Where to Go? What to Order?
Looking for a place to eat in Boston? The "must-try" spot for Dumplings? Dim Sum? My favorite burger or pizza? A Gluten-free menu or an out-of-the-way find?
People often ask me where they should eat in Boston and what they should order when they get there.
“Go Here, Eat This” posts are my quick reviews of good spots to eat. I’ll let you know what is unique about the place and include some of my favorite dishes. These may be either house specialities, indicative of the cuisine, or just ones that I really enjoy. I'll also try to add observations like whether the place is friendly to those with allergies, or disabilities, etc., those things it might be helpful to know.
Search on “where to go” or “eat this” or just check back on the Noshes, News, and Notes page for these new posts. If some write full reviews, think of these as small plates: quick to consume but full of flavor.
Go Here, Eat This - 51 Lincoln
Eating at 51 Lincoln is akin to being in the company of a slightly eccentric and much-loved relative. The Aunt who has traveled further than anyone else, who wears unconventional hats or the odd piece of jewelry, each with a fascinating story. It is full of grace, good hospitality, and quietly shows its character, seasoned by life and peppered with the loving remnants of adventure.
Chef Fournier's art adorns the walls.
One of the first things you notice is the good buzz in the room. Not the raucous, clanging sounds favored by restaurants downtown eager to prove they are the hot new thing. It's located in Newtown Highlands, a stone’s throw from the green line in a tidy row of tony shops and those that strive in that direction. Apparently, they roll the sidewalks up at 5 because my first visit (a media dinner) seemed like something from a sci-fi movie. Where are all the people?, I kept wondering. They were inside the restaurant!
Never mind, this only contributes to the sense of adventure. Once inside you are cosseted in a place that feels like home, if your home were decorated by that well-traveled slightly relative with expensive tastes.The art on the walls, most or all of it, is painted by the chef owner, Jeffrey Fournier. It might be the most brash thing in the room, adding a splash of color here and there to the understated decor.
The food arrives promptly even with the dining room nearly at capacity. The menu changes regularly with fun specials like May’s “30 days of Crab” in which each day offers a new special using this seasonal ingredient like soft shell crabs. The wines are paired with a parallel 30 days of specials. Sommelier Miguel Escobar is enthusiastic and just the personality one hopes for when it comes to ordering wine. He’s knowledgeable without making one feel bad if you are less so. He’s proud of the list and eager to share a taste of what’s new, special or exclusive to the restaurant.
...a knockout rosé
Outstanding taste memories from my first visit included the house-made charcuterie which shines in all aspects and includes the most ethereal head cheese I may ever have tasted thanks to Sous Chef Max Burns. “Ethereal head cheese” probably three words you’re not used to seeing together, but there you have it. The menu strikes the right balance between familiar flavors and daring notes.
Kudos to Sous Chef Max Burns for the ethereal head cheese
Local and seasonal
These words form a popular mantra for many restaurants. At 51 Lincoln, they take the phrase, but not themselves, seriously. (fried pickles anyone?) Dishes are thoughtfully put together with really local produce and a sense of humour is in evidence. They’ve started a rooftop garden which they hope to expand in 2012. This year, look for “rooftop assisted” dishes like the most excellent Pat Woodbury’s clams with Hungarian Wax Peppers, cilantro and tomatoes from the roof.
Meats are from small farms and co-ops around New England, backyard favorites like Allendale Farms, much of the meats are grass-fed and pastured. The menu recognizes local producers simply and servers were mostly able to answer questions on the spot.
Artful plating is an affront if the food itself is not satisfying. Here one gets the best of of both worlds. The “Fluke Amok” pays homage to a recent journey to Cambodia and is plated in a large banana leaf which gently cups the perfect-sized fillet and the lemon grass, ginger scented coconut curry. Watermelon steak is perhaps the farthest reach toward fun, but it added more of a surprise element to the meal. Frickles are another example of the humour in the menu, tasty, too.
Using catch of the day, fish may vary, this was fluke.
Fried + pickles = Frickles
End the meal with desserts, cheese board, and after dinner drinks, MEM teas, or George Howell coffees. No desserts disappointed, even sorbets came in interesting flavors.
“Where’s the Cake Lebowski” was a hit with Coen brothers fans at our table.
Beginning to end, (roof)top to bottom, this just-outside-Boston restaurant was a delightful surprise for this city girl. I’m definitely going back.
Where to go:
51 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands
Lunch M-F 11:30- 2:30
Dinner Mon - Sat 5:00 - 10:30
What to eat:
Any “rooftop assisted” is a good choice.
Get the clams if they’re on the menu.
The charcuterie is a standout and shows a skilled kitchen.
Ask what specials are particularly good that day and definitely have a conversation with Miguel Escobar their sommelier.
A cheese board is available and but for my dairy allergy, I’d have tried that with Miguel’s pairings.
Unique about this place:
...are the rooftop-assisted dishes.
Up there ...
...where cilantro grows.
More plantings are planned for next year
and they've begun composting.
Emphasis on local ingredients with unique global flavors.
Classical influence, modern sensibilities.
Classes offered beginning this "soon".
Mondays and Tuesdays are dollar oyster days, belly up to the bar.
Wednesdays - wine flights and pairings.
Full bar and thoughtfully prepared wine list and drinks menus, both reflect “old school” and “new school” offerings. Bar menu includes a handful of dishes from pasta, to tacos and burger, as well as charcuterie cheeses and snacks.
They bake fresh breads every day.
House-made charcuterie is a stand-out.
Street level access, near T.
cozy private dining room, downstairs.
Questions? Comments? Please drop a note if you've eaten here and share any dishes you think are on the "must-try" list!