I've been waiting for several years for a place like True Bistro to open in Boston and I'm thrilled that it has finally arrived. The restaurant has a trendy, upscale feel to it and the food is a step above most of the other vegan fare found in New England.
The menu seems to focus on traditional American fare with a modern twist: items like "french fries tossed with porcini-infused oil and fleur du sel" and "seitan piccata with a lemon & caper white wine sauce" grace its neatly-printed pages. Each section contains at least one raw option for those who eschew foods that are heated above 112 degrees F.
I started my meal with a glass of sangria, which was refreshing but not particularly authentic-tasting (I got the sense that they made it by mixing red wine with fruit juice, instead of infusing the wine with fresh fruits overnight). For my appetizer, I ordered the butternut squash ravioli, which turned out to be my favorite dish of the evening. The sweet cinnamon-scented ravioli were served al dente with a savory cream sauce drizzled generously on top. The plate contained just enough ravioli to leave me feeling satisfied with the offering without spoiling my appetite for the main course.
No sooner had my waitress whisked away my empty ravioli dish than my entree arrived. The seitan piccata turned out to be a perfectly-textured juicy seitan steak that came with a somewhat less-inspiring mound of garlic-infused mashed potatoes and broccolini. It would have been a winning dish if the accompaniments had been a tad moister and more flavorful (for example, if the mashed potatoes had been topped with butter or gravy).
I finished the meal with the "Death-by-chocolate cake," which my waitress was raving about. Sadly, I thought it was the weakest component of the meal. The "cake" turned out to be a heavy, bitter chocolate mousse with a hint of soy in the aftertaste. It came topped with "creme anglaise," which was largely flavorless, and "crunchy shattered caramel," which, although quite delicious, was used a bit too sparingly to make up for the unevenness of the rest of the dessert.
Overall, I would say that True Bistro is comparable-in-spirit to Horizons (in Philadelphia) and Blossom (in NYC) but, at this point, the food isn't quite on par with that of these dynamos of vegan haute cuisine. That said, the restaurant has enormous potential. It has already attracted quite a following among young, hip Bostonians. With a little attention to the side dishes (and, perhaps, a dedicated vegan pastry chef on staff), it could be one of the top culinary destinations for vegans in the US.