Bon Appetit and the New York Times Really Love Dear Annie
The quirky, cool wine bar—a collaboration between the Rebel Rebel and Field & Vine teams—has landed on two national top 50 lists in recent days, deservedly so.
Thanks to a couple recent mentions in high-profile publications, the rest of the country is getting in on what locals have known for nearly a year: Cambridge wine bar Dear Annie is really, really great.
On September 8, food magazine Bon Appétit dropped its 2022 list of the 50 best new restaurants nationwide, with Dear Annie as the sole Massachusetts entry. The magazine praises the bar’s “fresh, interesting [wine] list,” noting that “the food is just as fun, bright and elegantly unfussy as the wine you’ll drink.” The menu frequently changes, but Bon Appétit rightly recommends trying anything from the house-preserved fish section (“served with bread, pickles, and lots of herbs,” per the Dear Annie website). Currently on offer: pickled Maine mussels with sesame, ginger, and fermented chili, among other options. A seafood hot dog is also a must-try, per the magazine; it’s currently topped with preserved lemon aioli and pickled celery, served on a house-made bun. “You can’t go wrong with any of these dishes, especially when they come with a caviar topper,” writes Bon Appétit. Finish with a slice of whatever pie is available.
Next up, the New York Times published its own top 50 list yesterday—succinctly dubbed “The Restaurant List”—showcasing “the 50 restaurants we love most in 2022.” (This one is a mix of old and new.) Dear Annie is one of two Massachusetts picks, with the NYT very into the space itself: “There is an effervescence to the room,” the publication writes. “Playful neon signage, come-hither shelves of natural wines, brightly hued tableware.” The food? “Equally charming.” The house-preserved fish dishes get another shout-out here, and then there’s the “compulsively dippable seafood fumet [which] may be the best thing to happen to the bread course since butter.”
Dear Annie opened near Porter Square in late 2021, a melding of talents from the people behind two Somerville hot spots: Lauren Friel, wine expert and cool-vibe creator of Rebel Rebel, the intimate Bow Market wine bar, and Andrew Brady and Sara Markey of Field & Vine, the Union Square restaurant that looks like a magical forest and serves all things seasonal and local. Put those talents together, and you get Dear Annie, a no-reservations natural wine bar with a light food menu—all pescatarian—and casual service. Order at the counter and grab a seat, most likely at the big communal table in the center, shoulder to shoulder with wine-enthusiast strangers.
One Boston old-timer also gets named on the NYT list: the North End’s famously busy seafood spot Neptune Oyster, home of one of the city’s best lobster rolls. “Neptune is among the highest versions of the oyster bar form—pressed-tin ceilings, a marble bar, iced beds of oysters, clams and crab claws—but it is also more,” writes the publication, recommending dishes such as a Nantucket Bay scallop crudo with Persian cucumbers and cuttle-ink risotto with lobster. “There’s also a lobster roll, of course, but you didn’t wait all that time for a lobster roll. Or maybe you did.”
Like Dear Annie, Neptune Oyster does not take reservations. Your best bet for each? Try to sneak in at an off-peak time, like right at opening in the middle of the week. You might still have to wait, but it’ll be worth it.