Located in the historic Board of Trade Building, Bostonia Public House is all about balance –it’s polished yet playful, rustic yet refined; even its location – adjacent to Faneuil Hall and the Rose Kennedy Greenway – bridges the classic and contemporary.
Bostonians on their way home from work in the Financial District or tourists fresh from a visit to the nearby New England Aquarium can get comfortable in the expansive dining room. The venue integrates rustic elements with polished modern accents. Iconic architecture, raw building materials and vintage finishes are juxtaposed and flattered by distinctive lighting, glossy brick treatments and marble flooring. The cognac and coffee tones exude a casual elegance and foster a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The exposed kitchen and long walnut bar deliver an experience that’s both cozy and convivial.
Open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and late night, and for brunch on weekends, Bostonia Public House serves classic New England fare (think: Boston baked beans or lobster rolls) updated with modern twists and sensibilities. A thoughtful selection of wine, beer and cocktails complements the farm-to-table, sustainably-sourced cuisine. With its spacious downstairs bar, intimate upstairs bar, dining room, communal tables, private dining and event spaces, the restaurant strikes just the right balance with a sensible mix of sociability and sophistication
The Financial District has visitors dodging swarms of suited worker bees, but Boston’s business crowd isn’t the only thing buzzing here this summer.
What to Do
Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace is well known and highly trafficked. It’s a shopping mecca featuring both brand-name and local boutiques, and its Quincy Market colonnade features loads of local vendors serving up quick and casual lunch. State Street at Congress Street, 617.523.1300
Located on the second level of Quincy Market building, Gunther von Hagens’ touring exhibition Body Worlds Vital offers an insightful look at health, disease and the inner workings of the human body with its displays of real life people and body parts. Quincy Market, 866.276.9458
Stately landmark Faneuil Hall is headquarters of Boston National Historical Park. It also serves as a departure point for a number of ranger-guided Freedom Trail walking tours. Congress Street, 617.242.5642
When you’re feeling the heat of summer, chill out at Frost Ice Bar. It is, literally, a bar made of ice. 200 State St., 617.307.7331
“The Hockey Players” installation at Body Worlds Vital (Courtesy Body Worlds Vital)
Heading toward the waterfront, the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway weaves through the heart of the Financial District and is a welcome respite shaded by Yoshino cherries, Elizabeth magnolias and native New England flora. Other attractions here include public art, splash fountains, a beautiful carousel and a caravan of food trucks. 617.292.0020
New-ish Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is dedicated to the famed rebellious act of Dec. 16, 1773. Toss tea overboard yourself, if you like. 306 Congress St., 617.338.1773
Buy some crafty souvenirs to bring home at creative collaborative Design Museum Store, newly opened. 70 East India Row
At New England Aquarium, encounter seals, sea lions and stingrays, not to mention the animals living inside the 200,000-gallon Giant Ocean Tank. 1 Central Wharf, 617.973.5200
Later in the day, Boston Harbor Hotel hosts Summer in the City, four evenings of alfresco entertainment—soul music to classic films—overlooking the harbor, June 12-Aug. 29. 70 Rowes Wharf, 617.856.7744
If you’d rather sail into the harbor, visit the Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion where you can buy tickets to this water-locked National Historic Park from this mainland information center. 191 Atlantic Ave., 617.223.8666
In town June 3-5? City Hall Plaza hosts Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl, a sweet annual event where $10 gets you as much ice cream as you can eat. City Hall Plaza, 617.632.3863
Where to Eat
Tater tot poutine, baked beans with bacon crumbs, chilled lobster roll: all sophisticated takes on comfort food cooked by Kyle Ketchum at new place Bostonia Public House, where high-top tables and excellent service are de rigeur. 131 State St., 617.948.9800
Bostonians know Central Wharf Co. as the former Jose McIntyre’s, a bar with an Irish-Mexican theme and floors as sticky as the crowd was college-aged. But Glynn Group’s new vision does justice to its historic building, pairing modern touches with the rusticity of exposed brick walls and framed vintage newsprint. Menu is a mix of tasty bar food like Asian-flaired wonton nachos and hearty sandwiches like buttermilk fried chicken. 160 Milk St., 617.451.9460
Jody Adams’ waterfront rendezvous Trade serves up sharing plates of which ordering many is a must. Fried polenta with Halloumi cheese, anyone? Flatbreads are fab, too, and, at the bar, the tender creates original drinks per customer’s whim. 540 Atlantic Ave., 617.451.1234
Bill Brodsky’s contemporary American eatery City Landing features scenic views of the Greenway and an approachable finer dining menu utilizing sustainable local ingredients. Dining for one: Check out Brodsky’s Bar Crumbs. 255 State St., 617.725.0305
Mobile Eats boasts more than 30 food trucks that hawk fresh cuisine from local vendors at six locations along the Greenway on the daily. Locations along Rose F. Kennedy Greenway
At Wink & Nod, Last Word (left) and Ivana are the drinks accompanying the spiced bar nuts.
