Newbury Street is Boston's answer to New York's Fifth Avenue, Rome's Via Veneto, and Paris' Champs Elysees. Running through the Back Bay section of the city, Newbury Street is posh, elegant, sleek, and luxurious. It's here that you'll find furs from Kakas, diamonds from Shreves, and shoes from Gucci.
And like its European counterparts, Newbury Street offers a number of sidwalk cafes. Cafe Florian, at 85 Newbury, is a rather casual place to eat elegant French food. The interior of the 19-table restaurant is simple, but a little to bright to be called intimate.
Whatever else you order, definitely try the onion soup. Made with gruyere cheese, croutons, and big pieces of slivery onion, it's baked and then served steaming hot--very thick and very good.
If you're in the mood for a light meal, try a seafood dish or one of the omelettes. The omelettes come with fillings including shrimp, mushrooms and broccoli. The seafood is fresh and crispy. For $3-$4 you can eat Shrimp Louis, plump white shrimps on a bed of lettuce and eggs with dressing, or order a platter of fresh Crab Claws Matignon, very sweet and tender. And a real plus--Cafe Florian's lettuce isn't wilty or dark, and it's surprisingly fresh.
Dinners range from $4-$7 and can be ordered a la carte, but the list of hot foods is not extensive. Beef Bourgiunonne, Shrimps Arrozata with tomato and pepper, and Beef Tartare are among the offerings. If you're out late, remember that after 10 p.m. Cafe Florian stops serving hot foods. But you can get soups, seafoods, wine, and desserts up until 1 a.m. on weekend nights. It's one of the few places in that part of town open so late, and it's a natural stop after a night on the town--try it out. Small theaters, cinemas, and discos by night and art galleries, hair cutters, and outrageously expensive boutiques by day provide great entertainment.
Cafe Florian's wine list is simple and basic--Bordeaux, Pink Chardonnez, Soave and Valpolicella are a few of their offerings. Wine goes for $7-$9 a bottle, but you can order half bottles as well.
The Florian has some delicious hot coffees--big mugs of capuccino, cafe au lait, and mocha mit schlag grace their dessert menu, which changes every day. The chocolate seven layer cake was a little dry, and the caramel topping was harder than a candy apple. For something a little lighter, try a slice of their white butter-cream cake with almonds.
Service is bad; the waiters are rather brusque and apt to run off. When you catch up with them, they are somewhat supercilious and condescending, but they add atmosphere to the Newbury Street French dining experience.
In the summertime, Cafe Florian moves outside to the sidewalk, so you can sit back and watch the passers-by once the weather warms up.
Check out the Cafe Florian and get a taste of Newbury Street. It's a Boston experience you really shouldn't miss.