Sign of the Times

From the gentle kitsch to the north-of-the-border nods that are clever—never fromage-y—Café du Pays nails the 2017 zeitgeist with pitch-perfect aplomb. Ahead, we break down the restaurant’s of-the-moment details.

Photograph by Toan Trinh

1. A sustainable ethos. The layered Acadian Frappe is served up with a spring of mint—and an American-made Aardvark compostable paper straw.

2. Obsessively curated background music. Co-owner Evan Harrison created five super-specific playlists, including one with French-Caribbean tunes and another heavy on Québec-connected folk rock (think Neil Young).

3. Seamlessly integrated vegan and plant-based options. A meat-free spin on the deep-fried pork-jowl snack oreilles de crises, for example, is made with mixed cultivated and wild mushrooms, maple sugar, and nutritional yeast.

4. A menu that comfortably straddles the high- and low-brow. Why, of course we’ll take a side of chicken-skin gravy poutine with our coq au vin–style rabbit. And will you be sipping Molson or Châteauneuf-du-Pape tonight?

5. Unexpected glassware. To us, these look more like bistro-style water glasses than the long-stemmed vin vessels we’re used to. Hey, all the more room for a generous pour.

6. DIY décor. The seven-person ownership team did all of the interior-design work themselves, transforming the old Hungry Mother space into a moody, boutique-y bistro with a thoughtful assemblage of found artifacts, including some 20 antique lamps restored by local legend Jerry Gordon, of Cambridge’s Fun Antiques.

See more from our 2017 Top New Restaurants feature.