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Boston Chops, A New South End Steakhouse, Is The Real Deal

Boston Chops, A New South End Steakhouse, Is The Real Deal


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Get your chops on at Boston Chops

When looking for a good steakhouse in Boston, people head toward the Back Bay area or the Theater District. This can all change now that a high-end steakhouse finally opened in the South End.

On Monday, March 4, chef Chris Coombs and Brian Piccini, the super duo from Deuxave and dbar, opened the doors to their third restaurant, Boston Chops. At Boston Chops, you can experience all of these things, and more.

The design team has done well with the interior at Boston Chops and the space is unrecognizable from its former occupant, Ginger Park; leather banquettes, deep reds, and a large glass wine cellar create a feeling a warmth and richness.


This weekend: Grab a passport to the Great American Beer Festival

The Great American Beer Festival will be held online this year. Irmelamela / stock.adobe.com
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10 things to do in Boston this weekend

We’re all eating a little differently these days: Cooking at home more. Ordering takeout. Now that Phase 3 is well underway, though, some of us are starting to sip cocktails on patios and enjoy indoor dining again. Whatever your comfort level, here’s what’s been going on in Boston’s restaurant world recently, plus a few ways to enjoy some of our region’s best restaurants and bars from both the comfort of your own home and out in the world.


Brian Lesser: The (Almost) Silent Partner

Brian Lesser signs a lot of checks, and he quite prefers that to go unknown. It’s a sunny Wednesday afternoon in mid-June, and the owner of the hottest collection of restaurants around, including Alden & Harlow, is noshing on barbecued pulled pork at the Smoke Shop, in Kendall Square. “Did you ever notice there are two kinds of good tippers?” Lesser asks rhetorically. “Those who need to let you know about it—and those who don’t.” Wearing baggy shorts and an oversize T-shirt, with dark sunglasses resting on his salt-and-pepper hair (his reliable everyday uniform), Lesser doesn’t look the part of a local tastemaker with fat-cat investors and celebrity chefs on speed dial. Even by the end of his lunch, it’s unclear whether the waitress realized she’d just served the guy who not only paid her tip, but also signs her paychecks.

For the most part, Lesser’s business strategy places him happily behind the scenes. (“I can’t believe he’s agreed to an interview” was the common refrain offered by nearly everyone he works with.) His MO is to partner with rising culinary stars itching to have at least a partial stake in their own venture—usually hype-heavy chefs who want to be the face of a restaurant yet, despite years of kitchen work, lack the means to fund their dream or the business savvy to ensure its success. Lesser brings money, experience, and industry relationships to the table, and once the business is up and running, he and the chef are expected to respect their roles: Lesser catalyzes, counts beans, and keeps the back office running, while his partner chops, cooks, and gets his or her name in lights. “I’m just a private person,” Lesser tells me. Plus, “When you’re out there, you’re exposed.”

As president and CEO of Speakeasy Hospitality Group, Lesser’s track record is sterling: 11 openings, with more on the way, and just one closing. The company’s current portfolio of high-profile, chef-driven hot spots boast combined revenues of $34 million. After 30 years of running restaurants, Lesser—who lives with his wife, Jana, and three sons in leafy Weston—has won the kind of stability that can seem elusive in the culinary world. His recipe is simple: Find the best talent and silently build an empire.

It’s no surprise, then, that with each pocket-deepening success, Lesser extends his influence over the region’s restaurant scene, whether diners know it or not. As chefs continue to serve as cults of personality, he’s the star maker who gives them a platform to shine: a Svengali who can launch careers, set local trends, and shape city tastes while reaping big rewards, all by following his unique business formula.

His first smash hit was in 2011 with Sweet Cheeks, a Fenway restaurant that marked the highly anticipated debut “solo” effort by chef Tiffani Faison, runner-up on season one of Top Chef. Soon after, Lesser had his hand in Harvard Square’s hat trick of fine dining: Alden & Harlow, Waypoint, and the upcoming Longfellow, all with chef Michael Scelfo, whose profile skyrocketed after he earned a prestigious James Beard nomination for his work at Alden & Harlow. Meanwhile, Waypoint was honored in May as one of Food & Wine’s best restaurants of the year. Lesser also has big plans for the Smoke Shop, his partnership with barbecue guru and Hell’s Kitchen alum Andy Husbands. A Boston location is slated to open in December, a third outpost will arrive at Somerville’s Assembly Row in the spring, and Lesser is also looking into merchandising opportunities. Other Lesser-owned properties include Naco Taco, a kitschy Mexican restaurant in Cambridge, and a pair of nightclubs: Storyville, in the Back Bay, and Tunnel, a subterranean dance den under the W Boston hotel. On the surface, these properties have little in common. You’d never know the same guy was behind each one.

Whether he likes it or not, though, Lesser is not as low-profile within the local hospitality world as he is among diners who show up at his restaurants each night for great food and a glimpse of a well-known chef. Of the half-dozen insiders I spoke with, everyone seemed to know of him, though far fewer knew much about him. From his partners to industry publicists, some gushed while others huffed about his bullnosed, father-knows-best approach. What’s left is an urban legend whose reputation occasionally coalesces into that of a gourmet Godfather, as well as someone who gives glimpses of a soft side even as he’s entirely capable of playing hardball.

When it comes to Lesser, the real story is a whisper in the night. Who is the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain of Boston’s restaurant world? And is his unique way of doing business strengthening the local dining scene and cultivating the next generation of culinary stars by launching their careers? Or is Lesser merely riding talented coattails all the way to the top?

Each of Lesser’s deals is its own special snowflake. Given his self-acknowledged reputation for privacy, I was more than a little surprised that he laid out his basic recipe for success: The majority of his projects, he tells me, start off with around $1 million, largely money he and his deep network of investors bring to the table. He and another operator, usually the chef, go in together as general partners. Lesser handles the back-of-house business: building the initial operational backbone and then running the ongoing finances. At first, as dollars start to roll in, investors take the lion’s share. Once they’ve recouped their agreed-upon rate of return, say 125 percent, Lesser muses, the deal flips: General partners, including the chef, earn the majority of the money, while investors divvy up the balance for the life of the restaurant—akin to earning royalties on a song they cowrote. Lesser, who says he often maintains a majority interest in his properties, considers it a solid success to flip a deal in four years.

