Met Back Bay has got it goin’ on. I’ve been there twice since it opened, and both times I have been thoroughly impressed with the food and how the place seems to fly under the radar on crowded Newbury St. On both visits I have been able to get a seat (once at a table, once at the bar) on a Saturday or Sunday around 1pm with no wait! Get to The Met soon, because once word gets out about the ham and cheese bar, getting a table or a spot at the bar won’t be so easy.
Wait, what? Ham and cheese bar? Yes you’ve read correctly, ham and cheese bar. The downstairs bar at Met Back Bay is partially devoted to all American cheeses and meats. The lunch menu has an a la carte section of said meat and cheese plus small vegetable plates like vine ripe tomato bruschetta, cauliflower and a trio of beets thus creating a full out antipasto party on your plate.
My first visit to Met Back Bay was on a Sunday and they were still serving the brunch menu. Even though the brunch menu looks fabulous (no really, Cap’n Crunch French Toast fabulous) I was really sad to discover that the Ham and Cheese is not served during brunch. Boo. I was in a lunch mood anyway so I tried the Eggplant Caprese Sandwich: house made mozzarella / thick cut tomato / fried eggplant / field greens / ciabatta. This was fantastic, the eggplant was sliced really thin and the bread was really fresh. Loved it.
The second time I went to Met Back Bay I made sure to go on Saturday to avoid the brunch menu, and sit at the downstairs bar to make sure I got some Ham and Cheese. This was last Saturday (right in the middle of the holiday shopping / mass exodus to Newbury St.) and I’m sure restaurants like Joe’s and Stephanie’s had 30 minute (at least) waits. Met Back Bay had a ton of open seats at the bar. I repeat: go soon before the secret of this this subterranean sanctuary on Newbury gets out and the tourist shoppers takeover!
For ham and cheese we decided to try the House Ham & Cheese board, where you can pick three cheeses and three hams. It’s expensive ($24) but its so much food, you could split this with a party of 6 and everyone would get plenty. We were going to order other food, but ended up only getting one more appetizer because it was so much (and we ended up bringing some home). For cheese we went with one cow, one goat and one sheep. Cow: Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (obsessed, or no?), Goat: Northstone, Sheep: Dandy – all from Vermont. CCC is my favorite of all time, so it’s no contest for the other two but I’d have to go with the goat over the sheep.
For Ham we tried the aged air-dried Ham (Tennessee), Prosciutto (Iowa, and the best Proscuit I’ve tried that comes from this side of the Atlantic), and Spicy Sopresatta (New Jersey). All were sliced to order. The sopresatta was the standout, Tony Sporano approved. It was spicy and very thinly sliced.
Finally we tried the Grilled Artichokes: mortar & pestle roasted garlic parmesan aioli. “Mortar & pestle roasted?” What the? Anyway…the artichokes were great and the aoli was EXTRA great, it made the dish.
I loved everything I’ve tried so far at Met Back Bay. I also love the space way more then when Joe’s occupied it, the downstairs bar has a lot of natural light and the modern bar is way more updated. I could sit down there for three hours just feasting on ham and cheese!