Boston’s hottest restaurants, it’s party time circa 1979. Nubs of pork belly and showy charcuterie platters have been supplanted by dinner-party snacks of yesteryear: onion dip, bar nuts, olives, relishes. It won’t be long before someone presents them in Tupperware.
On the menu at Alden & Harlow — Harvard Square’s hangout du jour — chef Michael Scelfo offers onion dip and a humble bowl of smoked cashews. Around the corner at the Sinclair, chef Matt Cunningham concocts a pimento-and-cheese-stuffed-olive that Granny would adore. Kenmore Square barflies can get a simple relish tray at Audubon or onion dip at Eastern Standard. And chefs Samuel Monsour and Mark O’Leary quit work at Downtown Crossing gastropub JM Curley to run the Future of Junk Food, a pop-up series where people clamor for dishes unseen since the Carter administration, including fried-chicken TV dinners.
Many chefs have been accused of valuing gimmicky experimentation over good, old-fashioned hospitality — most recently chronicled by GQ’s Alan Richman in his article “The Rise of Egotarian Cuisine.” But at Boston’s top restaurants, chefs’ culinary egos were developed in childhood, and their food reflects that purity.
State Park chef Barry Maiden has beer nuts (served in an ashtray, no less) on his menu. “I want to make food that I want to eat, that I ate as a kid. If I don’t want to eat it myself, why would I make it? I’m just thinking about what’s going to taste good,” Maiden says.
This isn’t the same faux nostalgia marketing of the early 2000s, when it was impossible to find a menu without mac and cheese fancied up with lobster or tater tots festooned with truffles. Few diners grew up eating such things, after all, and neither did today’s chefs, for whom self-expression is synonymous with hospitality.
JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF
At State Park in Cambridge, chef Barry Maiden serves beer nuts in an ashtray.
“I want my restaurant to feel like home,” says Alden & Harlow’s Scelfo. “As a kid, I had no shame: My favorite snack was onion soup mix, sour cream, and potato chips. That was the epitome of what onion dip was in my mind. I wanted to take that next step.”
Scelfo’s evolved version includes garlic aioli, buttermilk yogurt, grilled onions, scallions, and chives. It’s an elevated recipe, but the effect remains. “Candidly, I know customers want food that chefs personally care about. That’s what people taste — if it has a little bit of heart behind it,” he says.
“Chefs are finally getting to the point where they’re simply cooking stuff they love,” says Audubon’s Suzi Maitland, whose relish dish with kumquat jam, marinated olives, spicy pickled cauliflower, and sweet pickled radishes was inspired by family holidays. “This is stuff we grew up with. We’re from that era: the 1970s and 1980s.”
Back then American food reigned supreme, and a new generation of chef is transforming those childhood memories into forward-thinking and delicious meals — minus the additives and Wonder Bread.
Monsour’s Future of Junk Food pop-up, run in conjunction with culinary marketplace Kitchensurfing, uses quality ingredients to replicate classic snacks. And so “Cheetos” are spicy pig ears seasoned with hot peppers; “uncrustables” peanut butter and jelly sandwiches now have pistachio and rhubarb. Think it’s a vanity project? The events are consistently sold out.
“Chefs are finally doing what we haven’t seen much of lately: cooking American cuisine,” says Monsour. “For the last 10 years, when someone asked me what food I cooked, I’d say American, and it almost seemed boring. But ours is a pretty amazing bounty of food, if done well.”
“People have been trying so hard to cook new things, but a lot of dishes are classics for a reason. Why not revisit them?” asks Sinclair’s Cunningham, whose cheese-stuffed olives sometimes share menu space alongside deviled eggs.
Will Gilson’s Puritan & Company serves a crudite platter that would make a proper hostess proud, with baby radishes, asparagus, sugar snap peas, turnips, and carrots with onion dip, plus a pumpernickel crumble that resembles soil. (Mom might not have had time for that touch.) He wants his restaurant to be “the best cocktail party ever. I want people to feel like they’re at a cool cocktail club from the 1960s. Most of my menu is a throwback,” he says.
JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF
State Park’s grilled bread with creamy cheese and pepper jelly snacks.
At perpetually packed brasserie Eastern Standard, manager Deena Marlette says onion dip is the most popular snack. “Bar programs have become more serious. Guests don’t want to spend time trying to figure out what to pair a cocktail with, when they could have something simple,” she says.
