Sir Newton

1196802126Jeff Fournier is a busy guy. The young chef/owner of 51 Lincoln in Newton Highlands recently inked two significant deals on new projects; expect to hear much more about him in coming months.

In the first deal, he signed on as chef/owner of Vintage, the West Roxbury steakhouse with the historically great decor and uninspired food. His goal is to create what he calls a “contemporary American” restaurant, with the same high standards and creativity that earned him raves at 51 Lincoln.

“The pasta section is going to be a big deal,” Fournier told us. “I’m doing my Bolognese and a really nice orecchiete dish with spinach, walnuts, gorgonzola dolce fonduta, and crumbled amaretti cookies over the top.”

You’ll still be able to get a solid steak, but it might be served with horseradish cream and pan-roasted herbed potatoes. “It’s going to be a chef-driven restaurant,” Fournier says. “Before it was more corporate.” Prices will run $20-$36, which is a notch higher than at his flagship restaurant, but which will allow him to work with pricier meats, like the veal in his osso buco.

The second project is, to me, even more exciting: A freestanding cafe/catering company across the street from 51 Lincoln (in the old Ice Cream Works space) called Citrio Catering and Provisions. Working with colleagues Eric Bogardus (whom he cooked with at Pignoli and Locke-Ober) and Mark Stein, Fournier is aiming for a place with an old-fashioned/Slow Food appeal.

“We’ll be doing our own corned beef, ice cream, breads, pastas,” he says. “There will be a counter where you can get coffee and esperesso and pastries. Sandwiches on our fresh breads. And we’ll do grilled pizzas and pastas.”

The shop will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and will also offer catering services and a wholesale ice cream operation.

What’s most interesting about all this activity is that it’s taking place outside the city center. I asked Jeff if this was intentional… if being in more-affordable Newton and West Roxbury freed him up to take more risks.

“It’s much easier out here,” he says. “Because of the rent profile at 51 Lincoln, we were able to do a lot more with less money. Eventually in a couple of years, doing something that’s more of a show kitchen downtown wouldn’t be out of the question, but as I was just starting out, this is definitely how I wanted to do it.”