If Louis XIV was visiting Boston and you had to take him out to dinner, you’d head to the place with the most ornamental plaster and gilded surfaces, right? He’d feel so at home on one of those high-backed sofas, sipping a Lulu Lemon Drop out of a chalice big enough to bathe a small human.
The rest of us might feel a little intimidated—at least, confused—walking into Yvonne’s. The entrance room is some kind of decorative hair salon, replete with shampoo-stocked shelves. When the hostess opens the real door, you enter “the library,” a dim woodsy lair lined with books. If you’re fancy enough to snag a table (read: you reserved a month ago), you’ll be seated amongst Boston’s debonairs in a chandelier-brightened room under a giant oil painting of a naked lady taking a selfie.
And then, stuff is on fire. Like, things are burning and there are no windows. Well, mostly just cocktails topped with flaming booze-filled limes. But that on-fire thing is a definite theme: Every dish tastes like it’s been caramelized somehow, its edges charred to a crisp, allowing insides to melt away. The result is pervasive umami bolstered by savvy ingredients, like the Sujuk’s unforgettable Turkish beef sausage, the Charred Maitake Mushroom Toast’s whipped miso, the Chicken & Quinoa Meatballs’ Chinese garlic sauce, and the Bavette Steak’s caramelized green olive. To balance the boldness along the way, you’ll find satisfying layers of mouth-coating fats, whether haut (marrow butter, white anchovy butter) or not (spicy mayo, joppiesaus).
Yvonne’s décor and brash flavors suffice to convey the theme of unabashed extravagance, but for the real deal, order something so huge it barely fits at your table. Like a cocktail that serves eight people. Or a Grilled “Viper” Chop, cooked for 24 hours and served on a 24-inch-long plate (yes, we measured). And then, for consistency’s sake, order the $45 dessert. It comes on a feasting platter and when it arrives, your server—you guessed it—lights the whole thing on fire. It’s like the rest of your meal: weird, scary, eminently instagrammable, and you scarf it down at record speed because it’s damn tasty. Too much of a splurge? Well, we know what Louis’ lady would’ve said: Let them eat Baked Alaska.
Getting a table reservation less than a month ahead of time is almost impossible, but bar seating is plentiful in both rooms. Crowding around a tiny bar seat is socially acceptable, too.
Group cocktails look insane, but equivalent to eight drinks at $95, they’re actually a good deal (less than $12 apiece compared to $14).
“Feasts” are for two-plus people. But the two people who could together conquer one of these would be, we imagine, especially badass. Four is more accurate, especially if you’ve got small plates coming, too.
This is the site of the former Restaurant Parisien, opened by French native Louis Ober in 1862. The mahogany bar was built in 1886—but women weren’t allowed in the dining room until 1971!
Tastes of Yvonne's
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