Saturday, June 11, 2011

Teranga - Senegalese in the South End

To celebrate a coworker's departure we had a nice team dinner out at Teranga in the South End - due in large part to my coworkers new position in an African Studies office. I'm so happy with whoever made the decision to go here because it was a really unique, delicious meal! The owner is from Senegal and the website tells a lovely story of how she grew up in a family of business owners, feeling the need to do so herself. 'Teranga' means hospitality in Wolof, one of the Senegalese languages. The Senegalese cuisine is a mixture of French, Asian, Arabic, and African concepts -                                                                                          and your menu options are vast.
1746 Washington Street, South End, Boston
The location on Washington St. means street parking, but the meters stop charging at 8:00pm I believe. The restaurant is small - probably less than ten tables, but there is also a bar and overall the place is well decorated and classy. I love any restaurant with exposed brick walls. Given the smaller size, the servers are always available - and so friendly! When I go to a new restaurant like this I like sharing dishes so that I can try more than just one thing. With five of us ladies out we were able to try so many great dishes!

To start with we ordered a few appetizers for the table. They also brought a fresh bread to the table with a spicy dip (too spicy for me, but very flavorful!). At someone's suggestion we got a bottle of Hill and Dale Pinotage from the Stellenbosch region in South Africa. I really enjoyed this wine - enough to take a picture so that I would remember the bottle for the future. As the appetizers started arriving I noticed they were in servings of 3, so keep that in mind when ordering for the table. The restaurant was also very quiet until about 7:15pm - we were the only ones there for a while.

Appetizers: Vegetarian Nems (6), Fataya (7), Croquettes de Poisson (7)

To the left here you see the Fataya - "a savory pastry stuffed with seasoned fish filling (tuna) and served with sriracha sauce." At a catering event at work Teranga also made vegetarian fatayas, which I think I would like better but these were still great. I liked the little decorative side salad which had a nice dressing on it, so between that and the bright yellow sriracha sauce, the flavor additions were nice.
The vegetarian nems were my favorite - absolutely delicious. They also have nems on the menu with chicken and beef inside. They're Teranga's answer to the spring roll - an influence from the Asian part of their cuisine. The plating for all of these appetizer dishes was just lovely - the sauce in the spoon made it easy to dole out the sauce and share. I probably could've eaten this whole plate myself! They also weren't too oily, which is often the problem with fried spring rolls.
The last appetizer we shared was the Croquettes de poisson, a pan fried savory fish cake (flounder) served with cilantro and garlic sauce. Given my love affair with cilantro, this one definitely grabbed my attention. Of the three this is the one I'd be least likely to order again I think - but not because I disliked the dish, only because I liked the other two better. Notice the servings of 3 I mentioned earlier, so if you have 3 or 6 people in your party it will work nicely.
Entrees: Thiebou Djeun (15), Mafe (14), Yassa Guinaar (14), Brochettes de Poulet (15), Michoui (17)

To the left here is the Brochettes de Poulet - skewered chicken served with alocco (friend sweet plantains) and onion and sriracha sauce. Highly recommend any of these entrees, but this one was great, especially if you're a little nervous about trying something really different.
My personal choice was the Thiebou Djuen, considered the Senagalese National Dish: an herb-stuffed white fish cooked in tomato stew with broken jasmine rice served with cassava, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant and pumpkin. I'm not sure that all of those listed vegetables were actually on the dish, but I enjoyed it. I didn't like that the fish wasn't served de-boned - it makes me nervous when I'm eating, like I have to be really cautious. The fish was also a tad overcooked, a little dry. Just as with the other dishes though, the flavors were there.
More importantly, the dish I wish I had ordered, the Michoui, was chosen by one of my coworkers. It's a marinated roasted lamb shank served with a caramelized onion sauce and moroccan couscous. It was definitely the most flavorful of the four entrees I tasted - just absolutely delicious (if you like lamb of course). It fell off the bone and was covered in that delicious onion sauce.
The Mafe is a lamb stew with carrots, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and cabbage in a ground nut sauce and served with jasmine rice. This one is definitely more difficult to share and I didn't have the chance to try it - but my manager said she really enjoyed it.
Last, but not least, my departing coworker ordered the Yassa Guinaar, a marinated grilled chicken cooked in a lemon and caramelized onion sauce and served with jasmine rice. We were teasing her a little as she is an admitted non-sharer, but I think she's probably glad she did because she loved it so much she ate every single bite! I thought it was great that every single entree was really juicy and had plenty of the sauce described on the menu - no dry meals here! I did notice though that my dish was the only one that came with vegetables - which I really like, even if I am splurging on a decadent meal out.
Desserts: Creme Rose (6), Beignets Dougop (6), Crepes (8), Mango Tarte Tatin (6)

These Beignets Dougoup were not your typical beignets - which are usually more round, light and fluffy in my experience. These were described as  "crispy fried millet donut mixed with vanilla bean and orange flower water served with creme anglaise sauce." They were a little heavy, but still tasty - though the plating was a little messy.
The Creme Rose, a "spice infused sorrel creme brulee served with seasonal fresh fruits," was not your usual creme brulee texture. It was still good - but shouldn't have been marketed as a creme brulee I don't think, which is usually much smoother and creamier. The plating was nice though.
The Mango Tarte Tatin was a mango and spice flavored tart served with creme fraiche. It seemed like more of a cake to me - and it might have been helpful to have the creme fraiche in a separate bowl so it wasn't a melted mess with the plate arrived. I think this one was my favorite. Finally, the Crepes were described as, "french crepes stuffed with exotic fruits and serve with creme anglaise and caramel sauce.' The serving was large, definitely enough to share and I apologize for not getting a picture!

I would definitely come back to Teranga. The food was flavorful and so different - a nice change of pace from going out for something more typical, like Asian, Mexican or Italian. I highly recommend trying it out for yourself - and if you've been for other African food, like Ethiopian, it's still very different. No eating with your hands here! The portions were generous but not overboard, and there is enough on the menu that everyone can find something they like - even if you have some picky people in your dinner party! I've also been told that the restaurant does a fabulous job catering.

1 comment:

  1. It was delish! You will definitely have to come to African Studies events in the future for more Teranga yumminess.

    And for the record, I'd share in a group of two or three, but with six people, I just wanted to eat my own dinner! :)