“What could be better than sitting at the bar and eating onion dip and potato chips for $5?” asks John Fitzgerald, co-owner of Bostonia Public House. There, the classic dip, inspired by a beloved family party recipe, is a bestseller. “Everybody knows it. Everybody loves it. People want to know what they’re eating,” he says.
At South End speakeasy Wink & Nod, which sells a $100 gin cocktail, one of the most popular dishes is a $6 bowl of bar nuts — with candied garlic, cilantro, and nuoc cham. “Comfort food originated right here in America. We just bump up the quality,” says co-chef Philip Kruta, whose Whisk culinary team runs the kitchen. “We started the idea with something classic that people recognize. Once you call a dish ‘bar nuts,’ you can be as creative as you want.”
It sounds like a Lifetime movie of the week. “It Happened To Me: Stranded at a Restaurant With a Dead Smartphone.” (Gasp! Sob!)
But seriously: whether you’re trying to coordinate a meet-up with friends, field some important work emails between courses, or just really, really bummed out that you’re unable to Instagram your dinner, a depleted cell phone can be a sore inconvenience when you’re eating out. Luckily, we’ve noticed that a few restaurants have been helping out, installing electric outlets and USB ports in a conscious effort to keep guests charged – and happy. If you need to make sure you stay connected, here are a few spots that are convenient go-to’s.
On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who directs more dinner conversation to Twitter than to your table mate, please stop reading now. You need a nice plate of cold turkey.
Alden & Harlow. The Harvard Square newcomer, which specializes in shareable plates of rustic-meets-modern American cuisine, installed nearly 40 electric outlets at its long, wrap-around bar, so you can filter your dinner (through Sierra, Mayfair or Kelvin – no, never Kelvin) until your heart’s content. While you’re at it, make sure to follow the Instagram account of Alden & Harlow chef-owner Michael Scelfo, one of our 7 Must-Follow Social Media Stars. 40 Brattle St., Cambridge; 617-864-2100
Bostonia Public House. The bar and banquette areas were designed to accommodate a number of electric outlets for charging, but there’s another reason Bostonia is a battery savior: loaned chargers for all smartphones are available by request. That’s a nice off-menu order. Now wondering what to eat? Check out our Cheat Sheet. 131 State St.; 617-948-9800
Brasserie Jo. The good news: You remembered to grab your iPhone’s USB cord on your way out the door. The bad news: You forgot that little square doo-dad that connects it an electric outlet. The solution: Back Bay French spot Brasserie Joe, which has installed 8 USB ports at its cocktail tables for just such an emergency. Cheers. 120 Huntington Ave.; 617-425-3240
Fairsted Kitchen. We get a charge out of the rotating draft cocktails at this Brookline hot spot. Also giving us a charge: the 8 USB ports in charging stations on the underside of the bar. #BUZZED. 1704 Beacon St., Brookline; 617-396-8752
Gather. The restaurant teems with tech wizards and start-up ingenues who would rather lose a limb than their smartphone. (After all, it’s housed in District Hall, a public innovation center for flexible work, meeting and hackathon space.) Naturally, they’ve installed 10 or so electric outlets along the bar, lest anyone miss that long-awaited email from an angel investor. 75 Northern Ave.; 617-982-7220
Pastoral. First: read our Cheat Sheet on the Fort Point haven for pizzas, pastas and beer cocktails. Then: Saddle up to the bar, plug your iPhone into one of the many USB ports scattered throughout, and dig in. 345 Congress St.; 617-345-0005
West Bridge. Given its setting in the middle of the Kendall Square start-up world, it’s no surprise that West Bridge keeps its clientele well-charged. The bar area boasts 10 electric outlets for keeping yourself fully online. 1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge; 617-945-0221
They have doughnuts… and vino on TAP… But I will say more
I walked into the new trendy spot on State Street (where the old Kitty O’Sheas used to cause a ruckus) and was completely taken aback. In a good way. The ambiance and décor were open, warm, and welcoming. The staff greeted me with big smiles as soon as I entered the door. I opted to sit at the two-seater offered at the bar and was joined by one of my besties. It was just then, that the experience at BostoniaPublic House reallybegan.
Offering 48 premium wines by the glass (served on tap, I might add), a diverse selection of micro-brews, and list of classic cocktails with a unique twist will surely leave one with plenty of options. My only issue was deciding on where to start! After a nice conversation with my bartender, Billy Cox, I explained to him that I was in the mood for a Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, yet tired of the same old options. He then asked me to give the Russian River Valley Sauv B they had to offer a whirl to try to expand my more-than-bored palette. I agreed, and was not at all disappointed. I don’t know about you, but I love taking recommendations from a bartender whoactually knows what he/she is talking about. Anywho, let’s move on to the next course, the food.
