Boston magazine's 25 best new restaurants 2015

#1

Thiughts? (New to Boston so don’t know enough to comment yet)

  1. Tasting counter, Somerville
  2. Shepard, Cambridge
  3. Banyan Bar + Refuge, Boston
  4. Study, Cambridge
  5. Hojoko, Boston
  6. La Brasa, Somerville
  7. Select Oyster Bar, Boston
  8. The Backroom at Moody’s, Waltham
  9. brewer’s Fork, Charlstown
  10. BISq, Camridge
  11. Center street cafe, Jamaica Plains
  12. The Bancroft, Burlington
  13. Chef Chang’s on Back Bay, Boston
  14. Loyal Nine, Camridge
  15. Babbo, Boston
  16. Cafe Artscience, Cambridge
  17. Liquid Arthouse, Boston
  18. Dumpling Palace, Boston
  19. Boston Public Matket, Boston
  20. santouka Ramen, Cambridge
  21. Rosebud American kitchen & bar, Somerville
  22. Woods Hill Table, Concord
  23. Comedor, Newton Centre
  24. Josephine, Boston
  25. Committee, Boston

Who’s been and do you agree? I have such a long list of places to try already, would you add any of these to the must try list?

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#2

Only been to The Back Room at Moody’s. I thought it was fabulous. The rest of the list, haven’t tried. I don’t go into Boston to often to dine.

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(adrienne) #3

I’m a big fan of Hojoko, Babbo, and the Boston Public Market. Banyan and Moody’s have been on my list for a while! I think the list seems pretty solid from my perspective.

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#5

While probably not completely inclusive, I think this list is a pretty good representation of some of the worthy new openings in the area. Below are the ones I have tried or are on my list along with a few quick comments.

Tasting Counter, Somerville: Posted about my experience in this thread Tasting Counter visit (Somerville, MA)

Shepard, Cambridge: Tried it once, food was good but nothing super memorable. Definitely still working out service kinks. A very interesting crowd of older Cantabrigians, almost like a living Cambridge museum.

Banyan Bar + Refuge, Boston: I haven’t been able to bring myself to try it yet. I sorely miss both Hammerselys and North by Northeast.

Hojoko, Boston: Love it. Many places throw the term izakaya around, but Hojoko is headed in the correct direction. Sake selection is well procured. I stay away from the nigiri and sashimi here, as the too small cuts are reminiscent of O Ya. However the rest of the menu is delicious and reasonably priced. Mmmmmm…Hamachi Kami and grilled Whole Prawns…

La Brasa, Somerville: Definitely not a 2015 opening and I don’t consider it new. Haven’t been here since the spring. I liked it on opening. I think they are a bit ahead of their time in that location and evolving the menu to try to survive. Some of the special events (pig roast, etc) look enticing. Great bar service and I love the space. Hope they make it without changing the initial focus too much.

Select Oyster Bar, Boston: Fantastic addition. Lots of conversation about the included tip, but it doesn’t really bother me as the service is always right on. Beautiful room, great food, drink and atmosphere. I wish they took reservations (though they are now on Reserve app). Also, we have been there a few times for an early dinner when the crudo special is already out which is always a bummer. The rare place I’d be happy to eat at any time.

The Backroom at Moody’s, Waltham: #1 place on my to try next list!

BISq, Camridge: Haven’t been personally, but sent some colleagues last week and they loved it. I like Bergamot less than the general consensus, but will try BISq at some point.

Babbo, Boston: One of the best values around. Menu is a combo of the original Otto with some Babbo dishes thrown in. Food and service are consistent. Family friendly as well. Another strong addition to the local scene.

Cafe Artscience, Cambridge: Just posted about this yesterday, love it. Cafe ArtScience becoming one of our standbys (Cambridge)

Liquid Arthouse, Boston: Went once. Nice atmosphere, food was a mixed bag and service slow. The menu is relatively standard.

Boston Public Market, Boston: The location, access and parking isn’t very convenient for me, and I was a bit let down that most options there can be found at farmers or winters markets I already attend. I am hopeful the vendors will evolve over time.

Santouka Ramen, Cambridge: Very nice addition to the area. I’d personally like to see more options in this category. Not mind blowing, but very good and consistent. My go to for ramen. Friendly service and smart effective seating system. Ramen season is here…

The diss on Townsman at the end of that article was interesting. I can’t say I disagree. The food is much less focused than the chef’s previous effort at Farmstead in Providence. I felt like it was a poor value with uneven food over several visits. The condescending arrogance I saw from the chef firsthand while sitting at the tasting counter on my last visit (and also rears its head on social media was astonishing). It was really out of character from what I experienced at Farmstead, but I suppose success can go to people’s heads.

