Mida’s Douglass Williams Opens a French Restaurant in the Fenway
DW French is going to warm up winter with French onion soup, steak frites, and charming hospitality.
Bostonians know chef Douglass Williams for his award-winning take on Italian cuisine: heavenly garlic butter focaccia; gorgeous renditions of pasta dishes like bucatini all’Amatriciana and paccheri Bolognese; crispy thin-crust pizzas with a slight char—a nod to New Haven, Connecticut’s “apizza”—topped with, for instance, marinated clams or spicy pork sausage. But French cuisine has always resonated deeply with him; he spent time in Paris and worked at the Michelin-starred restaurant Akrame before returning to Boston to open his Italian restaurant Mida, which now has three locations. Now, he’s getting back to his love of France with the opening of DW French, a brasserie in the Fenway, on October 19.
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Meant to get at the homey soul of French cooking, DW French aims to present the cuisine as accessible, not intimidating. “French cuisine often stands on a pedestal, wrapped in layers of intricacy and grandeur,” says Williams, chef and owner of the new restaurant, via press release. “With DW French, my vision is to demystify it, to show that at its core, it’s about warmth, love, and the joy of shared meals.”
This means you’ll find plenty of straightforward French classics on the menu, from a French onion soup (featuring port-braised beef) to steak frites to crème brûlée. If DW French follows in Mida’s footsteps, they’ll be served with Williams’ elegant spin and warm hospitality that feels more like you’re dining in someone’s home than in a restaurant.
We’re excited to try some twists on the traditional, too: Beef bourguignon, for example, is served here in sandwich form—on a baguette, naturally—with London broil, caramelized onions, aioli, and whole grain mustard. Speaking of sandwiches, the opening menu also includes a burger (with “fromage à l’americain,” a.k.a. American cheese, and griddled onions, served on a brioche bun) and a croque madame, that beloved French egg, cheese, and ham sandwich. You’ll also spot that one on the weekend brunch menu when brunch service launches (soon!)
Mida partner and sommelier Seth Gerber is behind the drink list at DW French, focusing on small-production French wines and traditional-with-a-twist cocktails, including an espresso martini (consider us intrigued) enhanced with a banana liqueur and a fruity “French-ish” martini with pineapple, raspberry, pomegranate, and grapefruit. The opening menu highlights a few mocktails, too—and we’ve got to give a shout-out to the inclusion of the classic Shirley Temple.
DW French takes over a street-level space at the Pierce building that previously housed Tiffani Faison’s glamorous Italian restaurant Orfano. The elegance continues with the new restaurant, boasting red leather banquettes and white subway tile. The 100-seat space (plus 30 on a seasonal patio) was designed by Sousa Architects, who also worked on Mida.
It’s a busy time for brasseries in the Fenway neighborhood: The iconic Eastern Standard has just been reborn in a new space on Beacon Street, while New York’s Blue Ribbon Brasserie is slated to open soon in the original Eastern Standard space in the heart of Kenmore Square. While those two offer American spins on a brasserie, though, DW French is, well, quite French. Room for everyone, as far as we’re concerned.