Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tuna Tartare and Fish Tacos at 3 in Franklin, MA

Tuna Tartare Starter from 3
We were out on a business trip, and no one could decide where to eat, so we turned to our hotel clerk for a recommendation. This recommendation led our party straight to a restaurant called 3 that advertises itself as "New American" cuisine- classic dishes with a modern twist according to their website. This description, we found, is pretty much right on the money...

3 has a large dining room decorated in warm tones- mostly tans and browns. The space is large, and fairly noisy, but in a fun and inviting way. The walls feature artwork that are plays on the restaurant's name- some more clever than others. The overall impression is that the place is trendy, but still friendly, inviting, and relatively casual.

The dinner menu features a strong variety of offerings- mostly classic dishes with an upscale twist to them, as well as a selection of sandwiches, steaks, and thin crust pizza. The selections covered a somewhat broad variety, and was a little on the large side, but did not seem to be overloaded or unfocused. Some of the selections were clearly regional favorites- lobster mac and cheese, for example- something clearly New England inspired.

For a starter, I went with something a little extravagant- the Tuna Tartare.  What arrived at the table was a massive, cucumber wrapped tower on a bed of colorful sauces topped with a tangle of crispy fried wonton strips. Despite the size and intimidating appearance, this was actually a perfectly sized portion that was actually very light and refreshing. The bulk of the tower was a light salad of chopped tomato and avocado, with a layer of tuna tartare in between and on top. The tuna was chopped finely and dressed with a sauce that had a good balance of sweetness and smoky notes. The tuna itself was a close match in texture to the avocado, with the fresh tomato and the crispy wonton strips providing contrast. The sauces included a vinaigrette laced with a little wasabi and a soy reduction, adding a touch of heat and tang to the equation. Overall, this was a visually stunning dish, that was also an enjoyable light starter.

My entree were the Spicy Fish Tacos. This featured spiced, seared chunks of Mahi Mahi on a tortilla with a fresh cabbage slaw, a cilantro laced aioli, and a squeeze of lime. On the side was a little extra pico de gallo and a handful of fresh tortilla chips, with more of the aioli for dipping. The Mahi Mahi could have had a little more spicy punch, but was, overall very good- the dense, meaty fish was a nice contrast to the crunchy slaw, and the aioli really tied the two together. Fish Tacos are really more of a West Coast thing rather than an East Coast, or New England thing, but I like them, so I have a hard time passing them up when I can find ones done right, and these were done right- again a good, interesting dish, executed with precision and a sense of style. It was portioned perfectly- I left feeling satisfied but not weighed down. It had a light feel, while still being substantial enough for a main course.

The wait staff at 3 was attentive and professional. The atmosphere, while somewhat noisy and trendy, was fun and comfortable. The beverage selection was varied and featured quality selections- although we mainly stuck with the excellent selection of regional microbrews - my Long Trail IPA from Vermont worked well with the spicier notes in my meal, as would most of the more local selections from the Samuel Adams catalog. I would easily return to 3 for a second (or third) trip the next time I find myself n the area.

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