Restaurant Review: Kitchen in the South End

Scott Herritt's new South End restaurant is a welcome glimpse into the past.
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The mussel soup Billi Bi is one of Kitchen’s many homages to historical American cuisine.

The Child-inspired sole ($24), however, would fail to convert her to the wonders of cooking. Unlike the glorious dish that made Meryl Streep swoon in Julie & Julia, this one was mealy, soggy, cool, dull of flavor, and pallid beige of hue. “Hamburg steak” ($19) was another misfire—house-ground chuck cooked in an oval patty as hamburgers originally were, but terribly salty and a little gristly, with shoestring fries that were underbrowned.

Desserts are also eclectic, and two were very good: balls of cake doughnuts ($9), made from chef de cuisine Eric LeBlanc’s grandmother’s recipe, fried to order and served over a fruit purée with vanilla sauce; and a looser-than-usual crème brûlée ($8, no longer on the menu) with a darker-than-usual caramel cover, accompanied by caramelized figs.

Kitchen is a touching, lovely meeting of old and new. When I asked Herritt how he got the Billi Bi to have such a silky vichyssoise-like texture, he said the cooks pushed it through a sieve a couple of times. Same with the sauce for the lobster thermidor: “We try to do everything by hand.” At a time when most chefs want to buy the highest-tech new toys, I’d like to see some of them—and our city—take this parallel track. This isn’t fascinating, avant-garde food you’re glad just to have tried once. This is true sustenance—the food you want to keep coming back for.

 

Kitchen, 560 Tremont St., Boston, 617-695-1250, kitchenbostonmass.com.

 

Other Menu Highlights:

Cake doughnuts, $9
Buffalo frogs’ legs, $12
Bacon-wrapped scallops, $14

 

Critic Corby Kummer—an editor at The Atlantic and author of The Pleasures of Slow Food—has been reviewing Greater Boston’s top restaurants in our pages since 1997.


Corby Kummer Corby Kummer, Contributing Editor at Boston Magazine ckummer@theatlantic.com