Island Creek Oyster Bar
This new upscale raw bar/seafood restaurant in the 175-seat former Great Bay in the Hotel Commonwealth has been completely redone in a very relaxed ,comfy style i The nautical setting is done up with oyster shells behind gabion cages and a large photo of Duxbury Bay. Owner Skip Bennet founded and operates Duxbury-based Island Creek Oysters ,whose beds provide many area restaurants with plump, briny bivalves. Now they have their personal showpoace. Aside from a range of Island Creek's finest, the changing daily menu includes other fruits de mer like a Tarragon butter'd baked stuffed lobster w/ brussels sprouts, carrot, & parsnips; brioche crusted haddock in mustard oil w/ slow roasted cauliflower; and a schnitzel of monk fish with brown butter and capers. There're also heartier farm faves like braised Berkshire pork shanks w/ a parsnip puree and root veggie hash, and a thick bacon & cheddar-smothered burger made from Vermont beef. A full bar with specialty cocktails.Island Creek Oyster Bar
500 Commonwalth Ave, Kenmore Square, Boston
Barbara Lynch's newest entry is now a reality. Consider this 60-seat Frenchie your new go-to when you're looking to celebrate a big night, like when a huge deal goes through, or you're entertaining your boss's boss. The vibe is upscale-meets-more-upscale, with a living-room-y lounge that feels like you're hanging out in someone's penthouse. Plates include Whole Roasted Squab and Terrene de Foie Gras, and the format is strictly four courses and seven courses. So if you're a three-course person, you might want to pair up!
354 Congress St., Boston
Now you can enjoy art and fine food in the newly re-furbished Museum of Fine Arts restaurant on the second floor of the West Wing. Run by Restaurant Associates, the space has been completely re-done under the direction of Peter Niemitz. With bright, bold colors and newly-installed banquettes, Bravo is an elegant addition to Boston's reputation as a gourmet haven. Chef Benjamin Cevelo offers a limited menu featuring some tempting artistic creations. The lobster and sweet corn chowder soup with applewood bacon was smooth and tasty. If you're a sushi fan, the tuna maki or the tempura salmon roll is well worth a try. The four cheese mezzalun, with roasted eggplant, tomato sauce and arugula, as well as the free-range chicken breast with prosciutto, watermelon and feta cheese, are very satisfying. For desserts, check out the creme brulee (excellent) or the pistachio and bittersweet chocolate profiteroles. Cocktails also take on an arty flavor with the classic martini featuring "Vincent Vodka or Van Gogh Gin." Some large bold Claudio Bravo (now you know where they got the name) pieces adorn the walls and the view of the courtyard is enticing. After 5:30, the restaurant will take care of your parking.
465 Huntington Ave., Boston
What sets La Voile, a charming brasserie in the tony Back Bay, apart from the others around town is its genuine connection to France, from its owners operating an eatery with the same name in Cannes and the wait staff (most of them) of French nationality. Its imported decor (1920s zinc bar, red velvet banquettes, nautical lighting) is quite attractive and with a focus on Mediterranean cuisine, its moderately priced menu offers all the classics. Vive la France.
La Voile, 261 Newbury St., Boston
Owner/chef Ken Oringer's take on a traditional steakhouse in the former Spire's space in the Nine Zero Hotel on Tremont St. is becoming one of Beacon Hill's hot spots. Like all of his restaurants, The 72-seat dining room shows off his personal flair not only with food, but with decor. And along with the steaks, he'll also offer several seafood dishes as alternatives to the many beef options available.
KO Prime, Nine Zero Hotel
90 Tremont St, Boston
Smack dab in the heart of the Theatre District on Tremont Street is one of the city's newest eateries.The name comes from the restaurant's proximity to the Hub's legit theatres and the massive Loews Cinema next door. Chef/owner Jaime Mammano has come up with a winner, taking over the former Galleria Italiano space and before that a synagogue, transforming it by exposing the vaulted ceilings and matching the original gold leaf. The inviting arched window in the front glows with the hustle and bustle that you sense as soon as you enter. The bar is hopping and the open kitchen turns out traditional Italian dishes with a gourmet flair. On busy nights, the noise level can make conversation a bit difficult, but there's an exciting feel to being there. It's become one of the Hub's "in" spots, especially when the theatres are all going full blast. I found the food exceptional and the prices average, and the bar seems to be a happening place.
