Restaurant GEM glimmers in Downtown Crossing
Tiffany Probasco | 8/28/2013, 11:27 a.m.
Big Night Entertainment Group has brought high-end venues like Shrine, Red Lantern and Empire to the city’s most high-traffic neighborhoods. One of the group’s latest projects is GEM Restaurant & Lounge, located just outside of Beacon Hill. The vamp-style supper club features a setting that brings in both midday diners and late-night revelers to dine in sumptuousness.
The dining room opens up to dark wood tones, plush maroon furniture and modern drapery. Round tables encourage guests to congregate in large groups while smaller tables line the walls promoting intimacy. During the day, sunlight floods through the windows that span the full length of the dining room. After dark, the lighting dims, and tassel shades cover rustic sconces and chandeliers.
In the bar, the dark color scheme continues; a large plush scarlet red booth is separated by tables and a long marble bar top optimizes movement within the slender space.
Drinks and Bites
Drinks like the “Tequila Tryst” (a combination of Don Julio Blanco, St. Germain, lime-agave and house strawberry) and the “Peach Bellini in St. Tropez” (Ciroc peach, passion fruit and bubbles) are for a sugary palate. The favorite of this visit was the “Cloud 9” (Hennessy VS, St. Germain and fresh citrus). The drink was well balanced, and the Hennessy blended expertly with the orange flavor. A drawback is that drink prices here are some of the highest, averaging $13-14.
Executive chef Kevin Long describes the restaurants’ menu: “For GEM we wanted to do a twist on the American tapas. [Most of our menu] is served family style: easy to nibble on, easy to share.”
One of the most popular items on the appetizer menu are the tater tots, which are potatoes blended with cheddar, green onion, fried and served with Russian dressing. These tots are crispy ovals rather than the traditional oblong shape. Though very crisp on the outside, they were a bit mushy on the inside and lacked the familiar robust potato and salty tastes.
The server, Peter, also suggested the fried semolina gnocchi seasoned with nutmeg and pecorino and served with a warm tomato sauce. The presentation was impeccable and the dish was a perfect symmetry of temperature and flavor. The gnocchi were light, crisp and fluffy, and the pecorino cheese gave the dish something extra. The paired warm tomato sauce could be a dish in itself — a must try.
It’s hard to botch up French fries, but GEM’s shoestring fries served with spicy ketchup (preferred) and Russian dressing, should be ranked amongst some of the best.
Any fan of beets would savor the beet salad roasted and served with summer peaches, local greens and goat cheese buttons in a Balsamic vinaigrette. Not only does the dish receive high scores for presentation, but more points are added for the freshness and the light crunch and harmony of the sweet and savory. Moving on to the next dish was a challenge.
The San Marzano tomato, mozzarella and parmigiano pizza tasted fire-roasted and is served in a size optimal for sharing. The combination of flavors popped, and the mozzarella cheese didn’t overpower.
For this review, the strawberry shortcake was served. GEM’s version of the popular summer treat was a crisp biscuit glazed in butter and honey before being topped with house-made whipped cream and market-fresh strawberries. It was simply delicious. The dessert menu changes daily, so it is worth asking the server for recommendations.
Saturdays and Sundays GEM is open late with revolving DJs. The crowd is stylish, and the music is upbeat.
A new addition to the entertainment roster is Brunch Club on Sunday afternoons, with a start time of 12 p.m. The kitchen stays open until 5 p.m., and the weekly DJ is a crowd pleaser.
Why You Should Visit
GEM is an ideal place to have a quiet meeting on a weekday afternoon or a pulsating fête of a late night on weekends. The atmosphere beckons with relaxation as you take in the decadent surroundings. Share a bite with the company of your choice, whether for business or pleasure.
42 Province Street, Boston, MA