Big Night Entertainment Group brings the all-day European cafe-restaurant experience to Boston with Explorateur.
“Explorateur is a trip back to what I first loved to do,” says co-owner and partner Ed Kane from a booth at his new Theater District restaurant. “My first restaurant, Stars, on Hingham Harbor has been open for almost 29 years and is still one of my favorite projects. Stars was the hardest to get right though because there were so many moving parts. That’s t he same feel ing with Explorateur. It’s my new love.” The eatery is the brainchild of Kane, co-owner of Big Night Entertainment Group, which also counts venues like Empire, Gem and Red Lantern in its portfolio. An avid traveler, Kane—who names the Nomad in New York and The Wolseley in London among his favorite cafe-restaurants—worked for years to bring Explorateur’s allday dining to fruition.
The cafe serves coffees and bakedin- house pastries, including cakes, croissants and cookies.
The space Explorateur now lls at the Grand Masonic Lodge had sat empty for six years before Kane and his partners put their magic hospitality touch to it. Kane installed chefs Michael Morway and Jacob Mendros to turn out classic dishes like crunchy croque monsieur with rich French ham and toast piled high with smashed avocado and a pillowy poached egg. e Explorateur salad is packed with fresh vegetables including kale two ways, raw and crispy. Salade Niçoise arrives with lightly seared tuna and perfectly cooked haricot verts. For heartier fare, Kane loves the bone-in chop Pork Milanese with mâche. Dessert is everything you want your last bite to be; pastry chef Morgan Gray’s creamy chocolate mousse comes ecked with big salt crystals and a side of whipped cream, while a crème brûlée has a crust so evenly torched it feels sacrilegious to splinter the caramelized top. is being a sister restaurant to some of the best nightlife venues in Boston, Explorateur bears a full cocktail, beer and wine menu designed by beverage manager Gina Goyette that you can enjoy at a booth or the pewtertopped bar. e space has already attracted a who’s who of diners, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Red Sox owners John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino, and musician Peter Wolf.
While the masons retain use of most of the building, Explorateur covers a 5,000-square-foot space, including the darker, sexy (hello, leather and velvet) Library Bar adjoining the restaurant. The main space is 45 feet by 110 feet, nearly unheard of in Boston’s historic buildings. Kane worked with designer Peter Niemitz of Niemitz Design Group to give the restaurant a vibe that evoked both Europe and Napa Valley with a crisp color palette of greens. Custom Ralph Lauren lamps cast light on the plaster ceiling with original dental and ribbon detail, and the Fornasetti mural keeps an eye on customers in the 66- seat cafe. Guests can pop into Explorateur for a latte and croissant at the marble and brass pastry counter or settle in for a longer meal in the dining room. “I think Explorateur simply reminds people that full service and fresh food is available all day in a glamorous and welcoming setting.”