Behold, the New Wood-Fired Journeyman
The first thing you’ll notice when you step into the updated Journeyman will be the warm musk of the apple and peach wood burning in the kitchen. And then you’ll see the flames.
The five-year-old restaurant, the first from Tse Wei Lim and Diana Kudayarova (backbar, Ames Street Deli, Study), reopens with a new tasting menu tonight after a quick renovation that opened up the rustic kitchen, traded gas-powered appliances for embers and flames, and added more casual seating options to take it all in. On Monday, April 25, a brand new, a la carte concept, Heat, will debut.
“Going out for a tasting menu is a bit of a special occasion,” Kudayarova says. “We want to have more of a neighborhood component, so people who live around us can stop in, have some dinner, and look at the fire.”
The Heat menu is comprised of small plates, appetizers, entrees, large format dishes, and desserts, available Monday-Wednesday. Journeyman’s nine- and 11-course carte du jour ($90-$115) will continue Thursday-Sunday, albeit with 100 percent more fire. The team replaced a flat-top grill, six-burner stove, and a convection oven with a NorCal Ovenworks grill, a fire box flat-top, and a mechanized string that will allow for hearthside roasting of whole birds, vegetables, and other ingredients.
“Our approach to the tasting menu has always been about presenting the bounty of the season as it is, in unique and different ways, and that won’t change,” chef Tru Lang says. “We only have, officially, three new pieces of equipment, but all the ways we can cook with these new pieces of equipment are much more varied than you would assume at first glance. Nothing is closed off. Everything is being exposed to smoke and embers, and that introduces a lot more dimension to the flavors.”
That means sweet potatoes roasted by literally burying them in embers, ash vinegar broth around a dish of grilled rutabaga with torched milk skin, foie gras, and green garbanzo beans, and even sautéed pollock with smoked mackerel whipped cream. On the Heat menu, guests will see items like a crispy-skinned whole roasted chicken, a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato jam, and grilled oysters with house buttermilk.
The restaurant now offers a drink rail, as well as a six-seat dining bar that extends counter seating halfway around the kitchen. Both pieces were constructed from 400-year-old hardwood, reclaimed from a Cambridge renovation, Kudayarova says. Other new design elements include a cleaned up, well-used French top range, now a service station in the dining room, and rows of firewood stacked beneath the vertical garden growing in Journeyman’s front window.
Ticketed reservations are available at Journeyman Thursday-Sunday from 5:30-10:30 p.m. The Heat is on Monday-Wednesday from 6-10 p.m. for walk-in guests and limited reservations.
9 Sanborn Court, Union Square, Somerville, 617-718-2333, journeymanrestaurant.com.