Sign of the Times

From the gentle kitsch to the north-of-the-border nods that are clever—never fromage-y—Café du Pays nails the 2017 zeitgeist with pitch-perfect aplomb. Ahead, we break down the restaurant’s of-the-moment details.

Photograph by Toan Trinh

1. A sustainable ethos. The layered Acadian Frappe is served up with a spring of mint—and an American-made Aardvark compostable paper straw.

2. Obsessively curated background music. Co-owner Evan Harrison created five super-specific playlists, including one with French-Caribbean tunes and another heavy on Québec-connected folk rock (think Neil Young).

3. Seamlessly integrated vegan and plant-based options. A meat-free spin on the deep-fried pork-jowl snack oreilles de crises, for example, is made with mixed cultivated and wild mushrooms, maple sugar, and nutritional yeast.

4. A menu that comfortably straddles the high- and low-brow. Why, of course we’ll take a side of chicken-skin gravy poutine with our coq au vin–style rabbit. And will you be sipping Molson or Châteauneuf-du-Pape tonight?

5. Unexpected glassware. To us, these look more like bistro-style water glasses than the long-stemmed vin vessels we’re used to. Hey, all the more room for a generous pour.

6. DIY décor. The seven-person ownership team did all of the interior-design work themselves, transforming the old Hungry Mother space into a moody, boutique-y bistro with a thoughtful assemblage of found artifacts, including some 20 antique lamps restored by local legend Jerry Gordon, of Cambridge’s Fun Antiques.

See more from our 2017 Top New Restaurants feature.

Jenna Pelletier Jenna Pelletier, Food Editor at Boston Magazine