Destination Dining in the Suburbs
BY VICTORIA ABBOTT RICCARDI
Restaurateurs have started taking a Field of Dreams approach—“If we build it, they will come”—in the areas surrounding Boston. Top toques are setting up shop in places like Waban, Milton, and Marblehead, where rents tend to be lower, buildings more spacious, and liquor licenses more affordable. And they’re hitting a home run: Business is booming, and residents finally have a neighborhood place that knows their name and offers stellar cocktails, a cool vibe, and fabulous fare.
5 Corners Kitchen, Marblehead
“I wanted to bring big-city taste and sophistication to the suburbs without the pretentiousness,” says 5 Corners Kitchen’s chef-owner, Barry Edelman, who previously cooked at Lumière in Newton and Aquitaine in Boston. With exposed black beams and jelly-jar light fixtures, the 100-seat restaurant says “downtown.” So does the French bistro fare, which includes fresh organic salmon with chickpea-bulgur salad and cod beignets with saffron rouille, arugula, and a lemon-anchovy vinaigrette. “If I had this restaurant in the city,” says Edelman, “I would have to charge at least double.” 2 School St., Marblehead, 781-631-5550
Waban Kitchen, Waban
Jeffrey P. Fournier, another veteran of the Boston cooking scene (Pignoli, Locke-Ober, and Excelsior), opened 51 Lincoln in Newton Highlands seven years ago and now has this new spot in Waban. “There really wasn’t anything else like it around,” he says, “because many chefs didn’t think suburban diners would want fancy dishes.” Fournier proved them wrong. The 44-seat, contemporary American eatery has terrific cocktails and rustic dishes like steak tartare, five-spice chicken over mashed potatoes, and blackened shrimp with grilled polenta cakes, roasted morel mushrooms, and spring onion salad. “I have a better quality of life,” says Fournier, who lives in Newton with his family. “I can even ride my bike to work.” 1649 Beacon St., Waban, 617-558-7677
Steel & Rye, Milton
Last November, Chris Parsons, former owner of Catch and later Parsons Table in Winchester, opened Steel & Rye, a 150-seat American-style restaurant in Milton Lower Mills serving New England–inspired fare, like fresh and fried Cape oysters, roast chicken with gristmill grits, and local spring pea soup with crème fraîche and lobster. “The area lacked really good restaurants,” says Parsons, who looked at places in Boston before snapping up the cavernous space and giving it a grittychic design. “I wanted to be the neighborhood place that’s quality-oriented enough for a 30th wedding anniversary dinner, yet fun and comfy enough for a beer and appetizers at the bar.” 95 Eliot St., Milton, 617-690-2787
For Nancy Batista-Caswell, who recently opened Brine in Newburyport (across the street from her newly relocated Ceia Kitchen + Bar), operating in the suburbs has enriched her relations with her customers. “We have a one-on-one, table-totable experience,” she says, referring to the intimate, 62-seat oyster, crudo, and chop bar, known for its oyster shucking station, excellent crudo, and Sausage de la Casa , a wild boar and pork sausage served on a freshly baked baguette with a side of brined seasonal vegetables and pommes frites. “We write down the wines that customers ordered, walk them to the door, and personally shake their hand.” 25 State St., Newburyport, 978-358-8479
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JANICE MANIATIS AND JONATHAN KAY (SALMON), COURTESY OF BRINE (SAUSAGE)
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