177 Tremont st., Boston
This is a landmark Boston eating place (since 1868) and is a nostalgia heaven for Bostonians. Visitors to our city will enjoy the lively beer-garden atmosphere and traditional European food in this sprawling old World restaurant close to Boston's theatre district. With wooden floors, chairs and tables, this sprawling space is definitely unpretentious. It was taken over about two years ago by the local Fitz-Inn Parking conglomerate who promptly hired an excellent chef (Phyllis Kaplowitz) but were smart enough to keep the traditional ambience that made this so popular with natives. There's still a vast selection of German goodies (knockwurst, bratwurst, sauerbraten, warm potato salad, etc.)but now one can try such gourmet delicacies as duck confit with wild cherries served on cheddar polenta. The German-style shredded pancakes, topped with chestnut puree and candied chestnuts was outstanding. The desserts were traditional but with an updated presentation.
I hadn't been back before the staff changes, and plan to return often. With the plethora of new restaurants in Boston, one forgets the little jewels that are still around and oh, so good. It's casual and not too expensive. A couple of perks: one of the best selections of imported beers (many on tap) and free parking for diners for the first hour is right next door.
31 Stuart St., Boston
Beacon Hill Bistro
Open for a few months, this charming bistro, part of the small Beacon Hill boutique hotel has in a short time built up quite a following. Formerly the site of the popular Rebecca's on Charles Street, this charming French style bistro has transformed the long narrow space into a comfortable dining spot for lunch or dinner. It features a varied menu to satisfy the most hearty appetite. Sample fare: rabbit with bacon, lentils and wild mushrooms, herb-crusted halibut, gray sole stuffed with Maine crab, swordfish with golden raisins, brouffade-braised beef, the classic steak frites, roast crisp duckling, and roasted beet salad. Nightly specials are listed on a chalk board on the wall. Don't pass up the wonderful crème brulee or the elegant fruit tarts as the dessert cart passes by your table. The simple but elegant dishes are created with a French flair. The Beacon Hill folks should be delighted with the newest entry in the neighborhood.
Beacon Hill Bistro
25 Charles St., Boston
Abe and Louie's
The former J.C.Hillary's across from the Prudential Center on Newbury Street has received a welcome facelift and a new name. With its mahogany paneling and warm wood finishes, its club-like atmosphere should be a popular meeting place right in the heart of the Back Bay. You can choose from a wide variety of steak, seafood and chicken with a fairly extensive wine list. Abe and Louie's, according to Boston's Man on the Town restaurant maven, Bud Napier, is a hit! There's a full bar and lounge as well as dining room (seating 130), and Bud reports that the Margaritas are terrific. Open seven days, serving lunch and dinner as well as Sunday brunch. Congrats to Charlie Sarkis and his Back Bay Restaurant group. Abe and Louie (kinfolk) would both be proud of what should become the jewel in their Boston area dining establishments.
Abe & Louie's
763 Boylston Street, Boston
Top of the Hub
This 50th floor restaurant has been around for a long time, but has recently gone through major changes -- all to the better. The view still remains one of the most spectacular and romantic in the city, but thanks to chef Dean Moore and his culinary staff, he's matched the breathtaking view with his new American-style menu. It's sky-high dining with service and gourmet delicacies to make it a gourmet adventure. It's not just for special occasions (although the ambience is especially suited for anniversaries, birthdays, etc.) and where else can you dine and see such sights. Jazz is featured nightly as well as a late-night menu until 2 a.m. Take the speedy elevator to the top of the Pru and discover an exhilarating dining experience. The name hasn't changed, but everything else has! Vive le difference!
Top of the Hub
Prudential Tower, Boston
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
The newest addition to what is fast transforming the once sleepy Park Square area into Boston's "restaurant row" is a top-drawer, first class steak house that give the nearby Capitol Grille, Grille 23, Morton's and Abe and Louis a run for the money. The newly-renovated Park Square Garage now houses 3 different eating places. Legal Seafoods moved across the street to swanky new digs facing the Theatre District and Maggiano's took over the opposite end of the garage to fill the first floor space offering Italian style dishes for hearty appetites. Now comes Fleming's, whose club-like wood paneled atmosphere serves as elegant surroundings for steak, chops and fish. Already established on the west coast, the group that brought us the highly successful and popular Chinese emporium, P.F. Chang's (across the street in the Transportation building) is now girding to make its mark on the East Coast with the Hub its first stop. Everything is a la carte, therefore the overall tab can get up there fast. But it's elegant dining and servers are well trained to make the experience pleasurable. Try the sautéed mushrooms with full garlic cloves as a side dish --.exceptional. Steaks are flavored superbly and cooked according to your taste. Fresh swordfish was another worthwhile choice, sweet and tender. The portions are ample, particularly potatoes, prepared seven different ways. There's an extensive wine list --100 offered by the glass. Fleming's is certainly a welcome addition to the Hub's burgeoning dining scene.