The menu was put together well to cater to someone in the mood for snacks, apps, soups, salads, or a full-out entrée in a rustic sort-of-manner. I liked it, and the way they mixed their spread reminded me of one of my favorite restaurants on the South Shore. There is a wide variety of food to choose from here, so I sampled my way around. My friend had started with the Braised brisket caramelized onion soup, and I started with the Tater Top Poutine. I had never heard of it before, and well, if you don’t love tater tots, then we simply cannot be friends. This is a must-try. I will not give away all of the delicious details, but I will digress and fill you in on a few other must-have items when visiting Boston Public House.
Because it was mid-afternoon, we had to do the old change-over with our Bartender, so we bid adieu to David, and said hello to Chris. This kid had me in stitches from the time he got back there so we kept the tasting going. In my opinion, the bartender can either make or break your experience in a restaurant; Two-Thumbs-up for Chris.
Working my way down the menu, I next sampled the Tuna Crudo. I am a huge fan of tuna, and this item did not disappoint, either. The proportions of tuna-to-avocado-to-cucumber, cilantro, and well, you get the idea, was just insatiable. I would get that time and time again. No lie.
Shame on me, I skipped the salad and entrée portion, but that means two things: I have to go back (shucks) and I only skipped over them to try the Steamed Local Mussels because they caught my eye. Growing up on the South Shore, I am the one to shuck the mussels, let them marinate in the broth, and then attack the bowl; and that’s exactly what I did. The ingredients complimented each other so nicely, that I ate the whole portion myself. Okay, maybe I shared one.
So completely beyond full at this point, but Chris lies out the dessert menu and tells us how delicious their Espresso Martinis and the DOUGHNUTS are, we had to try the doughnuts! SERIOUSLY? FINE. So, we ordered two espresso martinis that were, by far, the best espresso martinis I have had to-date. Yes of course, we ordered the doughnuts; but in case Chris was crazy, we also ordered the “Bostonia” cream pie, and the Maple & brown sugar apple crisp. Turns out, Chris isn’t so crazy after all. He is genius. So genius that he and his co-worker were more than deserving of one of our doughnuts, so we cheered them on as they took them back during an insane rush-hour on a random Tuesday night. The doughnuts were off the charts! Not to knock the other to equally delicious desserts, but I would have never thought to order those. Well done all around.
To sum it up, Bostonia Public House is perfect for date night, game night, or an after-work drink: Trendy, chic, friendly, and fun. Not to mention, the restaurant includes bars on two floors, event spaces, and private rooms with soft seating, perfect for all occasions!
In Cambridge’s Kendall Square, a restaurant/market hybrid lets you eat in there or take home what you need to cook yourself. In Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood, communal dining is encouraged for an interactive experience. And a new pub in the financial district opts for two floors, two bars. We check them all out, plus take a trip to the suburbs to sample the fare at an old fashioned, newly envisioned deli.
Chewy, crusty, real Neopolitan pizza cooked in 90 seconds at 900 degrees is the centerpiece of this new Fort Point Channel eatery. But there’s a whole lot more on the menu at this new restaurant across the block from the Children’s Museum.
In the hallowed space once occupied by Casablanca, Micheal Scelfo’s Harvard Square farm to table restaurant Alden & Harlow is making new memories. The focus here is tapas-style small plates with lots of choices for veggie lovers
A block from the greenway, the brand new Bostonia Public House is a shout-out to the historic charm of our city. Old maps on the walls and a nightly piano player help to create a relaxed ambiance, while the contemporary food of chef Kyle Ketchum provides good eating at this lively after work hangout.
For three and a half years, South Shore meat lovers have been singing the praises of KKaties Burger Bar in Plymouth. Now there’s a second popular KKaties, this one in Marshfield. Here you’ll find eighteen ways to order a half pound mound of all American burger heaven.
Lovers of the Braintree restaurant Sintra know what a talented chef Brian Jenkins is. Now he’s opened a second eatery, this one in Kingston. Port Bistro may be slightly more casual, but the inventive food whipped up by this Culinary Institute of America chef is non-the-less top notch.
Fenway Park’s former chef is hoping to hit the ball out of the park at his new Kendall Square restaurant Commonwealth. It looks casual, but whether for lunch or dinner, the food is seriously tasty. From beet salads by day to whole sea bass by night, the joint is humming. Save room for the homemade ice cream and check out the Sunday breakfast called Marky Mark and the Funky Brunch.