Acquiring that know-how took Lesser a lifetime of trial and error. Some of it, including a passion for food, was inherited. Lesser’s father, Lewis, was a proto-foodie (and “frustrated restaurateur,” Lesser says) who sparked his son’s interest in the dining world. An administrator for a group of Catholic archdiocese–affiliated hospitals by day, Lewis Lesser would diligently research and catalog under-the-radar restaurant gems by night, regularly driving Lesser’s stay-at-home mom and his two younger siblings an hour or more from their New Jersey home to find the best paella or by-the-slice pizza. In high school, Lesser cooked at local restaurants and was soon brawny enough to work as a doorman and bartender. At a New Jersey after-hours club, crowds stretched down the block and a “colorful, animated” owner, Lesser says, regaled his motley crew of teenage staff with industry tales over afterwork drinks. “When I was growing up,” he says, “owning your own place was the dream.”

After studying business and hospitality at the University of Denver, Lesser took a job in New York City with Loews Hotels, then became director of room service for the Helmsley Palace, managing a department that generated $7 million a year and seeing the hyper-exacting standards of billionaire businesswoman (and eventual convicted tax evader) Leona Helmsley, the so-called Queen of Mean, up close. “She spoke like a truck driver,” Lesser tells me. “Everything was f-this, f-that. She was really tough, really difficult, and she’d fire people left and right. Sometimes she’d rehire them in the same sentence.” Still, he says, “I learned some valuable lessons.” Helmsley’s commitment to quality, for instance, was unimpeachable, and Lesser liked her philosophy: Guests may not always be right, but they’ll get whatever they want—provided they can pay for it.

Lesser arrived in New England in 1987 to help open the Boston Harbor Hotel. Several years later, his mother took out a small mortgage on her home to help her son open his debut solo restaurant, Caffé Briacco, in the Financial District. In 1993, he launched a sandwich-and-smoothie chain called Wrap Culture, which he later sold to Boloco. Lesser also partnered with a company called Boston Hops, which owned and operated popular Back Bay nightspots Vox Populi and Barcode during the 1990s. From the start, says media mogul and early Lesser supporter Richie Balsbaugh, who launched Kiss 108 and eventually sold more than a dozen radio stations to Clear Channel Communications, Lesser’s “work ethic was like his approach to poker: methodical.”

In 2002, Lesser launched his most prominent project to that point: Saint, a swanky club that ushered the ultra-lounge concept into Boston by combining bump-and-grind nightlife with more-ambitious food from Réne Michelena, then a recent Food & Wine best new chef winner. Saint became the kind of VIP-baiting lounge that lured pro athletes and TMZ-camera-courting pop stars into its corner booths. Owning the venue, however, had a downside. “It needed a lot of money,” Lesser says, “and there was a lot of pressure on me to make that work.”

Despite Saint’s success, the experience taught Lesser that compared with restaurants, trendy clubs have shorter shelf lives, require regular reinvention (in 2011 he rechristened Saint as Storyville), and cost much more to market and promote. So he pivoted. Looking to take some of the risk out of the inherently risky hospitality business, Lesser started to work on a plan to drive quality as well as revenues by focusing on smaller, chef-driven projects he could control. “I learned that I could be profitable and have nothing to show for it but a tax bill,” Lesser says. So, “I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how restaurants really operate—the financial components that make things successful—and trying to master them.”

It’s 4 p.m. on a gorgeous afternoon, and Lesser is sitting on the sidewalk patio outside of Mida, his new South End trattoria on Tremont Street across from Parish Café. We’re talking about the restaurant industry and poker—two subjects he knows well—when he smiles and taps the side of his neck, showing me where to look for a throbbing artery that indicates an opponent is nervous. “You don’t play the cards,” he says, comparing business to poker. “You play the person.”

For the most part, chefs find Lesser’s business model fair and valuable far beyond price. “It’s almost unimaginable that I would have been able to open this restaurant without him,” explains Mida chef Douglass Williams. Since 2008, Williams, who once worked at Radius and Coppa, has operated a private chef business. When he went looking for guidance and a partner to help him launch his first restaurant, mentor and restaurateur Christopher Myers, of Myers + Chang, introduced him to Lesser. “It’s hard to even find the ball to start rolling it,” Williams says. “Getting to that point will give you an aneurysm if you don’t have the right person on your side.”

Chef Tim Maslow, a golden boy of the fine-dining world until he folded his restaurant and fell from grace, says his cautionary tale is the perfect example of why Lesser is an asset to rising chefs—and, by extension, to a restaurant scene that benefits from having a veteran businessman guiding its next generation. For just three years, Maslow owned Ribelle, in Brookline. The esoteric Italian-inspired eatery received a rare four-star review from the Globe in 2013 and oodles of national nods for its then-29-year-old culinary star. Unfortunately for Maslow, his boy-wonder status in the kitchen didn’t translate to the back office. One ill-advised business decision after another eventually forced him to close the restaurant. Around the same time, U.S. agents arrested him near the Canadian border in Vermont on drug charges—an incident well documented by the press. Though the charges were dropped within a few months, Maslow was left with a wounded ego and a stained reputation.

That’s when Lesser moved in. At first, he tapped Maslow as a consultant for Mida, hoping to bring some added sizzle to the South End spot. The duo, Lesser says, is also finalizing two locations for a new “forward-thinking” restaurant concept. Maslow vows that this time will be different. “The downfall of Ribelle,” he says, “was that 80 percent of my time was pulled away from the kitchen and toward administrative drama.” He wishes he’d had an objective voice in his ear to keep his spending in check. “There was no one to give it to me straight,” he tells me. “I needed somebody to tell me I was spending double what I should for that location, that I didn’t need an $80,000 cooking suite. I needed someone to sit there and draw the lines for me so that I could color within them.” In a city where restaurants seem to open and close as often as diners’ mouths, a seasoned pro like Lesser offers a fighting chance for chefs big on vision but short on operational experience—ultimately pushing the local dining landscape in interesting and progressive directions.

Not everyone who works with Lesser, however, is as enthusiastic as Williams and Maslow—or as eager to talk about him. A number of people who have known or worked with Lesser throughout his career didn’t respond to interview requests, while others declined to comment when asked about their experiences. Some described a hard-nosed businessman with a paternalistic approach, which is bound to bring out mixed emotions—especially when chef-size egos are involved. Lesser’s immediate air is of someone wily but warm, likable if a little inscrutable.