217 Stuart St., Boston
Radius: Tucked away on the fringe of the financial district on High Street (formerly Schroeder's) is one of the Hub's newest gourmet eateries. With very subtle signage, it's not too easy to find (look for the bright red panels outside), and parking is practically non-existent. But there is valet service, so don't let that deter you -- you won't be disappointed. The huge space has been completely transformed into New York chic. The crowded bar seems to be the trendy meeting place for the singles crowd, and the spacious dining room is cool, comfortable and inviting. Chef Michael Schlow, after working in the close quarters of Cafe Louis, has been able to really "spread out" to create a menu and extensive wine list to entice the palate. A combination of Continental and American dishes includes Maine crab and cucumber tarts, pepper-crusted sirloin, and roasted black grouper. Portions are not huge and the prices are right up there, but if you're looking for a cosmopolitan setting and inventive dishes, you'll find them here. It's currently "the place to see and be seen," and the ambience and chic clientele combine to make it the closest you'll come to Manhattan without leaving the city.
8 High Street, Boston
No. 9 Park: It's hard to keep up with all the new restaurants in the Boston area; they seem to be opening one a week. We did get a chance to sample 9 Park last week, and it took a while to get things together, but you'll find the wait worthwhile. Open only a month, 9 Park is diagonally opposite the State House and is the creation of Master chef Barbara Lynch, formerly of Galleria Italiano. She has worked hard to create distinctive dishes that display her creative culinary talent. The intimate space offers two distinctly different dining areas, the one overlooking Boston Common is bright and airy, the other in the rear has a New York feel to it, cozy and quiet and rather elegant. Separating the two dining rooms is a well-stocked bar and tables for more relaxing dining. When I first tasted her crisp roasted duck at her former venue, I thought it was the best ever. It still is. We started our feast with seared diver's scallop on a bed of grilled corn, potato cake, and truffle essence. The grilled veal chop with parsnip and potato souffle in red wine sauce was also flavorful and delicious. For dessert, I chose the semi-frozen sorbet, which satisfied me completely. The service and attention to detail is first rate. The menu is limited, and I would venture to say that loving care is extended to all the choices, fish, steak, or chicken. The wine list is extensive (over 100 listed). Certain items seemed a bit pricey, but I guess you get what you pay for, and what you get at 9 Park is exceptional. They are now open for lunch as well as dinner. And thank goodness, they offer valet parking. Otherwise, it would be a disaster. Chalk up another winner in Boston's burgeoning restaurant scene.
No. 9 Park
9 Park St., Boston
This is as close to dining on the left bank as it gets. Now into its fifth year, and practically doubled in size with its recent next door expansion, this French-style bistro is at the right place at the right time. Smack in the middle of the burgeoning leather district on South Street, this one-time desolate area has now become a bustling neighborhood community. It's filled with growing a business and resident population who have one of the city's choice gourmet establishments right in their midst -- and at prices that won't stretch the budget. Zygomates is a sleeper. Just like its title, it'll put a smile on your face. Ian Just, its accomplished chef, is an experienced gustatory artist creating unusual and tasty dishes with a true French panache. On a recent visit we dined on rabbit stuffed with vegetables over couscous and mustard greens, and a perfectly grilled red snapper with an unusual taro rootmash and ginger sauce was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. For dessert, we savored a crème brûlée that was "magnifique." Their wine list is extensive. (Where in the city can your order over 30 wines by the glass from a choice wine list?) Their Tuesday night wine tastings, with 2 seatings at 6 & 8 p.m., have become a wine lover's paradise. And filling an obvious void in dining experiences, there's music every night . . . jazz, Latin and blues with no additional cover charge. Put off that trip to Paree. Just head for South Street and you're there!
Open Monday - Saturday until 1 a.m., for lunch, dinner and late-night desserts.
