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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Roast half chicken with alfalfa and clover hay, $22

Of all the presentations, though, mushrooms “under glass” ($15) is the most curious and arresting. It’s a superior sauté of wild mushrooms on homemade brioche toast, mixed with crumbled house-made cheddar and served under a high glass cloche that looks like something from a 19th-century specimen lab. The lifting of the bell-shaped cover makes for a heady olfactory experience—too heady, actually, owing to insufficiently burned-off alcohol from the white wine that Herritt sprinkles over the mushrooms and cheddar at the last minute. The glass is Herritt’s tribute to the fancy pheasant recipes that have appeared in The Virginia Housewife and James Beard cookbooks. Ultimately, it fails. But it fails in an interesting, ambitious way that makes you wonder what his next historical adventure will be.

Beyond the dates on the menu, you won’t learn much from it—or from the servers—unless you ask, and even then their answers won’t necessarily match what Herritt says. True, nobody wants to read a Wikipedia entry on a menu, but a bit more background would help. Another glitch: It’s nice that the bread is heated to order, and that when it comes it’s a fresh homemade dinner roll with good butter, but it’s less nice that the server doesn’t tell you this, and that even if she encouragingly puts butter on the table, the bread might not come until the first courses do.