Like in any business partnership, sticking points come down to money. Lesser typically sinks his own capital into a project—a necessity, he says, to prove to other prospective investors that he “has skin in the game.” But it also means that Lesser is eating from both sides of the pie, raking in earnings both as an investor and as a general partner who often holds a majority share. “I usually ask people if they’d rather own all of one dollar or half of five bucks,” he tells me. “It sounds like an easy question. But it’s not, if people are honest with themselves.” In addition, Lesser doesn’t enter into deals that allow general partners to buy out investors, meaning his stake in the company remains secure. “I don’t think that’s fair to the investors,” he says. “I believed in you from the onset, I put my trust in you, and if it’s wildly successful, I should be staying in there. It’s a home run for everyone.”

Back at the Smoke Shop, chef Andy Husbands says it all boils down to expectations. “In a partnership, you have to see each other’s value,” he says. “You have to respect that different people bring different things to the table.” Husbands retains sole ownership of his South End restaurant, Tremont 647, which he opened in 1996, and says the experience made him want to partner with Lesser this time around. “He frees me up to do what I love,” Husbands says. “I don’t love dealing with insurance or printing checks, but all of that financial structure is the foundation of the house. It’s the most important thing, and [with Lesser], it comes together before you’re even open.”


Oishii Boston

Mickey? – The food was fine. BUT I really think my sister and I were slipped some sort of a mickey! I had one drink and I had to hold on to the railing to walk down the stairs! I decided not to get any other drinks-- usually I get 2 or 3 total if I go out to dinner.

My sister did have 2 drinks and also felt overly intoxicated

Also, we both had nightmares all nite and WICKED dry mouth!

South End offshoot of award-winning sushi spot serves a pricey, expanded menu in minimalist chic environs. – In Short
With more than three times the seating of the original Chestnut Hill location, the South End Oishii provides a roomier, slightly more modern setting in which to enjoy perhaps the city's highest-regarded sushi. While most diners stick to the raw stuff, some opt instead for hot dishes like beef yaki ishi, a heaping portion of vegetables, rice, and steak on a sizzling stone grill.

At some point Japanese cuisine has lost its way in Boston. The fact that Oishii sits near the top of the food critic ratings is evidence of it. People seem to be wowed by sushi coated with expensive items like truffels and exotic caviar. Hand rolls now tend to be drenched in mayonaise and spices (this is a well known technique for sushi chefs to get rid of the cheaper and older parts of the fish that they would have otherwise thrown away). The only difference with Oishii is that it makes you pay triple what other places charge and they serve it to you in a pretentious dark Euro bar atmosphere. Even the way they serve soy sauce is an insult to Japanese cooking. Whats the deal with the huge soup bowl for the soy sauce anyway? Compare this to some fine restaurants in Japan where they dont even serve you soy sauce. Why? Because good fish should stand on its own. Oishii does get some of the freshest fish around, but it manages to mess up everything around it. The sushi rice is overcooked, and some nigiri zushi was served on some silly parchment paper which looked fancy but then stuck to the rice as it fell apart. Poor form. Its too bad that people think that this is good sushi and are willing to pay ridiculous prices for it. Just look around though. You wont find any Japanese people there (including the entire chef staff) or anybody who has spent any considerable time in Japan.

Rip off, who do they think they are? – Poor service, for these prices I expect the best and got nothing close to good service at this restaurant. I left hungry, after forking over almost $200.00 for a meal for two. Substandard

Over priced pretentious fish shack – Went on 6/8/08 for fiances birthday. Kobe beef $60.00, small portion. Other portions very small. Waitress loud brash American girl, stated when she realized we were new to the experience "Our chefs recommend you trust them to cater to you, starting at $135.00 to $150.00 PER PERSON. Are you kidding me? We do not use chop sticks, again, she LOUDLY stated "I WILL GET YOU SILVERWARE!" We were seated in the main dining room, across from the sushi bar, therefore on top of the other diners, as it was a long couch, with tables for two coming off. Service abhorent, beverage glass usually empty. Additionally, we did not opt to buy the bottled water,and were served WARM tap water. The bill was outrageous, and I am still annoyed at my fiance for tipping well. Bad experience, over priced pretentious

totally disappointed – was delirious as i heard the news about oishii boston opening: it was RIGHT DOWN THE BLOCK from my work!!

went there to try it out last summer when they first opened, but was instantly disappointed. the food was good but not original anymore. they inserted too much gimmick and names of exotic ingredients that you can't even pronounce, but when the food came you didn't feel like you were getting your money's worth. even for die-hard special rolls that i liked from the old place (ex. torched yellowtail roll), the price is marked up but. even if they gave you the exact same food it just feels very different here.

in the old location, when i ordered about $100 (for 2) worth of food we consistently stuffed ourselves we had to rock-paper-scissor the remaining few pieces. but here i paid the same amount and walked out feeling empty (both belly AND wallet!). the only thing i liked from this place is the dessert. had a green tea tiramisu and that at least concluded my meal on a good note. but the whole experience just made me yearn to go back to the old, humble location in chestnut hill for solid quality and real food. this place is too pretentious (decor is very nice, though), unauthentic, and overpriced for me to return.

Best Sushi in Boston – Have been here three times and all were great. Prefer to sit at the bar since the dining rooms are cold and dark. The service is very good, the sushi wonderful and just an overall great experience.

Awful Customer Service – Was on a double date last night, thought the food was great, and was having a wonderful experience until during our desert, the manager asked if we enjoyed everything and then asked if we would "move on", as other people were waiting and they were really busy. I have never experience such rudeness and obnoxiouslness from a manager, at what is supposed to be one of Boston's high end restuarants. If he had just showed some patience he would have realized we were just finishing up. If you want to spend a lot of money and be disrespected by management go to Oishii.