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Eater Award 2015 for Boston
#6

I don’t have any personal input on these places, but I did read recently that the chef de cuisine at Committee (Geoff Lukas) died unexpectedly a few weeks back.

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#7

We’ve been to Rosebud a few times. I feel like this list might be more appropriately titled “notable recent openings.” It’s been a mixed experience at Rosebud overall, but it’s notable for sure that they took the historic space and opened something with potential. Best new restaurant? Probably not. Worth a try if you live nearby? Yes.

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#8

I live a block away, so I’ve been there quite a lot. They did an amazing job of transforming the space, and I appreciate how nimble they’ve been with the menu. I wouldn’t really call it one of the best new restaurants, compared to some others.

Best things on the menu: the Texas Rachel in a Skirt, the really terrific brussels sprouts, their smoked wings – my favorite in town, easily – and the dry-fried green beans. Whatever they have on special is always worth getting. I have fond memories of their double-thick smoked pork chop. The smoked pig head is worthwhile with some friends – kinda grisly, because you’re eating pig face, but as a dining ‘event’ it’s like nothing else in the area. And the folks who run the place couldn’t be nicer. Brunch is tasty too.

Weirdly, the two things they really trumpet – their pie and their bar – have left me wanting. Most of their pies are just kind of okay, with the exception of their indulgent turtle pie and the bright, rich grapefruit-caramel pie, both of which are long gone. And while their cocktails are perfectly fine, I hate paying $11-$13 for a just-decent manhattan or rickey, or $8-$10+ for a beer.

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#9

Completely agree. I had a really great lamb chop special there once- the first time it was woefully overcooked, but sent it back and got an excellent plate of food and no attitude or anything from the servers about sending it back. Pies have been disappointing- I probably read your post about the grapefruit-caramel and keep trying various pies hoping one will match it, but alas never succeeded in getting anything worth repeating and never was able to try the grapefruit. I also work nearby and I actually see people pushing racks of pies across Summer St and in the door on a regular basis, so not sure exactly where they’re baked but I can vouch that it’s not in their kitchen.

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#10

Wow thanks for the additional info on all those. I need to get out more but since I just moved here I’m also working through all the tried and true staples too.

On a tangent. I’ve caught a few episodes of the phantom gourmet weekend mornings. Are they just a “pay to play” program (always my knee jerk feeling about those things) or is there any credibility to their reviews. Not that I’m relying on them but sometimes they review things from more distant locations and since I’ve been doing some exploring I was wondering if I should pay any attention if something comes up on a show.

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#11

Welcome back to town. Where were you living previously?

Yes, Phantom Gourmet the ultimate pay to play show. That’s not to say they don’t have some decent finds and recommendations, but I would corroborate with another source (ask here or even check Yelp reviews). There is a lot of foodie hate for PG, but I take it all with a grain of salt. All media outlets have some sort of slant.

PG tends to be stronger in the comfort food segment (wings, steak tips, huge desserts my kids like). That’s not meant to be a diss as I love that stuff too.

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#12

Yeah. What is up with Lukas dying at 32 ?!? That is really young. My daughter will be 28 in january.

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#13

I just moved to the area from Ohio (Cbus) grew up in NJ so it’s good to be back east.

That is what I thought about FG and yes I got the same sense that it is a lot of burger/bar food type places - but I love a good burger.

Thanks for the feedback!

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#14

Welcome to the area! Formerly of Columbus-area (Gahanna) myself.

It’s kind of crazy visiting Columbus these days after time away and seeing what a foodie town it’s become.

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#15

yeah, I dunno. There were zero details in the very few reports I read, I think only Boston magazine really ran anything about it, at least from what I saw. Given all that & the apparent unexpected nature of the death I tend to think of certain possibilities, but without any facts at all to go on I wouldn’t want to voice them.

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#16

Agreed.

The “please dont ask any questions” nature of the news reports make me think you might be right.

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#17

Motivated by this discussion, we had a(nother) fantastic early dinner at the bar at Select tonight. Tatoug tartar (daily crudo special), stone crab claws (1st of season), scallop ceviche, madai crudo and sardines were all impeccably fresh. They do a great job developing delicious dishes that still feature the taste of the actual fish as the focal point. I forgot, but their wine selection is very well procured.

