Bostonia Public House officially opened Thursday afternoon at the corner of State and Broad Streets after a few nights of friends and family service. It appears at least immediately to have the hallmarks of winner in the heart of Downtown Boston.
The concept “pays homage to all things Boston including the historical architecture that defines and beautifies our city,” says the Bostonia website. It’s in a perfect spot to celebrate the city: just a stone’s throw from Faneuil Hall, the Old State House and site of the Boston Massacre. State Street is also one of Boston’s original thoroughfares. It was called King Street in colonial times. The new bar/restaurant replaces the former Kitty O’Sheas.
We popped in last night to check out the scene and found it warm and inviting, with a sort of upscale old saloon vibe. Loved the huge mural maps of colonial Boston on the walls. There seems to be a lot of interest from folks in the neighborhood, largely comprised of the after-work crowd: we arrived at Bostonia about 5 p.m., an hour after it opened for business, and the expansive bar area was already packed.
There wasn’t a free seat anywhere in the house by the time we left about an hour later.
The menu from executive chef Kyle Ketchum is largely in line with the current trend dominating the local dining scene: contemporary twists on retro Americana.
We sampled six apps and entrees and here are some first reactions: The spicy, full-flavored tuna crudo with wasabi oil was as good as any in town. The crab-crusted cod with asparagus, leek and potato succotash was a creative, tasty take on a classic Boston dish. We also liked the light and tasty housemade French onion dip.
It’s not fair to judge a restaurant’s menu and service within hours after opening. But a couple suggestions: the heavy breading on the wings, like you’d find on beer-battered fish & chips, needs to be taken off the menu yesterday. They were far from the “sesame glazed” wings promised on the menu. The sauce was superb. But the breading takes away from that flavor, not to mention from the chicken itself. Everyone loves chicken wings. Let the chicken shine.
Also, we ordered the Bostonia baked beans with bacon breadcrumbs. We anticipated a beanpot of steaming hot classically prepared navy beans rich wth molasses and pork fat. A perfect comfort dish on a cold, windy night in Boston. We got instead big, undercooked beans with almost no flavor, served in a white bowl. No bacon or breadcrumbs anywhere. They were beans. They were not Boston baked beans. A restaurant that wraps itself in Boston lore must do baked beans properly.
Just some small opening-day critiques. I’m sure those little issues will work themselves out. The first reaction we had was overwhelmingly positive. We’ll be back soon. Judging by the animated first-night crowd, it seems a lot of other people like what they see, too.
Bostonia Public House, 131 State St., Boston, 617-948-9800, bostoniapublichouse.com