GET GREAT SUSHI IN BOSTON – I love this place. I used to always go to the Chestnut Hill location which is just as good with their food, however, the Boston location is a nicer restaurant. After dinner tonight I did not feel over full, although plenty satisfied. Our waitress was very knowledgeable and American- it was very easy to talk to her (only Asia's work at Chestnut Hill). If you want great sushi and can pay the price for it, make Oishii your choice. The shaved ice desert, Miso soup and the lobster sushi are great, also try to the meat sushi- made with red meat.

nice atmosphere, nice set up, wide sake menu, fresh sushi, entrees need tweeking. – oishii is definitely one of the best japanese place of boston especially for fresh raw fish. the others are fugakyu (for entrees) and uni (for sushi). The atmosphere is modern and chic, barely can hear the music, the lighting is nicely dim. the hostess and waiting staff are friendly and helpful. the sake menu is comprehensive. the only complaint is that some of the food wasnt to taste. the ingredients and freshness were there, it just could use some improvement. the desserts are fab, i had red bean creme brulee. the green tea tiramisu was okay, a bit too rich. overall, i liked the place,

Highly Suspect – I felt compelled to write my first review on Citysearch of Oishii after going there Friday night, being only semi-impressed with the food, and then looking on this sight to read what other people thought, wherein I came across one review after another that were enthusistic to the point of being ridiculous. Then I discovered, upon clicking on some of the reviewers' names, that a disturbingly high proportion of these individuals had each only written one review in the past--the one raving about Oishii. To me that is fairly suspicious. Check for yourself, but if someone is trying to skew the reviews in Oishii's favor, that's pathetic.

Truly Outstanding! – As a Lexus Dealer, I see the Japanese theory of GAIZEN (Continuous Improvement) in practice everyday. Oishii Boston needs no GAIZEN, their execution is 100% perfect. My wife and I recently flew to Boston on business and as she is orginaly from Japan, she was dying to go to the top SUSHI destination in the city. We both had OMAKASE. Beginning with an incredible traditional dragonfish soup and finishing with an exquisitely perfect chopped mango desert, while experiencing knowledgeable and attentive service, this restaurant afffords a top notch dining experience. I reiterate, top notch. Any one of the cold appetizers is an exquisite blend of flavors and exotic and fresh ingredients. If you love sushi, are not afraid to experiment, this is the only place in Boston you need to know.

Great food, but service was poor and left us feeling unfulfilled – After going to the location in Chestnut Hill, we wanted to try this location for a special night out. Right away I was impressed with the decor, although when you sit in the 2-person tables you are uncomfortably close to your neighbors.

I am in agreement with the other reviews about the high quality of the food. It was delicious and I don't have much to add in that regard. Where Oishii Boston really struggled was in the service. Our waitress was completely uninterested in explaining items on the menu and was nowhere to be found for about half an hour. After taking our order she never came back to check on us-- other staffers brought our food, filled our glasses, etc. If she HAD come to check on us, she would have realized that we never received our appetizer prior to our meal.

We were so disappointed in our serer that we left feeling very unfulfilled, despite the tasty food. When you pay such a premium price for dinner, you want to be made to feel special. You want the staff to acknowledge you and to provide you with outstanding service. Unfortunately, this was not the case at Oishii Boston.

Don't eat the Kobe Beef – Kobe beef is a treat, so naturally I found myself very excited to order it here in the states instead of having to go to Japan. When dining out, one believes that they can trust the establishment to provide what they say they say they are providing Organic means organic, kosher means kosher, Kobe means Kobe. For a $60 appetizer, I at least expect good quality. This is Kobe "style" beef and NOT a very good immitation. Another thing, the service (I'm use to a much higher quality at this price. even at Great Bay) and their training must not be included in the price, but deception is. I asked the manager if it was real Kobe beef and he said "Of course." Then I asked a server(who was friends with the person I was dining with) and she confided "actually it's from Australia and it's not the highest grade either." What?! On top of that, the sushi was not the melt in your mouth quality I was expecting, they are soy nazis (and not very good soy) and LOST IN TRANSLATION: cold and impersonal. There are many authentic sushi bars t/o the world that I have been to where they had more personality. Ugh, this place was a serious disappointment. Don't waste your time or money. It's better spent flying to Japan for the real thing no joke.

Serious Sushi – The sushi here is outstanding, this is Boston's attempt at progressive, excellent sushi without being afraid to charge what it should for amazing quality, innovation, and technique. I ate at the shop in Chestnut Hill for years before this opened, and as the ambience there was appropriate for the location, this new south end, minimalist location is dead on. I knew once the chef took a chance and expanded into Boston, it would be a success, and a job well done. I guess good things come to those who wait.

The cost is high for the food here, although if you wanted to get some typical roles, with fabulous presentation and excellent fish you could have a less expensive dinner. What you pay more for are the specialty rolls, sushi and sahimi.

I am disturbed by anybody who mentions the F-word when discussing Oishii, possibly another confused BU student? The food at Fugakyu is not very good and the ambience is like visting Japan in Disneyworld.

This and Uni in the Elliot Hotel put Boston on the map for outstanding Japanese cuisine.

Check this place out! You would be a fool not to.

Great Service and Amazing Sushi. – AMAZING! The restaurant was very busy and a little noisy but our server Elizabeth was incredibly calm and accomodating. She walked us through the menu with great expertise and made what could have been a very intimidating experience incredibly pleasureable and divinely delicious. We tried things I never would have if I hadn't had her advice. Worried about the cost? Ask for Elizabeth tell her your how much you'd like to dole out per person and she'll make it happen! We had an great time, phenomenal sushi and sake. The kitchen was a bit slow making the maki but our servers' attentiveness totally made up for that. I'll definitely be back as long as Elizabeth is there to guide us through to new and exciting choices!!

Solid Creative sushi, but Bad customer service – The food was good. The tuna tartar was amazing. Sushi was fresh. But when I got my $60 Kobe beef 'medium rare', it was crispy as a piece of charcoal and drowned in a thick teriyaki sauce! We had them take it back and it was better the second time around, but I've had better steaks for a lot less. The service was awkward at best. Not exactly in tune with customers. I wouldn't go back but if you have the money to spend for solid sushi, not a bad choice.

Completely Impressive. Better than Tourist Traps in NY. – We were visiting from New York. We are sushi experts (originally from Japan). We usually eat at Masa and other New York restaurant for Sushi. But many places are now tourist trap (like even Las Vegas has NOBU in Hard Rock Hotel). We eat at Oishii and have tasting OMAKASE! It is soo excellent. Even my wife who is impossible to be pleased loves it! We had duck in apple this is best dish! I highly recommend. This food is creative and better than NY. Maybe student in Boston does not know good food. Experts say food is excellent. A+ recommend.

