Best Museum Café - 2006
Café 1451 at the Norton Museum of Art
In thematically seamless style, Café Chef Marc Benoit has whipped up a little something to pair with the Norton's excellent impressionism and Matisse exhibits this year, not to mention its stellar permanent collection of impressionists -- a menu of French-accented small plates, soups, and salads as varied as the many faces and moods of Monsieur Matisse's favorite model, Laurette. Nibble on paper-thin slices of smoked salmon brushed with cr?me fra?che and flecked with capers, explore a palette of assorted French cheeses with crusty bread, or apply a thick impasto of sinfully rich chicken liver mousse and port jelly to crostini. More substantial are a classic croque monsieur; a niçoise sandwich of tuna, olive tapenade, and roasted peppers; or full luncheon entrées including snapper á la Provençale, steak minuit, and omelette du jour filled with Comte cheese, French ham, and spinach. Add final varnish to a lovely meal with French roast coffee, a pear tarte amandine, or fallen chocolate soufflé cake in an atmosphere utterly conducive to the contemplation of beauty.