Confronted with an extensive and perplexing dinner menu, you:
a) Fake a seasoned palate and go for the sweetbreads.
b) Send the waiter away three times before panic ordering the roast chicken.
c) Ask your dining companion for her top two entrees, then opt for her also-ran.
d) Close your eyes and point.
Leave the decision making to Alex Crabb, whose first solo venture, Asta, opens tonight. The former L’Espalier chef forgoes a la carte for three nightly tasting menus that leave you one happy diner.
Settle into the intimate, 41-seat space and head straight for the five- and eight-course options emphasizing sophisticated, seasonal cooking. Wintertime morsels include artichoke custard with scallop chips, braised celery with black garlic gnocchi and chicken skin, and seaweed pasta with mussel foam. Prix fixe wine pairings take the guesswork out of complementary sips.
On nights you seek comfort over complexity, grab a seat at the open kitchen for three courses of rib-sticking fare like braised chicken thighs and coconut cream pie.
The choice is yours.
Asta, 47 Massachusetts Avenue, Back Bay (617-585-9575 or astaboston.com).
Photo: Stijn Nieuwendijk / Flickr