SHAMEFUL SERVICE WAY OVERPRICED – At best this sushi establishment is a wannabe of a wannabe Nobu. The absolutely horrible service we received on all of four occasions is by far the worst in boston for such a high-priced place. Staff that try to clear dishes before you are done waiters who literally forget about you for 45 minutes. You will not find a restaurant in Boston where dinner averages $75 per person with SUCH POOR SERVICE. The service is similar to what you might expect in Chinatown. The sushi is not bad, but it definitely does not live up to the price. If Chef Ting is serious about maintaining a good restaurant, he'd better shape up his staff, b/c this writer does not plan to return and has spent a total of over $1300 at his restaurant.

Sadly, if you want truly good sushi, you have to go to NYC - I know it's hard to believe, but true. Otherwise, better to go to Fugakyu, where at least you don't feel totally ripped-off.

Note: I would be very suspicious of most the reviews - many were likely written by people affiliated with staff .

best INNOVATIVE sushi/japanese cuisine in boston. – i have been here about 10 times since it has opened after falling in love with oishii in chesnut hill, and I can surely say this is the best sushi I have ever eaten. This is not for the novice, spicytuna roll loving sushi eaters but rather for people who are interested in innovative and amazingly fresh japanese cuisine. The seared hamachi and sudachi roll topped with japanese limes were AMAZING, the sashimi was like nothing ive ever had before, baby hamachi, THREE differents types of tuna toro not to mention salmon and hamachi toro. last week i had their specials ankimo soup"(monkfish liver) which tastes like foie gras and the superfresh uni served in the shell. sweet and creamy. The servers were knowledgable and attentive..this is the best restaurant in boston.

Best Sushi In Town – Oh my god your tastebuds will thank you. Even if you are a picky eater you'll love this place. There is more to it than sushi. They have a Grilled Black Cod that makes my mouth water just thinking of it. They also have some pretty unique rolls, and the atmosphere is very nice. Top quality cuts, tightly wrapped sushi, great wait staff. Definately a great place for celebrations, romantic dinners etc.. If you've been to Nobu, This place is almost as good. That's the quality we're talking here. Pricy, but worth it.

One of the top 3 meals i've ever had – The place is amazing. ridiculously expensive, but amazing. Make sure you try the spicy tuna handroll!

Most eclectic and exotic sushi list I've seen in the U.S! – Fantastic experience at Oishii Boston. The food was Oishi (delicious), the service was impeccable and friendly, and even my fellow patrons were a delight. Don't let the fabulous list of specialty maki distract you from the ala carte list. Rock shark and mantis shrimp, red and black snapper to name a few! Omakase. omigoshe.

Worth circling for a parking space! – Oishii's spartan decor can make you feel as though your eating in an underground tunnel - almost. But that's the sole complaint. Portions are small on sight but when the meal is over you are so satisfied! Parking can be tough in the South End but kkep circling for a spot. Don't miss this place

Best sushi – WE ARE PARTY OF 5 WOULD LIKE TO CELERBRATE OUR FRIEND BIRTHDAY. AND SHE EVER TRY RAW FOOD OR SUSHI BEFORE SO WE WENT TO OISHII (one of our friend recommended) We have no clue what to order since we look at the menu and listen to all specials that our waitstaff told us. We end up try almost everything that she recommended start of with toro tartare serve in ice block, salmon with truffle and gold leaf and also spicy tuna tartare one of the special we really love it. But our birthday girl didn't touch anything. So our waitstaff told her to try grilled black cod in miso sauce she start to like it. Then we order some sushi and sashimi now we let her try some bluefin tuna. First bite kind of hard for us to ford her then after that she try several of our maki (hamachi with truffle, white tiger, rock shrimp, name after you,crispy salmon,the maki, alligator) so she try one of each. She thanks us to bring her here. It was the most wonderful birthday she ever had./ Thank you oishii

FAMOUS ANONYMOUS JAPANESE CHEF! CULINARY MASTERPIECE! DON'T MISS THIS PLACE! – OUR 6 COURSE OMAKASE (TASTING MENU FOR TWO) WAS EXQUISITE! WE BEGAN WITH BABY HAMACHI AND ELEPHANT GARLIC AND FINISHED WITH GREEN TEA TIRAMISU (SAMPLING FOUR OTHER EQUISITE DISHES IN BETWEEN). I HEARD A RUMOR THAT THIS PLACE IS ACTUALLY OWNED BY A FAMOUS JAPANESE CHEF (ITS HIS FIRST VENTURE IN THE US). THE FOOD WILL CERTAINLY ATTEST TO THAT! THIS PLACE WAS SPLENDID! PERFECTLY INFORMED WAIT STAFF! WE ARE OUT OF TOWNERS BUT WILL VISIT EVERYTIME WE ARE IN TOWN! ARGUABLY BETTER THAN NOBU! (CERTAINLY DIDN'T HAVE THE SNOBBERY) I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW WHO THE CHEF IS THIS PLACE WAS UNREAL!

MINDBLOWING! I DIDN"T KNOW FOOD LIKE THIS EXISTED! – My boss treated me to dinner at OISHII Boston as part of a performance incentive. There were 6 in our party, and the service was handled smoothly and efficiently. The food was incredible! We began with a bunch of assorted rolls and hot appetizers: truffles in Sushi, who does that, simply AMAZING! Everyone had very different entrees but I tried at least four different dishes: Black Pepper Pork Chop: INCERDIBLE! Sea Bass in tofu skin: CRISP! Rib Eye: SENSATIONAL stuffed with mushrooms, and an assorted Sashimi basket was INDESCRIBABLE! Overall this place is a must try! My new go to spot to entertain or wow out of towners! Boston needs new and incredibly different places to sustain its culinary diversity! this place is a pioneer and it is well worth paying for!

