Journeys

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Journeys Restaurant celebrates 1/20th Century

Journey's Journeys, the little restaurant that could -- and still can -- celebrated it's fifth anniversary with a special dinner this week.
Actually, Bram Fowler, who owns and operates the restaurant with his wife, Geraldine, and serves as the chef, says they prefer to refer to the milestone as the restaurant's half-decade anniversary. I suppose that shows some optimism for continued success -- a sort of glass-half-full philosophy.
To be honest, I never thought Journeys would see a first anniversary, let alone a fiver. I certainly had no qualms with the food -- it was all delicious, well-prepared and of high quality. But I worried about the location. It took over a spot in Longwood Village Shoppes down a short lane of storefronts, out of view of anyone driving by even in the parking lot. Other restaurants had tried their hand in that spot, the most recent at the time was a very nice Italian restaurant called Figaro's. And the Fowlers had never owned a restaurant before. It's a tough business for people who have been in it for a long time; tougher for neophytes, and even worse for neophytes in a lousy location.
But against the odds, Journeys has prevailed.

Journey's anniversary dinner was a reservations-only closed event held Wednesday at the Longwood restaurant with guests paying $125 for the seven-course meal with wine pairings.

The evening started on the patio with smoked salmon and American caviar served on blinis, and fresh oysters on the half-shell, paired with L'Aubry Fils nonvintaged brut sparkling wine.

Guests were then invited into the dining room where tables had been assembled into four or five long tables for 8-10 diners each. Someone at my table commented that it was a little like dining on a cruise ship where you're seated with people you don't know.

The first seated course featured Boston bibb and arugula lettuce dressed in mandarin vinaigrette topped with half of a small Maine lobster. It was a little awkward coaxing the meat out of the shell, and a little messy, too, but it was a substantial salad. A Star Lane sauvignon blanc (2006) accompanied the salad.

The next course was supposed to have featured black grouper wrapped in cellophane. Instead, Fowler said he decided to just bake the fish sans cellophane because unwrapping the fish would have been too messy for the guests. Those of us who had struggled with the lobster were relieved by that. A 2005 Dierberg chardonnay that was too big and buttery on its own mellowed with the fish sauce of lemongrass and coconut milk.

The pulled duck confit in a cannelloni fashioned out of puffed pastry was my favorite. The meat was tender and juicy and the pastry had a nice crispiness. It was topped with a small lobe of seared Hudson Valley foie gras and graced with a sauce of pomegranate seeds and orange cauliflower. Dierberg's 2005 pinot noir, a chewy, fruit-forward wine, was the perfect match.

Medallions of buffalo tenderloin dotted with four peppercorns followed, matched by the Star Lane cabernet sauvignon (2005). I preferred to stick with the pinot, which also went well with the cognac cream sauce.

Pumpkin creme brulee, served in tiny, hollowed pumpkins, was a whimsical dessert. It ws followed by a cheese course, back on the patio, with Port and Madiera for those who wished to linger.

The sold-out dinner was populated mostly by regulars, which is the way it should be. Judging from the reaction of the guests, they will help see the Journeys through the second half of the decade.