Teranga: A surprise in the South End
Senegal, a West African country known more for its music than its food, is an interesting balance of North African, French, and Portuguese influences. Senegalese cuisine, however, deserves a special acknowledgement for the ingenious way it combines root vegetables, nuts, and seafood. Last weekend, I stopped by Teranga in Boston’s South End. By the end of the night, after a filling three-course meal, it was agreed upon that this modern yet comfortable restaurant was a new favorite.
Upon walking in, we were greeted by a friendly yet busy staff that seated us at the bar. Striking, sophisticated four-by-four pieces of art and an interesting wine rack decorated the restaurant. The Senegalese mbalax played softly in the background.
To start, we shared the Croquettes de Poisson and the Salade Ordinaire. First the croquettes: three fried fish cakes with a cilantro sauce. The croquettes were delicious but it was the cilantro sauce, with hints of garlic and lime, which gave the dish its kick. The salad was interesting as it combined root vegetables with lettuce and a sweet coconut and lime dressing. The combination was a little heavy for a starter, but other than that quite good.
For the main course, we split the Thiebou Djeun and the Thiebou Yap. The Thiebou Djeun is the national dish of Senegal–a combination of locally-found ingredients. Herb-stuffed white fish cooked in tomato stew was served with broken jasmine rice served with cassava, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, and pumpkin. The meal was served beautiful, with the whole fish still on the bone. It was lightly roasted and fell right off the bone. The broken jasmine rice looked like couscous at first and was very soft; it was topped with a delicious, nutty gravy. The vegetables were perfectly roasted and slightly nutty. The Thiebou Yap was a perfectly round mound of rice with chunks of lamb scattered throughout. The rice was so moist and savory, again with nutty undertones. The slices of lamb, however, were the highlight of the dish. The lamb was tender and moist, but it would have been better served with more chunks in the rice. The plantain fries were long strips of lightly fried plantain. While not typical fries, they were delicious and not overdone.
Dessert was the Beignets Dougoup and the Mango Tarte Tatin. The spices and fruits in the dishes were beautifully balanced and delicately aromatic. The Beignets Dougoup were three mini, dense pastries flavored with nutmeg and vanilla bean with hints of orange. The pastries sat in condensed milk, perfect for dipping. The Mango Tarte Tatin was infused with rum and topped with cream and fruit. It was sweet and small, a perfect end to the meal.
Though pricey, Teranga is worth the price for a meal which isn’t typically found in the Boston food scene.
Food (taste): B+
Food (presentation): A
1746 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118
Neighborhoods: South End