Boston Chefs Turns Up the Heat

Baked beans … clam chowder … and cream pie. Sounds like a menu made just for indigestion, right? While anyone researching Boston dining will probably come across 7,000 articles for the city’s best lobster roll, there’s a ton of ways chefs are turning up the heat when it comes to creative dining and cocktail options.

Crudo becomes art thanks to Robert Sisca, who recently returned to his roots as executive chef at Bistro Du Midi. At this prime location overlooking Boston Public Garden, expect color, flair and flavor thanks to his French bistro fare with coastal New England influences. It’s altogether contemporary with the classic shellfish towers Boston visitors crave. Two levels offer two experiences — one more intimate, the other more upscale — and creative dishes like a prawn-, mussel-, and calamari-studded bouillabaisse flatbread.

Matadora Mezze © Brian Samuels

Matadora Mezze © Brian Samuels

At Bambara — conveniently located at family-friendly Hotel Marlowe with its Kimpton Kids program — chef David Bazirgan, or “Chef Baz,” brings the spices of his Armenian heritage to the table. At just $2.50, the home-baked choereg bread with Za’atar spices and whipped cream butter may be the best deal in town and it’s also used as the base for the Armenian breakfast sandwich and French toast at brunch. Don’t miss the pumpkin falafel, housemade hummus or salmon with curry yogurt.

No meal is complete without a sweet ending, and self-titled “pastry sorceress” Kate Holowchik is making that happen at Capo in South Boston. Once a residential area filled with mostly mom-and-pop pizza shops, the neighborhood is now swinging with singles ready to mingle, shops, bars and fun restaurants like Capo and sister restaurant Lincoln. There’s always a surprise but brunch is really a can’t-miss affair with indulgences like chocolate turtle doughnuts with chocolate custard filling, caramel glaze and candied pecans; and zeppole ricotta doughnuts with white chocolate and pistachio crumble, burnt orange caramel and ice cream.

Before Capo, Holowchik was the pastry chef at Yvonne’s, which transformed the Boston dining scene from Brahmin to swinging and sexy. The restaurant’s space as an 1862-era supper club was reinvented as a lounge and library, with shared small plates, creative cocktails and killer atmosphere that two years after opening still make it one of the hardest places to get a reservation on a Friday or Saturday night. It’s worth checking out one of the newest restaurants from this group, Matadora, located just outside the city at the newly renovated Boston Hilton Woburn. The “center court” tapas concept includes live Spanish guitar most nights of the week, seating to watch the open kitchen and there’s free car transport here for groups within a few miles of city center. (The hotel also boasts an indoor pool, great for kids.)

Going out clubbing on a Monday night? Boston has a new excuse to ditch the golf shirt and pleated pants and go out mid-week now that there are a few options — most notably The Grand and its Vegas-like Champagne bottle service in the bustling techy Seaport District. Big Night Entertainment opened Scorpion Bar’s sexy and sensual Mexican dining concept adjacent at the same time last fall, joining a slew of the neighborhood’s new restaurants and entertainment concepts, like Trillium Brewing opened just this October. Expect big things from Big Night next year, when Boston’s first casino complex Encore opens.

Matador Chefs Counter © Brian Samuels

Matador Chefs Counter © Brian Samuels