Lobster Risotto from The International in Bolton, MA

Admittedly, I thought I was being punked driving down the long, dark, winding road that leads to The International. I thought I took a wrong turn somewhere. But, no. Once I happened upon the amply-lit golf course and made my way over to The Fireplace Room, I knew I was in the right place. The International’s open-to-the-public restaurant is situated on a lovely parcel of land in Bolton and boasts a beautiful lodge with soaring ceiling, three walls of floor-to-ceiling windows and warm mood lighting.

The meal began with complimentary pita wedges accompanied by a homemade bean puree. They also provided a must-try sun-dried tomato focaccia. As I noshed on these starters, I perused the menu, which included everything from Cast Iron Swordfish to an herb-encrusted filet. Vegetarians would also be quite content at The International. A third of the appetizers are meat-free and they offer a vegetarian pizza as well as a cauliflower steak.

After consulting with our waitress, I settled on the Lobster and Pumpkin Risotto, an evening favorite. I was not quite sure what to expect. I’ve admittedly never seen a gourd and a lobster mingle on a plate. I was pleasantly stunned when I saw the most adorable little pumpkin bowl overflowing with a heap of steaming, creamy risotto along with chunks of Maine lobster, peas, Applewood smoked bacon, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

I was worried that this dish would taste like a Starbuck’s pumpkin latte with nutmeg and cinnamon. I was so wrong. The chef showed immense restraint in the seasoning of this dish. The chef truly allowed the flavors of each individual ingredient to stand out. The velvety asiago risotto was cut with the crunch of earthy pumpkin seeds. The sweetness of tender pumpkin was met with savory lobster chunks. This dish was incredible right down to the fact that the little gourd bowl was so thoroughly roasted that it was easily cut with the side of a fork. I’ve been thinking about this slice of heaven since leaving The International–the dish was just that good.

Our server won my vote the second I dove into the lobster risotto. She helped me decide to order this unusual flavor combination. She was attentive but unobtrusive. I nearly fell off my chair when she brought out individual, and perfectly tallied, checks without request. Our group is often large and many restaurants struggle with this task.

Given the beautiful setting, impeccable service, and drool-worthy food, I will be back at The International’s table. In fact, I’ve already planned a date night so I can return and try more of their fare. Who knew such fine cuisine and hospitality was right around the corner in Bolton? I, for one, was pleasantly surprised.