What to Eat (and Drink) This Weekend
So-long specials from the chef at Coppa, "the best margarita on its first try," tailgating specials for the Pats game, and more.
Chef Trevor Smith’s Food at Coppa, for the Last Time
After cooking at Michelin-starred spots in California, New York, and Europe, and a decade in Boston under such top chefs as Tony Maws, Ken Oringer, and Jamie Bissonnette, Trevor Smith will leave his post as chef de cuisine at Coppa to take on a totally new challenge: Raising a baby girl with his wife and fellow chef, Toro’s Kate Smith. Trevor’s final shift is Monday, Jan. 15, before he seeks a new job with family-friendlier hours, he says. “I’ve been aggressively playing with the menu this week to go out with a bang,” Smith says. This weekend’s goodbye specials include Island Creek Oyster escabeche, topped with with Thai basil oil, preserved lime, and a mignonette made from last summer’s cherries pickled in Cabernet vinegar ($6 for two); pappardelle con cingahiale, a cocoa-and-whole-wheat pasta with red wine-braised boar and parsnip ($17 small / $26 large); and, during brunch on Saturday and Sunday, Hawaiian pizza with pineapple, prosciutto, and sweet chili sauce ($16). So long, chef Smith, and best wishes on your new role as dad!
Coppa, 253 Shawmut Ave., South End, Boston, 617-391-0902, coppaboston.com.
Whatever You’re Willing to Pay For
While chef Steve “Nookie” Postal has two cafes and a beer hall in the works elsewhere in Cambridge, his Kendall Square original is mixing things up with a special name-your-price offering. The idea came about during the latest snow storm, when restaurants around the region were putting up discounted menus to try and entice diners in from the cold, Postal says. “Is it $39? $45? Everyone’s trying to guess what that perfect price is. Why not just name your price?” For the second weekend in a row, he’s letting guests do just that at Commonwealth. Chef de cuisine Nicco Murature asks the whole table to participate in the family-style feast, but they can name any price they’re willing to pay per guest. The kitchen will look at the total budget, then break it down with items from the regular menu, as well as off-the-cuff specials. That may look like a platter of fried chicken and a handful of veggie-forward side dishes, or perhaps a fresh-grilled coppa steak from the whole Tamworth / Berkshire-cross hog they got in last night from Western Massachusetts. “If you want to spend $40, we’ll create a menu that’s $40. If you want to spend $3, here’s a fresh-baked cookie for you,” Postal says.
Friday and Saturday nights, 5-10 p.m., Commonwealth, 11 Broad Canal Way, Cambridge, 617-945-7030, commonwealthcambridge.com.
The Very Stable Genius
This cocktail special at Prairie Fire “was the best margarita on its first try,” the Brookline restaurant asserts with audacious authority. Made with tequila, the fennel-forward aromatic liqueur finocchietto from D.C.-based artisan spirit-makers Don Ciccio & Figli, charred pineapple, and lime, certainly sounds more appealing than anything the sitting president said this week. The $11 drink is on the specials board all weekend long.
Prairie Fire, 242 Harvard St., Brookline, 61-7396-8199, prairiefirebrookline.com.
If you are, by any chance, already regretting your decision to try a diet this month, we have some good news for you: It is possible to dine out in Boston without depriving yourself. The Hourly Oyster House has a new roasted cauliflower steak with vadouvan, shallots, almonds, and golden raisins on the menu; Dig Inn boasts 858 possibilities for vegan dishes among its new winter lineup; and even Flour Bakery + Cafe is making healthy items more prominent in its pastry cases. “We can easily modify most of our menu items to fill the needs and dietary restrictions of our guests,” says the Butcher Shop’s chef de cuisine and general manager Ben Weisberger. Omitting the dollop of ricotta, or the final shave or Parmesan on his dishes like the tomato soup, and the vitello tonnato (thinly shaved veal loin with tuna aioli and arugula salad) make them Whole 30 permissible. Roast chicken can go without rice and get bulked up on vegetables; a duck entree, pork chops, rack of lamb, and more is all good to go—not to mention any of the salumi and charcuterie boards. If you’d prefer a seafood spread, any tinned fish at Haley.Henry Wine Bar are trendy-diet-friendly (maybe skip the potato chips, though)—and so is that tiny spot’s creamy cauliflower soup (surprisingly dairy-free!); smoked trout with winter greens, citrus and fennel; and more. “Just because you’re doing the Whole 30 it doesn’t mean you have to end your social life,” owner Haley Fortier says. “And for those that are cutting back on additives, we serve mainly natural wines that don’t have additives in them… so drinking at haley.henry is healthy, too,” she says, adding 🙂 in an email.
Beef-Bacon Mac and Cheese, Valentina Wings with Cilantro-Smoked Blue Cheese, or $1 Shrimp Tacos
Are you ready for some football? We’re guessing yes. Boston-area restaurants certainly are, sharing tempting glimpses at their Saturday night specials. Find rich, cheesy past with Wagyu beef belly; smoked ham and pimento cheese biscuits with pepper jelly; and more upgraded tailgate favorites at Moody’s Backroom. Valentina hot sauce-doused wings are tempered with cilantro smoked bleu cheese and a fried corn crackle at Lower Mills Tavern, which is also serving pancetta and burrata pizza, and more during the game. On a budget? Finger foods like crispy shrimp tacos with spicy aioli and pickles onions; grilled Italian sausage with caramelized onions and peppers; and more are just $1 from 4-11 p.m. at the North End’s Il Molo. Watching the Pats-Titans matchup in front of your own big-screen? Sweet Cheeks Q has takeout options like a bucket of fried chicken drumsticks, biscuits, and barbecue platters—or you can try your hand at these crowd-pleasing recipes that Moody’s Josh Smith, Sweet Cheeks’ Tiffani Faison, and more local chefs shared with us the last time the Patriots were Super Bowl-bound. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday.
The Fish of the Future
Chef Jeremy Sewall and his teams at Row 34 and Island Creek Oyster Bar teamed up with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and Sea Grant this winter to bring environmentally sound steelhead trout to his Boston-area restaurants. The latest batch of these N.H.-raised fish was harvested just Thursday, and they’ll be on menus this weekend. Find roasted trout with crispy potatoes, spigarello kale and gribiche at Row 34; and whole-roasted steelhead trout with romanesco, green apple, and braised fennel at Island Creek’s Kenmore location. If you find yourself in Burlington, the suburban ICOB is serving up pan-roasted steelhead trout with brown butter cauliflower, capers, and lemon.
Row 34, 383 Congress St., Boston, 617-553-5900, row34.com.
Island Creek Oyster Bar, 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-532-5300, 300 District Ave., Burlington, 781-761-6500, islandcreekoysterbar.com.