Some of the most disorganized service I've ever seen, and the food wasn't even worth it! – I'm a die-hard fan of Oishii Too in Sudbury, so I was excited for a closer, larger, and more chic location. These are in fact the only improvements at this location, and they come at a great expense. The reality is that the food at Oishii Boston does not meet the Oishii standard! It's just not THAT special, and certainly does not justify costing nearly twice as much. I'd like to recommend it to folks who are looking for a really chic place for dinner, and to whom money is no object, but I cannot recommend even under these terms. Here's my story: there were seven in our party, and we had a private room. Our waiter took our order, and then we never saw him again until the bill came. In the mean time, the servers were all over the place. First, they poured soy sauce all over my friend's piece of spicy toro guken ($7/piece!) because he had it sitting in his bowl- they had not brought us plates yet. Three people ordered entrees from the kitchen, and these came out at least 45 min before the sushi was served. Then another server brought some other table's sushi by mistake. It's gets better. The original server then came and asked if we were all set, and we hadn't been served our sushi!! Hello. Finally, the sushi arrived, and we were underwhelmed. Definitely not worth the price. Then our original waiter showed up to bring us the bill, and upon taking a closer look we realized he brought the wrong bill. And finally, rather than charging $40 to a friend's credit card, they charged $140 (it was later corrected). Yes, it was a circus. The service team was clueless. Although I give good marks for the restaurant design in general, there is apparently some confusion among patrons as to the location of the restrooms, as many strangers stepped into our room before realizing it wasn't the bathroom. My own bill was $55 w/tip (no alcohol), and I went home hungry.

Pricey, but delicious!! – Oishii is terrific! We went for sushi awhile ago and had the most incredible meal. Its definitely pricey, but worth it.

Deliciously Overpriced – Is this restaurant a little rediculous with some of the sushi prices? Yes, but it's worth it for the experience. The restaurant is different than anything else in boston, could easily fit in in New York or LA, though a little small. The fish is of excellent quality and there are many delicious makis (like spicy tuna tempura). The appetizers are very small (it would make sense to order about 2 per person) but they are definately not cheap - averaging around $20. The entrees, at least none that we got, stood out as much as the maki or other appetizers (we tried the scallops, tuna pancakes, steamed gyoza). The sea bass, salmon and rib eye were good but not something that will stick out in my mind. The desserts were very good - green tea tirimisu, ginger ice cream, chocolate molten cake. One thing they could've done better was space out dishes more as we shared them all - it is definately a great sharing restaurant. Also there was an issue with the bill that was removed after a slight attitute from the manager (who i didn't even request to talk to, i just assumed they would credit $5 for giving me the wrong sea bass, my bad). Came out to about $90 a head without alcohol. Definately worth checking this place out though if you love japanese food and a nice atmosphere.

expensive. but very delicious – It was a very nice dining experience: pleasant service (attentive but not intrusive) fresh & delicious sushi, sashimi, maki and a tasty green tea martini. As other reviewers have said: portions are quite small, and the bill adds up quickly. It is certainly not a good value, but the quality is high.

10 STARS! (On a 1-5 Scale) Exquisite and Totally Individual! – We had an amazing four course dinner at Oishii in the South End on Friday. There is no restaurant even remotely resembling it in Boston. The food is like art, and the only things better than the presentation and the quality, are the completely unexpected mix of flavors. A flash-fried tempura tile fish wrapped around a rare japanese grape was an incredible juxtaposition of flavors. The Sashimi is stand-up quality, and I did not expect the Rib-Eye to be as rich and flavorful as it was. Wow. NY quality palace of fish. 10 STARS.

Not Worth It – Sushi has never been abang-for-your-buck type of meal. Oishii Boston takes this to a new level. OUTRAGEOUSLY overpriced!! (rolls average 18-25 dollars) This wouldn't be so terrible if the Sushi really was exceptional, but it's not. It's good, not great. Certainly nice to have space to sit, but I'd rather get takeout from their original Chestnut Hill spot. Prices are more reasonable, and the sashimi is just as fresh with bigger pieces. Don't bother with Boston unless you want to leave a restuarant dissatisfied and hungry.

Best Sushi In Boston – The South Boston location is a much larger and more contemporary space than the teeny Chestnut Hill Oishii. This location strives to be chic with no sign outside the front door, coed bathrooms and dark intimate lighting. The sushi and sashimi, however, are the same. This means the absolute best you can eat in Boston or as good as anywhere in the USA for that matter. There is an extended hot menu at this location as well including noodles and an array of Japanese appetizers.

Prices for the South Boston location appeared to be a bit higher than the Chestnut Hill location.

OVERPRICED SUSHI POOR SERVICE – I HAVE BEEN TO THE CHESTNUT HILL LOCATION AND THEIR SUDBURY LOCATION AND THOUGHT THEY WERE BOTH GREAT.HOWEVER THE NEW SOUTH END RESTAURANT IS NOT AS GOOD. IT IS MORE EXPENSIVE AND THEY SEEM TO BE IN A HURRY TO TAKE YOUR PLATE AWAY.THE SERVICE WAS POOR. I HAVE BEEN TO UNI NEXT TO CLEO ON MASS AVE AND IT IS FAR SUPERIOR. WHEN YOU SPEND OVER $100 FOR DINNER THEY SHOULD CATER TO YOU.THEY DON'T AY OISHI.

Savory Flavors – I was very excited to hear that Oishii opened a location in Boston. In terms of location and size, this is certainly an upgrade from the Chestnut Hill Location. The interior design is very chic and modern! The food was exceptional and I savored every flavor such as the Torched Toro roll that was topped with caviar, truffle, and truffle oil! It was divine! Overall the prices were $$ but well worth every bite! Last but not least - we finished off with the Green Tea Tiramisu! - that was soooo delicious!

Exquisite Japanese Like NYC – Exquisite! Exceptional! Totally Unique! We ate at the new Oishii location in the South End after hearing a friend compare it to NOBU and MASA in NY. We split time between Boston and NY so we were hoping to find a place to enjoy top notch Japanese Sushi in town. This place blew us away. I had the Madai Appetizer with a Pomegranite Spritzer, followed by the Jumbo Shrimp sheathed in intertwined cucumber. Both dishes were exceptional. Another member of our party had one of the UDON bowls, and we split a bottle of sake. This place is truly unique in Boston. The interior decor is minimalist NEW ASIAN, and really tastefully designed. It is not, however for the unitiated. It is not an average sushi bar, it really is a testament to ultra-fine (read money is not an object) quality Sushi dining. It is an A+ dining experience and should not be missed, but only for the connoisuer. There are plenty of sushi places in Boston that offer adequate rolls. There is only one place i would consider going for NY caliber ultra-fine Japanese dining. Let's face it, Sushi is not for everyone, and experimental high caliber Sushi has an even smaller audience. This place knocks the cover off the ball for those who are in the know.

creative sushi but DO NOT GET FOOD.

