First Look at the Westland Restaurant near Symphony Hall
A classic American brasserie from the owner of several Boston bars is on track to open before 2018 is over.
UPDATE, Wednesday, January 2, 2019: The Westland officially opens tonight at 4 p.m. It serves dinner nightly beginning at 5 p.m., with the kitchen open until 10 p.m. (11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) and the bar going later. Stay tuned for lunch, weekend brunch, and late-night dining to start later this year.
A long-awaited Symphony Hall-area restaurant and bar is finally inching toward an opening date. The Westland, the seventh concept from the Red Paint Hospitality Group owner Douglas Bacon, hopes to open by the end of the year.
“A lot of people have been anxious for me to open,” Bacon concedes. He secured a liquor license for the former Symphony 8 restaurant space back in 2012, and has had to answer to the City of Boston licensing board annually about the lack of business to show for it, Universal Hub has reported.
The restaurateur also owns the Last Drop and Harry’s Bar and Grill in Brighton, the White Horse Tavern, the Avenue, and Hopewell Kitchen in Allston, and the Corner Tavern on Massachusetts Ave. at Marlborough Street. He took over the Symphony-area space while simultaneously working to open Shanghai Social Club in Allston. That spot quickly failed, so Bacon focused his energy on transforming that space into the Hopewell instead of moving forward with the Westland project. He also revamped the Avenue in the last few years.
“I don’t really have a good explanation; I’ve had a lot of things going on in the meantime,” Bacon says. “I’m just happy we’re almost at the finish line. I’m very happy with the people I’ve hired, the way the place looks, and I’m very excited to get it open.”
The new restaurant is the type of place Bacon would have frequented when he lived in the neighborhood with his wife, he says. Their spot then was Brasserie Jo, which shuttered earlier this year. The 124-seat Westland has its own brasserie vibes, thanks to a marble bar, red vinyl booths and chairs, and gold fixtures in the main dining room. But “we’re not trying to be a French restaurant,” Bacon says. The front bar, where diners will enter into the Westland, has black-studded barstools and black bar, recalls more of an English pub.
But Bacon happens to have hired two Brasserie Jo alums: Matt Drummond, most recently executive chef at South Boston’s Loco Taqueria and Fat Baby sushi bar, is Red Paint Hospitality’s new executive chef; and chef Danielle Dorcil, who also worked with Drummond at Fat Baby, is at the helm of the Westland.
“I know we’re going to get a lot of business from Symphony Hall, the Huntington Theatre, New England Conservatory, Berklee College, Northeastern—you could just go on. But my foremost goal is to serve the people who live in this neighborhood,” Bacon says. “Our goal is to make it affordable so that we can get repeat business from the people who live in close proximity.”
That means nothing more than $30 on the food menu, which offers everything from fresh East and West Coast oysters on the half-shell, to porchetta with mustard velouté, to grilled pizzas.
“We’re taking classic comfort food and having fun with it, like taking tomato soup and adding a twist by smoking the tomatoes,” Dorcil says. She’s particularly excited about offering a rotating crudo with the day’s catch, and for a sausage pizza with Provolone, confit onions and peppers, inspired by Fenway street food.
Julia Buccieri, formerly beverage manager at the Hopewell, joins Bacon at his newest venture. Like the Allston bar, the Westland has a focus on American whiskeys and local beer, but there are also four wines on tap, and 11 craft cocktails that are “mostly takes on classics, but a little weird,” Buccieri says. For example, she’s using house-made ingredients like prickly pear cordial, chocolate-coconut milk, and olive brine to play up sweet and savory flavors.
Eventually, the Westland will be open every day for lunch, dinner, and late-night dining, and for weekend brunch. But to start, it will be open every night for dinner and bar service. The team is awaiting a final inspection from the City of Boston, which is a bit complicated by the upcoming holidays; Bacon anticipates quietly opening just before the New Year.
10 Westland Ave., Back Bay, Boston, westlandboston.com.