The Foodie Scene Gets Cooking

Thank goodness for all the restaurants conceived and launched before the economy tanked. Per those best-laid plans, the past few months have seen a flurry of openings from the likes of Tony Maws (Craigie on Main), Frank McClelland (the “new” L’Espalier), Barbara Lynch (Drink, Sportello), Marc Orfaly (Restaurant L), Charles Draghi (Erbaluce), and Babak Bina and Azita Bina-Seibel (Bina). It was a busy, happy fall.

Now, sigh, we’re in a lull. It’s normal for January. But I fear an extended downtime as the credit crunch stops up the investment pipeline. How long will it take, post-recovery, before we see so many great new properties opening at the same time?

All’s not lost, though. I’m looking forward to several openings that are currently slated for January and February…

First, opening January 13, is Sensing, the looooong-awaited Guy Martin project at Regent Boston Fairmont Battery Wharf. Last spring, when Martin whisked in for a quick Boston press tour, he promised conceptual, modern food rooted in local ingredients, and the sample menu has me chomping at the bit: lobster salad with butternut squash chutney; smoked mussel and root beet tartar; seared scallops with celery, coriander, and apple (celery is seriously hot right now); and smoked trout-stuffed chicken breast with hazelnut oil polenta and chorizo sauce. Oh, please let it be as good as it sounds! I’ll be checking it out at a press dinner on Tuesday—tune in next Wednesday for a full report.

JP’s Ten Tables, long a BoMag favorite, is opening a second location in the former Craigie Street Bistrot space in very late January. Owner Krista Kranyak tells me, “We are awaiting the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission to send our wine and beer license!”

Finally, in early February (first week or two), Stephanie Sokolove will expand her Stephanie’s on Newbury brand with Stephi’s on Tremont in the old Garden of Eden space. The South End needs a good comfort food-y neighborhood hangout, and I can’t wait to see how Sokolove tweaks her menu to fit her new ‘hood.

A couple of other starters with less specific opening dates: Il Casale, Dante de Magistris’ casual neighborhood Italian spot in Belmont (right near his childhood home, so he’d better not get it wrong. Stress!) is coming in “early 2009.” Lastly, Tory Row, the newest outpost from the team behind Cambridge 1 and Miracle of Science, is opening “soon.” Waiting to hear when, exactly. Expect cool minimalist surrounds and good food, as always. I’ll post when I hear more details.