Name That Tune

South End debut Coda hits the right notes, but it’s an unfinished melody.


When old-time burger-and-jukebox joint Tim’s Tavern closed last winter, it left its successor with a choice: Lure back the bereaved South End barflies with honest grub and boozy affability, or go for the restaurant-row crowd. But Coda says nuts to that, instead mixing both down-home (yes, there is a great burger) and upscale touches (duck confit, frosted votives) in this smartly revamped space, which seats about 50 at small black tables, leather banquettes, and the marble-topped bar. Drinks are a good value, led by an $8 mule-kick berry caipirinha and a savvy list of wines averaging $30 a bottle. The food is likewise well priced, and also well prepared: stewpot-perfect short ribs, chicken wings so savory the sauce is an afterthought. Yet at eight to 10 basic entrées, the current menu is so abbreviated and generic it’s hard to tell what sort of restaurant Coda wants to be—and what, exactly, will keep folks coming back.

329 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-536-2632, codaboston.com. $$

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