129 South Street, Boston
The Colonnade Hotel is finally back in serious competition again with this welcome addition to authentic French cuisine in Boston. Internationally-renowned chef Jen Joho, who runs the five-star "Everest" in Chicago as well as the first Brasserie Jo, has not missed a beat in offering authentic French dishes coupled with a decor that evokes the Paris of the 40's. The room (formerly the Promenade) is on the first floor of the hotel with its own entrance and separate valet parking. They've spared no expense in redesigning the room and the food, and the prices are reasonable -- you won't have to take out a second mortgage to savor authentic French food. You can sample a mega-variety of martinis (the Martini Jo -- Stoli, Lillet rouge and orange zest -- is my favorite). Recommended dishes include: the Plateau de Fruit de Mer (shrimp, stone crabs, three kinds of oysters, clams and escargot - $36 for two), the smoked salmon with creamed horseradish sauce, Duck a L'orange, and two of their specialty dishes, the "shrimp bag" and the hangar steak. The profiteroles, with the warm chocolate sauce poured at the table, is another nice touch. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner until 11 p.m. Late-night revelers can also order from a limited menu at the bar until closing.
120 Huntington Avenue, Boston
The Providence-based restaurant chain has moved its long time Newbury St. location to the Hynes Convention Center ( the popular Towne Stove and Spirits is at the other end of the Hynes on Boylston st) - Now that steakhouses are back in vogue,the new Boston location and the busy Chestnut Hill one are bringing in the crowds. Valet parking is available at both locations.
Capital Grille, Boylston and Dalton St. Boston, 617-262-8900
Capital Grille, 250 Boylston St. Chestnut Hill, 617-928-1400
If you remember hanging out at everyone's favorite "Boston Marathon" hangout for umpteen years, forget it. The former Elliot Lounge at the corner of Mass. and Commonwealth Avenues has had a major transformation. The decor, the ambience, and the food are definitely upscale and it's become one of the many newer " in spots" that seem to be sprouting up all over the city. This one has the feel of a Parisian supper club and thanks to designer Peter Neimitz, the small dining room (seats 48) reeks of European chic. Ken Oringer, the former chef of Tosca on the South Shore, has created a sophisticated menu that fits well into the intimate decor. I'd recommend the tasting menu ($45) which will give you a chance to sample the first courses and entrees. On a recent visit our group had a chance to taste a wide variety of selections, from puree of pea soup and seared dayboat scallops to organic chicken and Maine lobster with gnocchi. Presentation and service are first-rate. If you're a big spender, it's great for a special celebration. It's also fast becoming the place for businessmen to meet for "power breakfasts." Open for breakfast and dinner 7 days a week.
370A Commonwealth Avenue, Boston
Locke-Ober It's still the same old Locke's, with mahogany walls, the silver domes on the bar, and of course the famous picture on the wall. I'm pleased to report that the menu still carries some of the old favorites, including lobster stew, calves liver with bacon -- even baked Alaska for dessert. Even some of the old waiters are back. The "we'll take good care of you" service is the same, with much attention to detail and friendly, but not overly so. The lobster stew (still listed on the menu as JFK's favorite) is rich with chunks of succulent lobster meat. I preferred the much lighter lobster bisque, brimming with flavor. . In keeping with mixing the old with the new, we savored the warm Indian pudding with vanilla ice cream (which we loved from the old days) and got our chocolate fix with the dark bittersweet chocolate tart with sugared orange slices. Locke-Ober's in good hands, folks, and if you've missed the trek down the alley at quaint Winter Place, they're waiting for you to come back home again. Dinner only. (valet parking). Closed Sundays. Closest parking is the Swiss Hotel or the new Ritz garage on Avery St.
Winter Place, Boston
Every city has a dining spot that becomes "the in place." Mistral seems to have captured the golden ring in this regard, and they're reluctant to relinquish the title. There's a style and energy to the place that caters to those who long for more than good-tasting food and a well-prepared and presented menu. Nurtured by Chef Jaime Mammano, it's the place to see and be seen these days. The bar at the front entrance is hopping and the decor in the restaurant is one of the Hub's most elegant. It's a true dining experience. My only caveat - call early for reservations. They fill up fast, especially on weekends.
221 Columbus Ave, Boston
Plaza 111, The Kansas City Steakhouse
Hoping to make its mark on the East Coast, this newest eatery in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace area (formerly Crickets) will offer USDA Prime Grade meats as well as seafood at its only location outside of Kansas City. Dubbed one of the "Top Ten Steakhouses in America" by the famed Zagat Survey, it will be a welcome addition to the restaurants in the popular Faneuil Hall area. Open seven days a week from 11a.m.-2a.m. Food service available until midnight.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston