced radishes, a bit of apple, slices of roast delicata squash, and a light white balsamic dressing.
But the "mélange of heirloom beets" ($11) are the same red, golden, and chioggia beets served everywhere, without the concentrated flavors of slow roasting (a common fault). It's served with better-than-average local goat cheese, some walnuts, an unripe pear, and just a few mustard greens. The mark-up appears to be for the casual-looking scatter of little pieces around the plate. Then there is the ubiquitous "crispy Crescent Farms duck confit" ($14), of which the skin isn't crisped; the flesh, while flavorfully cured, isn't spiced, and the underlying stew of white beans is undercooked. My friends, it is the pasta and the risotto that can be al dente — not the beans. We are paying for pretty, and a tangle of fresh tarragon.
I don't, however, object to paying $10 for "nine-hour French onion soup." The broth here is real and not too salty, the imported cheese melts a little more fondue-like, and the chef has straddled the crouton question by melting one slice of bread in the soup, and crisping another to be served on the side.
My favorite entrée was seared local diver scallops ($28), six medium-size sea scallops with a lot on the plate: scalloped potatoes, petite sticks of bacon, decorative herbs, and melted cheese. We didn't get the froth in the Web-site picture, but it was a fine dish.
Tagliatelle "Bolognaise" ($21) was good pasta and a near-great meat, cream, and tomato ragu — until the salt began to register. Chard is a nice addition. Pancetta, however, makes for a lot of bacon on this menu, especially if one adds an equally oversalted side potlet of Brussels sprouts ($7), nicely charred on one side but, again, made with bacon. A side of "crispy wild mushrooms" ($13) is more salty and greasy than crisp, with enoki and other small buttons, and a few trumpets.