Greater Boston Restaurant Reviews

The Fireplace

goat_cheese_salad The Fireplace is a New England grill and barbeque, with an emphasis on wood-smoked and rotisserie dishes (created by Chef Jim Solomon) that rely on the freshest offerings of the New England region.

So says the web site — does it hold true? Here’s the experience of Thin (Ann) and Thick (Vahe) on a balmy Saturday night, a few weeks back.

Thin: I love restaurants that have a warm, welcoming vibe right away…

Thick: Yes, and The Fireplace was, true to its name, warm and cozy. The colors – the reds, oranges, yellows — fit the name perfectly. And the restaurant’s neighborhood location makes it feel like it’s the comfortable living room of the whole of Washington Square.

Thin: Right — then again, it felt extra cozy because the maitre’ d” recognized my name from Twitter… and was particularly welcoming. Which put me in a bit of a quandary: Is it ethical to announce that we were coming via Twitter? Would we be treated differently? Then I realized we’ve had about two visitors to this site — not counting family (!) — so I shouldn’t take myself quite so seriously…. 😛

Thick: Ha. Well, from what I could tell, everyone there felt welcomed. Not just us.

Thin: I guess that’s the key – from the interaction on Twitter, I had a sense of the people behind The Fireplace, and it was obvious that they put their heart and souls into the place.

5124d740-576c-4f24-8bcc-93579fcdb4bb_300sqThick: But the real point was the food.

Thin: Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I can conjure up thoughts of the salad I had there (Sweet Corn, Green Bean, Roasted Red Pepper and Baby Spinach Salad with Chive Blossom, Blue Cheese & Pure Massachusetts Wildflower Honey Vinaigrette, $12). And suddenly, all is right with the world. Yeah, it was THAT good.

Thick: Chive blossoms. Nice. Touch.

Thin: Yes — they really were. With the tang of the blue cheese and the mild sweetness of the honey vinaigrette, the whole salad really sang…

Thick: I loved my endive salad (Belgian Endive Salad with Goat cheese, Apples, Watercress, Candied Cashews and Raspberry Vinaigrette, a special during restaurant week). Yeah, that was awesome, too… I can still taste it. In a good way.

Thin: Not a fan of the cashews. If I had that, I’d still be tasting them, too. In a bad way.

You know how, in school, there’s always some star pupil that makes the rest of the class — as competent as they might be — look kinda average? Even in an AP class? That’s how I felt about the poached salmon (Cold Poached Salmon with Cucumber Dill Sauce, Roasted “No Mayo” Potato Salad and Summer Asparagus, $28). I mean, it was good, but it just wasn’t spectacular… given the company it kept on the menu.

Thick: I dunno – my cod wasn’t overshadowed (Pan-seared New England Cod, a special) was perfect. Loved the mustard vinaigrette. But most of all, the crunchy wild rice with dried cranberry was a perfect counterpoint to the tangy vinaigrette and the soft cod.

Thin: Yum…

Thick: The all-American wine selections were interesting, too. Kind of went with the locally-grown sourcing idea that is the backbone of the menu. I’d never had Virginia wine, before (2004 Albermarle, “Simply Red” Albermarle County, VA, $9/glass)… and it was surprisingly decent!

Thin: I also love the way that the Fireplace has a kid’s menu. Granted, there weren’t a lot of kids there the night of our visit. But that said, it’s nice to have the option of bringing the kids. There’s nothing worse than trying to celebrate a special family occasion and your only option is Bertucci’s.

Thick: And it’s consistent with The Fireplace’s warm, welcoming, friendly, accommodating vibe.

So here’s the question: Would you go back with me?

Thin: In a heartbeat.

Photo credits: We Are Not Martha


Filed under: Massachusetts, West of Boston, , , , , , , , ,

Summer Winter

oystersWhen you want oysters and you live North of Boston, there aren’t too many choices. Surprisingly. Either that, or we just don’t know them. (Suggestions welcome in the comments!)

A Google search for “raw bar” turned up a few possibilities, one of which was the pricey Summer Winter in Burlington. Here, in our inaugural post on the Thin&Thick blog, Thin (Ann) and Thick (Vahe) discuss the evening we spent there.

Thin: It was very hot in Boston, and to me that means seafood. Cold seafood. Like shrimp. No—oysters! Which is kind of funny—because oysters don’t, if you think about it, look like much like food. They look like rocks—sharp, gritty rocks full of something that resembles phlegm (to paraphrase The Atlantic). If phlegm was tasty. I didn’t even eat an oyster until very recently (at Morton’s) and now I can’t get enough of them.

Thick: Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it “phlegm,” but I know what you mean. Oysters don’t exactly look appetizing. Which is probably why you don’t see too many kids sucking them down… And why I never tried one until very recently. It was in Cambridge, remember? What was the name of that place? It was an amazing experience. Slimy and acidic and just plain out-of-the-ordinary yummy.

Thin: Really? That was your first time?  At Harvest?

Thick: Yeah. And I was hooked, on the spot.

Thin: Well, I guess you always remember your first time… when it’s an experience that’s decidedly memorable. Oysters aren’t the most obvious thing to eat, either. But interestingly oysters have been a staple of human diets since prehistory. To archaeologists, piles of shells are often a good indicator of human civilization.

Thick: I actually do remember something like that from my archeology classes.

Thin: Summer is the season for oysters in New England, and that’s what drove us to Summer Winter, since Google told us that the restaurant has a raw bar.

Thick: Yes, the Summer Winter oysters were excellent, I thought. Pricey, though ($3.50 each, $35 for a dozen). And it was fun to try the four different sauces: Juniper gin red onion relish, cocktail sauce, chili cucumber mignonette, orange-Tabasco sauce.

Thick: I know which one you liked best.

Thin: Which?

Thick: The cucumber! You hardly left any for me. I enjoyed trying all of them. It’s a new experience still, so I don’t yet have a favorite.

Thin: Ah… yes, the chili cucumber. Good stuff. I guess I’m kind of a purist when it comes to dressing an oyster, though, even after only two actual orders of them! I kept wishing for a simple pile of horseradish to accompany a squeeze of lemon and cocktail sauce.

Thick: I can see that… The cocktail sauce definitely could’ve used a bit more zing.

Thin: But that said, the presentation was flawless, and the guys themselves nicely cleaned and chilled.

Thick: Let’s move on to something that wasn’t quite as good.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Massachusetts, North of Boston, Pricey, West of Boston, , , , , , , , ,

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