In a city with Puritanical roots it is no wonder Bostonians love true American food. But the basics got boring, and along came a bunch of chefs who saw a way to enhance the dull dining of the past to put Boston on the culinary map. The simple fish and chips is no longer the menu mainstay that makes Bostonians return to their favorite area eateries again and again. These days, variety rules with ever evolving menus that put creative takes on the traditional.
A focus on all that is fresh, seasonal, and local has enhanced Boston's New American dining scene. Often, you will find menus filled with the names of the farms where the food was born. Not an easy task in a city that really experiences all the seasons. Cold winters with short days don't put a damper on dining. Farmer's preserve some of what they pick, and root vegetables can be stored to withstand the winter. But a local name alone does not win over the finicky palette, it is the manner in which the food is transformed that receives the prize. Take Journeyman's vegetable purees, mixed with ingredients like chocolate to rule out any chance of mistaking the beets for babyfood. Or Tremont 647's daring desire to fry their brussels sprouts to perfection-creating a crunchy bite of heaven from a once despised winter veg. Or even Garden at the Cellar's Cod Fritters that come with a citrus-infused remoulade, a New England classic transformed to spectacular when paired with a sensational sauce.
10 Tremont 647
Tremont 647 serves New American food in a relaxed South End setting. Serving dinner nightly and a weekend pajama brunch, Tremont 647 has a cult-like following. And if the laid back atmosphere that Chef Andy Husbands cultivates is not enough the food does not disappoint. Although the menu does change, some of the best options are the appetizers like the fried brussels sprouts, or their signature 647 pork momos. Entrees are also excellent, and everything is moderately priced with most entrees falling at or below $20. (617-266-4600)
9 Hungry Mother
This tiny Cambridge spot churns out some incredible New American cuisine with a southern spin. Filled with the flavor you'd think you'd only be able to savor in the deep south, Hungry Mother masters the classics, with a modern twist. The menu changes daily but could include such delights like a pecan crusted catfish, and Hoppin' John as well as fabulous appetizers like boiled peanuts. Be sure to save room for a side dish because if their skillet corn bread is on the menu, it can't be missed. (6174990090)
8 Eastern Standard Kitchen and Drinks
In the heart of Kenmore Square, moments away from Fenway Park sits Eastern Standard. A sophisticated restaurant with a fabulous bar that churns out out some the best New American cuisine in the city. Don't miss a course because each and every section of the menu contains something you must try, including dessert- the ice cream is churned fresh and flavors vary, but if you happy to be lucky enough to be there when they're serving the buttered popcorn ice cream, give it a try; this sweet/salty combination is shockingly good. If you like a good cocktail then Eastern Standard is a great place to sip away-the menu is a sophisticated list of libations. For those looking to avoid the booze but in need of more than the basic soda, enjoy one of Eastern Standard's anything but ordinary mocktails. (617-532-9100)
7 Washington Square Tavern
Washington Square Tavern is an upscale hangout where Brookline locals flock to enjoy fabulous New American cuisine at communal tables, or a bit of banter at the bar (often with the ever present, and extremely friendly owner). Lights are set low and create a sense of calm that permeates the entire place. A low key evening of conversation with strangers awaits. The word "rush" does not seem to be the dictionary here, because no one makes you feel that you can no longer linger over your last few sips of beer or bites of dinner. (617-232-8989)
6 Ten Tables
It's like eating in your friend's kitchen, but with strangers at the other 9 tables. That's right, Ten Tables original Jamaica Plain location is ONLY ten tables in size. What it lacks in size, Ten Tables makes up for in the food it serves and the experience of its guests. A focus on being a part of the community puts Ten Tables miles ahead of others in the quest for being green. The JP neighborhood loves Ten Tables so much that owners opened two more branches of this restaurant that focuses on organic, local ingredients (in Cambridge and Provincetown). Each has their own menu to showcase what each area has to offer and the Provincetown location even has its own garden where most of the vegetables are grown prior to being put on your plate. (617-524-8810)
Dining at EVOO, an acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil, is a night you won't soon forget. From the fabulous food to the chic space this eclectic New American restaurant sets the scene for fun. The menus feature organic, local and sustainable ingredients and is different each day. Lunch is reasonably priced with appetizers just entering the double digits and entrees in the teens. Dinner is served either as a prix fixe menu of three courses for $45 (paired with wine for $65) or a la carte with appetizers set at $11 and entrees $26. Whatever choice you make, it will be the right one, because at EVOO you cannot go wrong. (617-661-3866)
Serving contemporary American cuisine a a sophisticated setting that is focused on the area's freshest ingredients is what makes Harvest special. Add to that a a Harvard Square location and outdoor dining in it's private garden cafe and you have more than a meal, you have an event. The interior is pristine, welcoming and soothing with an open kitchen, comfortable bar, and a dining room complete with a fireplace. But it is the food that really shines at Harvest. Whether enjoying a laid back lunch (and meals at a fraction of the price of the more expensive dinner) , a special dinner, a cafe meal, or the $35, three course, prix fixe Sunday brunch you'll certainly devour what is on your plate. (617-868-2255)
3 Henrietta's Table
The elegant Charles Hotel is home to Henrietta's Table where seasonal, local cuisine is more than just a trend. Ahead of their time, Henrietta's has been churning out some of the best New England-inspired dishes, for more than a decade. The Sunday brunch buffets have garnered numerous awards over the years, thanks no doubt to the high quality cuisine that graces the layout, including made to order omelets, and carving stations as well as a gorgeous selection of grilled vegetable and a darn good raw bar. Country-chic decor makes diners feel at home while dining inside, and sidewalk seating is available, when the weather permits. (617-661-5005)
The industrial chic space in Somerville's Union square that serves one heck of a seasonal tasting menu at a relaxed pace makes Journeyman a true dining experience. From the friendly staff who share the service of your table to the explanations of the unknown, Journeyman offers guests the star treatment. The casual pace with which the food arrives, makes this an ideal destination for diners to chat with friends; and enjoy spending time as a group. An excellent choice for the "foodie", Journeyman offers two complete menu choices-with or without meat- in three, five and seven courses. The menu changes frequently to utilize the freshest local cuisine available; the flavors of which will literally explode in your mouth. The effort that goes into selecting the wines, beers and even the deliciously creative mocktails makes it well worth adding the beverage pairing. (617-718-2333)
1 Garden at the Cellar
Not your typical gastro pub, Garden at the Cellar is a treat for your taste buds.Serving New American cuisine that is local and seasonal is their specialty. Open for lunch, dinner and weekends for brunch, Garden at the Cellar is good anytime of day. With a focus on local ingredients their menu tends to feature spectacular specials. Offering many small plates, it is the perfect place to graze with friends. Garden at the Cellar has few seats, and does not take reservations; be prepared to wait. Located above a bar, waiting is not such a bad thing because the drinks they pour downstairs are just as good as the food served upstairs. (617-230-5880)
About Jessica Polizzotti
Born and raised in Boston, Jessica knows her city like the back of her hand. Always looking to uncover something new, Jessica keeps up on the latest and greatest Boston offerings.
Although Jessica has been a world traveler since her teens, her favorite trip may always be her Italian honeymoon.
Living in a city that allows her to experience a change in seasons equals an opportunity to enjoy a shift in activities. As the old New England cliché says, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.”
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