The Leather District is a unique little corner of Boston nestled between Chinatown and the theatre district. It has a historic Boston industrial feeling and actually reminds me a little of NYC with unexpected restaurants, apartments, office buildings, and small independent artists and artisans. When you walk into Bel Ari, you are wrapped up by the space. It feels chic, warm and inviting, but also grande. The artwork is large and impressive and gives a nod to the Italian food being served. Next door to Bel Ari is the French wine bar Les Zygomates which has an equal emphasis on art but a completely different vibe. The jazzy wine bar where you could easily become a regular sipping a glass of wine and getting lost in the music as the snow begins to swirl outside on the city streets.
Just as you might put a little classical or pop music on while you’re cooking dinner and then after you’ve put away all the dishes you grab that still 1/2 full glass of wine, kick off your shoes and settle into the sofa with some Dave Brubeck on the cd player, you can now enjoy dinner this way without any of the work. Bel Ari and Les Zygomates are hosting progressive dinners on the second Thursday of every month. Each dinner begins with the flavours of Italy at Bel Ari and continues and finished at French wine bar Les Zygomates.
Several weeks ago I was invited to give it a try and although I didn’t quite know what to expect as I had never been to such a dinner nor to either of those restaurants. I really enjoyed the experience and think it would be a great way to do something different for a holiday dinner, night out with friends, or a very special date night.
Diners begin with two courses at Bel Ari paired with Italian wines. The appetizers include arancini di riso and a sweet whipped ricotta served with honey and pistachios. Then, because you can’t leave an Italian table without at least one pasta dish, the second course is a choice of penne or gnocchi. What I love about this progressive dinner is that it’s really an event; it is a nice long stretched out meal and a feast for all the senses with the food, the art and the music.
Both restaurants have unique wine lists. I was with a large group and didn’t love all the wines we had, but I would love to explore their wine list more in depth when it is just my husband and I. After the first courses, you stroll next door to Les Zygomates for the rest of the meal. Be sure to take in all the art as you do. Dinner continues with a choice of a flat iron steak or striped bass. The steak is served with pomme purées (the extremely fine and rich French version of mashed potatoes), wild mushrooms, foie gras, and is in a Madeira sauce. The fish is pistachio-crusted and served with roasted potatoes, kale, and is in a lemon brown butter sauce. There is a choice of several desserts or you can skip dessert and enjoy a signature cocktail or after dinner drink (unless you want both of course).
Dinner is $49 per person or $75 per person with wine pairings. Reservations can be made by calling Les Zygomates at (617) 542-5108. Upcoming progressive dinners are Thursday, January 7th, and Thursday, February 11th.