Restaurant Openings

The 80 Thoreau Team Debuts the Mooncusser Fish House in Boston

Here is chef Carolyn Johnson's classic New England seafood menu at the new Back Bay restaurant.

Sea Bass at Mooncusser Fish House. / Photo by Brian Samuels

Even before Ian Calhoun and Vincent Vela opened their ambitious 80 Thoreau restaurant in Concord back in 2011, they wanted to open a place in Boston, says chef Carolyn Johnson. That day has finally arrived: The trio opens Mooncusser Fish House this weekend at 304 Stuart Street.

Inspired by owner Calhoun’s childhood summers on Mooncusser Lane in East Dennis, the restaurant aims “to become the city’s definitive seafood restaurant,” Calhoun says in a press release.

Johnson, who’s also behind the line at 80 Thoreau, is keeping things classic and seasonal, with dishes like fluke crudo, local seared scallops with kelp and braised potatoes; striped bass with beans, cabbage, and truffle; and house-made seared gnocchi with mustard, chanterelles, and uni. Check out the full opening menu below.

“We’ll be switching to corn and tomatoes soon; as things come into season they’ll find their way onto the menu,” she says.

The kitchen is sourcing mainly whole fish, which gives the team a chance to craft seafood charcuterie in-house, and offer short-run specials, like fish cheeks and collars. The nightly offerings also include a five-course, chef’s tasting menu available to order; unlike at 80 Thoreau, reservations aren’t necessarily required for that experience.

“We’re pushing for a step above to elevate the dining experience,” Johnson says.

The dessert menu is courtesy of 80 Thoreau’s pastry chef Katherine Hamilburg, and owners Calhoun and Vela are curating the wine and beer selections. Eventually, they hope to have a wine list 500 bottles deep, including many options under $50.

Mooncusser seats 60 on the third floor of a 100-year-old, triangular brick building, which formerly housed a location of the Italian restaurant Viga. The elegant, minimalistic design was led by Dan Raih of Cambridge firm Bruner/Cott. Travel though an atrium staircase to the intimate dining room, with three, 15-foot windows overlooking Columbus Avenue. Later this summer, a more casual Moon Bar will open on the first floor.

Mooncusser opens Saturday, July 22, at 5 p.m., and will serve dinner Monday-Saturday until 11 p.m.

Mooncusser Fish House, 304 Stuart St., Back Bay, Boston, 617-917-5193, mooncusserfishhouse.com.

Blue Fish Pate at Mooncusser Fish House. / Photo by Brian Samuels

Salted Caramel Macarons at Mooncusser Fish House. / Photo by Brian Samuels


Jacqueline Cain Associate Food Editor at Boston Magazine jcain@bostonmagazine.com