New Restaurant: Waban Kitchen in Newton

Chef Jeffrey Fournier introduces another buzzy bistro to the suburbs.

Waban Kitchen newtonPhoto by Connor Sumner

Newton has been getting more than its fair share of fine dining lately. There’s the homey Farmstead Table, which opened this past August in Newton Centre, and Sycamore, which the chef David Punch (of Ten Tables fame) launched in the same neighborhood in December. And then there’s Waban Kitchen, a tiny new spot from Jeffrey Fournier.

A veteran of Boston institutions like the Met Club and the now-shuttered Locke-Ober, Fournier has for years offered sophisticated classics (chicken under a brick, handmade rigatoni Bolognese) at 51 Lincoln, his Newton Highlands hot spot. At Waban Kitchen (in the space formerly occupied by the Mediterranean eatery Kouzina), Fournier has traded 51 Lincoln’s date-night ambiance for a more casual vibe. The place feels like a neighborhood restaurant, with exposed-brick walls, an open kitchen, and mason-jar candleholders, but the menu reflects Fournier’s playfully upscale leanings—think chocolate-braised wild-boar ragout ($32), accompanied by a citrusy fennel salad and a cornbread “cupcake” topped with goat-cheese frosting; and a gooey lobster “soufflé dip” ($12, pictured above) that comes with a generous portion of hand-rolled flatbread.

There are more-traditional dishes, too, like the aforementioned Bolognese ($15 for a half portion, $25 for a full)—brought over from 51 Lincoln—as well as parsley-dotted Wagyu steak tartare ($11) with a silky mustard aioli and a pile of thick handcut fries. Perhaps most satisfying are the desserts, which are all whimsical takes on pie: enormous slices in varieties like honey custard, peanut butter mousse, and pecan.

Fournier says that establishing another restaurant here made excellent business sense: He gets the same affluent diners he’d attract at a downtown locale, but pays less in rent. “The mayor here, Setti Warren, has been business-friendly,” Fournier says. “And there’s a clientele that appreciates the food and doesn’t feel like they have to go to the city to get it.” Now that other star chefs are seeing the merits of going west, we might start spending a lot more time in the ’burbs, too.

1649 Beacon St.,