– I was looking forward to trying this new restaurant because of the stellar reviews for its old location. Although the rolls were more creative than other Japanese restaurants in Boston, I'm not sure that they were so spectacular as to justify the price (most rolls were

$17 or more). We ordered some cooked appetizers and tempura and it was HORRIBLE. It was the worst tempura I've ever had in an upscale restaurant even the batter was not authentic tempura batter. Just fried food alone does not equal tempura.

If you're looking for a trendy atmosphere and are willing to pay the price, despite the restaurant's location on the seedier end of Washington St., then give this place a chance. Otherwise, stick to Douzo or Osushi.

EXCELLENT FOOD, VERY DELICIOUS! – i went to oishii boston one night because my friend told me it's good there. i went there with my gf and we both like it. it's different from ALL the sushi restaurant in boston. we spend 250 for two ppl, it expensive but i got what i pay for because everything taste good. i was actually surprise it's not like another "sushi restaurant" in boston and serve the same kind of sushi (california roll, spicy tuna roll. etc). i guess many ppl agree that a lot of sushi restaurant serve similar items right? i would recommend oishii boston to my friends for any special occasions, since the atmosphere is nice and the food is delicious. decoration is not my favorite though. the ceiling doesn't look very attractive, but everything else looks good. i like the lounge area but i think they should put a plasma there. anyway. enjoy the food there because you will not be disappointed.

Perfection! – From the impressive entrance, to the masterful dishes, this place is a winner. I highly recommed trying the black pepper pork chop, easily one of the most intriguing and tasty dishes I have ever had!

A Whole New Level! – I opened this account just to write this review, the food was that good! My wife and I ate at this new restaurant in the South End last night, Oishii. We had heard that it was a new take on Sushi, a more upscale version. This place rocked our world! First of all, the place is gorgeous. Very rich looking in this minimal asian way, even the plates look rich. I have liked Sushi for a long time but I have never had anything like these awesome dishes! Its like going to Number Nine Park for japanese food! Creative and delicious every dish was like art! Regular sushi will never be the same! This place is like something from NY or San Francisco with its intricate and complex menu of hard to find fresh fish! For the exotic nature of the place I didn't mind paying prices in line with ultra-fine dining! This place is one of a kind. A must go-to for the Sushii (or interior Decor) Connoisuer.

The Definitive Temple to High Concept Japanese – Oishii Boston is the gold standard for innovative food in Boston. Departing dramatically from run of the mill Sushi Bars, their food is a tier above, using truffles, gold leaf, and bar none the highest quality fish available. If you like California Rolls and Tuna Maki, head to their casual Chestnut hill location. If instead, you are looking for a restaurant where each dish is a culinary landmark, head to this South End hotspot, replete with decorative two story waterfall, and cutlery fit for a Japanese emperor. My 5-Course Dinner cost me $100 About ? the price of the Japanese Uber-Temples of NY or Philly. It featured a refreshing cold eggplant soup laced with California Uni, and an exceptional tuna tartare with fresh ginger. These two light appetizers were followed by 3 knock-out examples of show quality preparation. A baby hamachi, thinly sliced and topped with elephant garlic, olive oil and a few other accoutrements was sigh inspiring, a seared sockeye salmon with truffle butter was an exquisite little gem, and my Sashimi of Super White Tuna and Ama-Ebi (Sweet Shrimp) was perfectly chilled, served atop a platter of ice. The grapefruit granite for dessert was a perfect finish. The atmosphere and service were exquisite, the interior is an exceptional use of space. Oishii Boston is guaranteed to be a culinary sensation, it is to Japanese what LEspalier is to Boston French. If you're not afraid to pay for unique greatness, Oishii Boston is your spot. Go now before you have to wait weeks for a reservation as this place is going to be a monster success.

After the Chronicle television review on the best sushi in boston yesterday, I had to try it. It was so good! The atmosphere was very modern and beautiful. The lobster I had was so tender and juicy with grilled pineapple in a tangy yuzu. The dinner was so light and healthy, however surprisingly full of flavor. If you want to get full, go to a burger joint. If you want to taste the most innovative food I've tasted in a long time, definately go to Oishii Boston.

The best sushi restaurant ever. – I've been waiting for this SE location for a year because it's close to where I live. I finally got a chance to go there today, and I was amaaaaaaazed by their foods. Especially the presentation of the foods. You can't find this kinda sushi restaurant unless you take some times driving down to NYC. I kinda agree with some other comments that the price of this location wasn't affordable at all. Still, I think it's the best place in Boston to go for the special occasions.

Thank God, we haven't had this kind of Japanese restaurant in Boston for so long! – Even though the price there is not "that" friendly, I still feel worthy! I highly recommend this one for special occasion to all the sushi lover! The quality of food, the service, and atmosphere. everything there just lighted up my night. The bill was kind of big, so what? There is nothing wrong to buy myself a treat!

Prices are too exorbitant. Pay up big or leave hungry :( – I ate at the new restaurant that Oishii just opened in the South End with two of my friends and we really liked the decor inside but when we opened the menu, we had no idea how we were going to afford the prices :((( I had eaten a few times at the other Oishii restaurants in Brookline and the food was always good but I don't remember the prices being nearly as high. As a result, I selectively chose a few dishes (much much less than I normally order) and the bill still was really expensive - plus I was still hungry. The food was good though, about what I expected so that was nice but there are so many excellent restaurants in the South End to choose from that I probably will not return. Next time I'll just hop in my car and head to Brookline for the old, cramped sushi bar experience that I used to enjoy.

How can sushi be so expensive!? – The food was okay, but our bill was so high! It was close to $100 for two and we were still hungry after the dinner. Average quality sushi shouldn't be that expensive. We should have gone to Ginza. I don't think I will go back.

IT IS THE BEST SUSHI, WORTH EVERY PENNY – We are THE BIGGEST Oishii fans ever, I would have to say, ever since Oishii 1 in Chestnut Hill first opened. We have just recently visited the new Oishii in the South End, just one word to describe it "INCREDIBLE." Head Chef/Owner - Ting San has Amazing talents, he has created a brand new menu for his 3rd restaurant in the South End. I have to admit though the price is a bit up there, however, you do get what you paid for. The food is worth every penny. Everything they use are top ingredients, things like morrel mushrooms, Ossetra caviar. rare fishes such as sockeye salmon from copper, Uni directly from Hokkaido Japan. and not to mention their services, if you want to be served and treated like a royal highness, that is the place to go..

