25 Best New Restaurants in Boston 2015: The List
Liquid Art House
100 Arlington St., Boston,
This high-concept art gallery meets fine-dining restaurant feels like a Reagan-era flashback. Everything in the glitzy marbled space is for sale, from T-shirts to the $90,000 purple chandelier hanging over the circular foyer bar—a preferred watering hole for bougie tipplers. Yet the food sings. Greed is good, but gluttony is better, and chef Rachel Klein’s marvelous, globe-spanning menu has earned the adulation of well-heeled tastes. Among her communal roasts, Green Circle chickens are fattened from the fancy scraps of high-end restaurants like Per Se. Main courses such as pork loin with Chinese sausage and Tokyo turnips are artfully presented. And Klein’s pierogies with corn and pickled watermelon rind are exemplars of the form.
650 E. Kendall St., Cambridge,
With all the hype surrounding Café ArtScience, Cambridge thought it was getting an up-to-the-minute, if icy, food lab with some boozy, tech-bent interludes in between. And sure, it got that. But it also got the most expert French food Boston has seen in years, thanks to Eastern Standard alum Patrick Campbell, whose immaculate menu features a beautifully flavored foie-gras terrine and the best roast chicken since Hamersley’s closed its doors. A stripped-down lunch service harbors one of the city’s great under-the-radar burgers—tallow-basted ground chuck and Old Bay aioli are involved—and a minor gastronomic revelation (drumroll: a Greek salad…with pommes frites). And oh, those elaborate beverages. Like he did at Clio, cocktail savant Todd Maul proves that centrifuge-driven concoctions aren’t just parlor tricks.
11 Fan Pier Blvd., Boston,
Even if you’re skeptical of Mario Batali’s Crocs and larger-than-life persona, you can’t deny that he has a knack for building a proficient, well-oiled machine. Babbo is flush with attentive servers and kitchen staffers adroit in the canon of modern Italian classics. Just as soon as you take a sip from a stiff Negroni, your ramekin of chili-spiked Sungolds and marinated tuna appears alongside the complimentary basket of crackly bread. Begin sampling from a menagerie of local cheeses, such as Wolf Meadow’s tangy caciotta, and the twirl of the area’s sunniest carbonara is already hitting the table. But perhaps the biggest surprise here is the value, with most pizzas and pastas clocking in under $15. There’s a reason why the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality empire is, well, an empire. And it’s not the Molto Mario–approved souvenirs lining the foyer.
660 Cambridge St., Cambridge,
Well versed in 18th- and 19th-century New England cookbooks, Loyal Nine chef Marc Sheehan is taking the admirable yet frightening first step toward reviving a once-proud regional cuisine that had been reduced to chowder and baked beans. His brand of “East Coast Revival,” an homage to Boston’s rich culinary history, is bringing so much more than hoary historical food. Pastry chef Adam Ross’s use of heirloom grains is resulting in some of the richest-flavored bread in Boston. Sheehan’s championing of long-ignored herbs and pickles dovetails seamlessly with today’s house-made mania. And some of those weirder-sounding options, like fried soldier beans, smoked mackerel, and soused mullet on lush Boston brown bread, are improbably addictive.
Chef Chang’s on Back Bay
30 Massachusetts Ave., Boston,
Tucked into a Back Bay basement and decorated with a baffling mix of Beijing opera masks, stray Christmas decorations, and a mural of staid Victorian brownstones, Chef Chang’s looks like a mash-up of a London tearoom and the Chinese restaurant in A Christmas Story. Sure, it serves takeout standards like General Gao’s, but if you ordered that, you’d be missing out on owner John Chang’s expertly rendered dishes from the Xinjiang and Shaanxi provinces: bites of Bashu-flavored fried chicken with green capsicum chilies, and a show-stopping whole fish braised in black-bean gravy studded with star anise. Who knows, maybe there is some logic to the Christmas lights after all, since it’s impossible not to feel like you’re on holiday (at least from the norm) at this tiny slip of a restaurant.
15 Third Ave., Burlington,
’Burbs, say hello to the swankiest of steakhouses. With high-end touches like Carrara-marble countertops, enormous Oriental rugs, Parisian flea-market finds, and even an Andy Warhol room, the Bancroft feels like a Gatsby-era chophouse of yore. Chef Mario Capone’s dry-aged rib-eyes and bone-in filets only add to the occasion-dining attitude, with haute accoutrements like smoked black salt, hot Roquefort butter, and charred avocado. For a real treat, take a turn on the steel catwalk and peruse the glassed-in, 3,000-bottle wine mezzanine stocked with rare vintages of Margaux and trophy pinots from the West Coast. Because hey, if you’re going to spring for a hulking Tomahawk chop, why settle for a glass of merlot? We’ll take ours with a bottled Hub Punch and a sidecar of Coravin-dispensed Amarone.
Centre Street Café
669A Centre St., Jamaica Plain,
A Jamaica Plain fixture renowned for its Sunday brunch, Centre Street Café has been transformed by the Tres Gatos team into the type of neighborhood spot that draws regulars every day of the week. The petite space is as comforting as cashmere, with service that is vigilant, never cloying. Not sure about that Greek xinomavro on the wine menu? You can sample a splash before committing to a half carafe. Pair it with excellent starters or a range of hand-rolled and extruded pastas from chef Brian Rae (who trained under Rialto’s Jody Adams), all of which easily compete with the Ribelles and Giulias of the proverbial block. And about those Benedicts and Belgian waffles: With upgrades like house-made doughnuts, buttery drop biscuits, and a pancetta-and-peperonata breakfast sandwich, there are now even more reasons to join the weekend faithful winding down Centre Street.
Check out all of our Best New Restaurants 2015 coverage.