We went early, but there were still seats available when we left at 7:30. Talking to our server at the bar, she said business has been steady, but Boston Magazine’s description of ‘endless’ wait times is completely off base. They don’t Neptune lines, and even if there was a small wait Select is in a prime area for taking a stroll or grabbing a drink.

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(Tatsu) #18

Hello ex-Chowhounders. This is my first post here. I’ve decided to leave CH for good after this post got censored because of a policy that CH’ers cannot mention Health Dept. violations. It is a ridiculous policy and after back and forth over email with the moderators, I said goodbye. I was so angry I said I’d wage a campaign to finish them. But I suppose leaving is bad enough.

Anyway my thoughts that got censored. It’s more of a potential additions list since I already posted my opinions of the Bo Mag article.

No list is perfect, but I agree, this list is far better than similar groupings from the past. Committee may be the least, but it’s also last on the list.

My would be revisions:
Cha Yen opened up in July 2014, but it was pretty much unknown until October. I think I ate there 3 times in 4 days, was completely astonished, EATTV wrote a thread, and then you reviewed it of course MC Slim, then it got a Boston Globe review. Out of all the “unknown” places I have “discovered” and been a big proponent of, Cha Yen has the most potential for greatness, and chef Manita Bunnagitkarn is living up to it. So I would absolutely add it to the list. I would add Godavari, which has the best dosas in area and fine Andhra Pradesh dishes at dinner time. I would add Shaanxi Gourmet for their foray into contemporary Chinese cuisine and possibly MDM Noodle, even it’s just the 8 or so noodle soups. It’s still good after chef changes. Sichuan Gourmet House is fairly strong, but I prefered the sadly closed by Framingham Food Health Dept., Red Pepper. (They have an outlet in Worcester still.) It’s the kind of place that would get lots of love in SF, but frankly, we can do better.

I have never been to Moonshine 152 but it was getting a lot of good press before everyone lost their minds over Townsman. (Intentionally unprofessional but well known blogger Bunny and Pork Belly’s review of Townsman mostly consisted of “wtf” and “never again”. shrugs) I have never seen so many restaurant critics and industry types break their own rules about going in early on a restaurant opening. It’s like Jennings was Count Dracula with telekinesis over his bitten supplicants lordy. Then Select Oyster become so white hot it was added to the Eater 38 mapsicle even before it opened. What an insane spring 2015. Anyway Moonshine 152’s newness moment got rubbed out in a hurry and I’m sorry I haven’t tried in myself. So in similar brazen too new to add fashion, but I personally vouch for its excellence after almost 9 months of taste tasting and about 5 years of knowing the chef Ken Iwoaka - is Ganko Ittetsu Ramen. The Tan Tan Men will recalibrate what you thought possible in ramen. Finally, I would add Morano Gelato as a special mention, it’s just next level stuff, just wow. Also not restaurants but stunning in sweets and bakery are Praline and Cafe Madeleine.

So to recap:

Must:
Cha Yen Thai Cookery
Godavari
Shaanxi Gourmet
Ganko Ittetsu

Nice:
MDM Noodle
Sichuan Gourmet House

Consider:
Moonshine 152

Sweet Tooth Awards:
Morano Gelato
Praline Artisanal Confections & Bakery
Cafe Madeleine

I guess as a postscript I’m glad Asian is starting to get the attention it deserves, but let my foot in the door, and I’m obviously going to push some more candidates through. As someone who covers almost everything Asian it’s ironic that the one fine casual restaurant I suggest is helmed by an Asian-American woman, and doubly so that I haven’t visited myself. Not that her food is Asian or I’m exclusively the Asian eats guy. I devour all and expose myself to every cuisine out there.

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#19

Hey, Tatsu- welcome. What specifically is mind-blowing at Cha Yen? Will head on over.

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(Tatsu) #20

Sukothai, Pla Ped Cha, Curry Puff, Kao Soi, anything Duck, Mushroom Larb. That would be a good first visit!

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#21

Was also a big fan of the roti and the corn fritters before the Type 2 diagnosis ( and dropped a lot of high glycemic load foods AND 30 pounds).

The mushroom larb is crazy good.

The owner/chef couldnt be a nicer woman, get to this joint before she opens a bigger place and it is packed.

Also, good to see you Tatsu and I will greatly miss the Red Pepper- Noodles with Stewed Beef in House Spicy Soup in Framingham now that the weather is growing cold.

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