A Tomato Feast At Upstairs On The Square

Just a few hours ago, I was sitting on a plush purple couch, feeling quite like a princess in the Soiree Dining Room at Upstairs on the Square. I was surrounded by good friends who love food and conversations about food as much as I do. I can't think of a better to way to have spent this particular rainy evening.

We were there specifically for the Tomato Feast, which started today and runs through Saturday. The feast consists of a 4-course meal (plus an amuse bouche) -- all with locally grown tomatoes -- for $42 with optional wine pairings for $55. We all appreciate a nice glass of wine paired with our food, so we opted for the wine pairings.

Amuse Bouche
Shooter of summer gazpacho

I was completely obsessed with the mini croutons topping this perfect mouthful (well, three mouthfuls) of cool tomato soup. I wish I knew all the ingredients in here because the flavors intermingled so well.

While we had the tomato gazpacho and our next course, we sipped on an Albarino from Ca' del Solo Estate Vineyard. Our waitress took the time to explain all of the wines to us, and we learned that this is a vegan wine. Later, we wondered how a wine might be considered vegan. Does anyone know?

Classic native heirloom tomato salad

Heirloom tomatoes served with a fresh market raspberry vinegar, Vermont goat cheese, and Thai basil completely won us over. We were all sopping up any leftover dressing with bread -- it was that good. (And the bread was quite good too. It reminded me a little of soft pretzels. I think the crust may have been lightly salted.)

Parsley and lemon crusted hake

I am not usually wowed by fish, but WOW. The parsley and lemon crusted hake was served in a pool of lemongrass tomato water and accompanied by lightly crushed Yukon Golds. The flavor of the tomato water was unbelievable. I don't think I've had many dishes with lemongrass before, but it really made the whole dish pop. The potatoes were soft and soaked up the flavorful tomato water. We cleaned our plates. We had a Domaine Caillot 2007 White Burgundy with this dish, and I found its flavor smoother than that of our first wine.

Wood-grilled New York strip steak

As soon as this dish was placed in front of me I immediately caught the scent of roasted garlic. I couldn't wait to take a taste. But first our waitress came over to present our final wine. We were upgraded to Stag's Leap Artemis from Napa Valley. This was a great glass to end the meal with. I do love my red wine.

While I would have preferred the medium-rare steak more on the rare side and less on the medium side, I loved the flavors and scooped up all the garlic I could along with soft pieces of stuffed tomato with each bite of steak. We were all very impressed with that stuffed tomato.

You might think we'd be heading into tomato overkill at this point, but I could really never tire of tomatoes, and I was excited to check out dessert. I tend to get most excited about dessert when I'm at a restaurant that has a pastry chef, which Upstairs on the Square does.

Sweet tomato sorbet coupe

The coupe -- ice cream dessert -- astounded all of us with its fresh, complementary flavors. The little dish showcased olive oil ice cream, tomato sorbet, a red wine reduction, candied pine nuts, and a triangle of lemon-thyme shortbread sitting in whipped cream. I have a strange weakness for olive oil ice cream. I know it sounds bizarre, but if you love olive oil, you will love it. And I discovered tonight that it is especially tasty with tomato sorbet, which shockingly tasted just like fresh tomatoes in every bite. 

The candied pine nuts were unreal. You may remember from a past baking experience that I was none too fond of pine nuts in a sweet dessert, but candying the pine nuts changes everything. The sweet, crunchy nuts added another dimension of flavor and texture to the dish. 

And thyme is one of my favorite herbs, so of course I enjoyed the shortbread as well. It was not at all dry like shortbreads tend to be. I looked around the table after I had scraped up every last bit of my dessert and noticed that everyone else had done the same. We unanimously agreed that the dessert was just incredible.

Thank you, Michelle, Meghan, Alicia, and Daisy for joining me for dinner!

If you live near Harvard Square and are as obsessive about local summer tomatoes as the five of us, you must try this feast! (Just so you know... we all paid for our own dinners. This was just a night out with friends, not a blogger event.)

What is your favorite tomato dish?

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