Light My Fire

The scoop on Shepard, in Cambridge.

shepard restaurant cambridge

Photograph by Nina Gallant

Smoke, as a savory accessory, has become the culinary meme of the year. And no one in town is embracing the allure of wood-kissed cookery more than Shepard co-owners Susan Regis (formerly of UpStairs on the Square) and René Becker (Hi-Rise Bread Company). Thanks to a roaring hearth that divides the dining room from the Julia Child–inspired kitchen, nothing is exempt from the campfire incense of red oak and applewood—not the North Star Sheep Farm lamb legs twirling above the open flames, nor any casual bystander strolling within a three-block radius.

That elemental flavor can be seen everywhere on Shepard’s menu: the bivalves dotted with house-churned nasturtium butter, the grilled doughnuts with coffee ice cream, even the range of expert pastas—all prepared with whole grains toasted in the residual heat of the oven. “Simple is hard,” Regis says. “Any given dish could be aged, roasted, coated, and wood-smoked—there’s a lot more to it than it seems. There’s a refinement to the simplicity.”

One Shepard St., Cambridge, 617-714-5295,