Loved it, LOVED EVERYTHING – We visited today because it was my anniversary. My husband knows I love Sushi so he took me to this new place that just open for 4 days.

As I walked in the place the hostess greeted me with a warm smile, and I walk in the hallway to the dinning room, I hear and saw the water fall with water dripping to a pond on the lower floor. It feels so good to see the big water structure like that in the restaurant. It just relaxed me instantly. Especially with the heat wave we had in Boston.

The food, Service, Yum! It was most greatest experience I ever had. I don't have to go to NYC anymore. It's like youre in SOHO. But you are only in SOWA.

Oishii MESSED THIS UP SO BADLY. DO NOT GO TO THE SOUTH END LOCATION. This is the only review you need to read! – My girlfriend and I have been long time supporters of the Oishii chains in Chestnut Hill and Sudbury. That excitement ended abruptly with our first order from the South End store, a takeout order. We will NEVER go back. First off, my order took 20 minutes to place because no one knew the menu (Customer Creations, what are those?). I thought, "hmm, must be growing pains, everything will be okay". Then I placed my order only to learn that the prices had increased which did not dawn on me until I got my itemized bill. The prices are more more than the top sushi restaurants in NYC (Nobu) and Philly (Morimotos). For example, Rachels sushi is $7 for two pieces at the Chestnut Hill ("CH") restaurant, in South End ("SE") it is $13 for two pieces (thats $7.5 for scallop on a bed of rice with a lemon wedge). Oishii SE reinvented sashimi as only 2 pieces of fish, although it means 3 pieces at every other restaurant including their other stores. Salmon sashimi costs $7 for 2 pieces of fish. What?? Spicy Crispy Toro Gunkan - $3.5 per piece at the CH store, $7 PER piece in the SE. Jeffreys Maki - $9 at CH store, $13 in SE. The WORST part is that the quality has dropped. In the restaurant business they say food & price are everything. Oishii doubled the prices and cut the quality in half. I spent $80 for 21 pieces of sushi (I counted). I then called the South End store to check if a mistake had been made and was told only that the prices had gone up. Huh? I never write reviews but I created an account just to write this. I love great cuisine and don't mind spending money but this is outrageous. If you are smart, you will follow my advice - go to the Sud or CH stores OR never go back to any Oishii. I believe that Oishii's chefs make some of the best sushi in Boston - they just made a HUGE mistake with the SE store. One positive, the inside looks nice. I guess that's cool.


Old-school downtown steakhouse primed to open new South Austin concept

When Perry’s Restaurants first announced plans for a brand-new concept in December 2018, it only provided a sketch of the details. Now, Carve American Grille has revealed the full picture, including the opening date.

Led by acclaimed restaurateur Chris Perry, Carve, located at 7415 Southwest Parkway, Bldg. 1, pays homage to the original 1979 butcher shop owned by Perry’s father, Bob Perry. Like Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, it will feature plenty of meaty offerings showcasing live-fire, smoke, and wood grilling techniques when it debuts on December 17.

The menu is helmed by master development chef Rick Moonen, a former James Beard Award nominee and a fixture of food TV shows like The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Top Chef, and Hell’s Kitchen. Comfort will be at the forefront with dishes like meatloaf cupcakes, lobster corn dogs, vegan Salisbury steak, and wood-fired pizzas.

Moonen also riffed on the chain’s famous seven-finger-high pork chop to bring Carve an array of signature pork dishes. Guests can pig out on an 18-ounce long bone chicken-fried pork chop, the Hog Heaven (bacon-wrapped pork belly), and an open-faced pork tamal.

The weekend brunch menu is equally accessible. Savory dishes like a hashbrown breakfast pizza, chicken and waffles, and a steak and eggs po’ boy will be served alongside sweet treats like dessert griddle cakes.

Beverage director and corporate sommelier Susi Zivanovic created a bar program with sustainability in mind. Carve will feature an innovative tap wine system using reusable kegs and will pour four sizes, ranging from a tasting to a full carafe.

Additionally, the bar will offer craft beer and a variety of original cocktails. The restaurant's fiery theme will be echoed in drinks like a mezcal margarita and a Smoky Wild Fashioned, while Carve’s Signature Sorbet Sundae Sour playfully reinvents the whiskey sour with mulled wine and Cabernet Sauvignon sorbet. All can be enjoyed during the restaurant’s daily 3-6:30 pm “happiest hour.”

Though both are contemporary, the interior design of Carve is homier than its downtown cousin, Perry’s, with tufted banquettes, wood accents, and concrete planters on the tables in the main dining room. Carve also boasts three private dining rooms and an outdoor patio with breathtaking Hill Country views.

In a nod to the chain’s roots, The Butcher Room will greet customers at the door. The prepared cuts showcased can be enjoyed while guests are dining in or taken home to be thrown on the grill.

Following the December 17 opening date, Carve will be open from 3-10 pm Monday through Saturday and 3-9 Sunday, with extended bar hours until 10 pm Monday through Thursday and 11 pm Friday and Saturday. Lunch service from 11 am-3 pm weekdays will kick off January 2, followed by weekend brunch from 11 am-3 pm on January 4.


MAKE IT QUICK — AND EASY

The fast-casual trend continues to transform the dining landscape with infinitely adaptable dishes that suit everyone from ravenous chowhound to discriminating expert.

A super greens bowl with spicy lamb meatballs, hummus, tzatziki, harissa, tomato, onion, cabbage slaw, crumbled feta, and greek vinaigrette at Cava on Boylston Street. Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

Bowl-and-salad chains are as ubiquitous as frozen yogurt was in the 1990s. Happily, the Back Bay branch of Cava stands out from the pack with bold Mediterranean flavors and lightning-fast service. Fall into line and point to your favorite ingredients: aromatic saffron rice, jalapeno-infused feta mousse (good enough to eat like ice cream), colorful roasted vegetables, and glistening meats (braised lamb, juicy and rich, is a must). Finish your masterpiece with dressings that are anything but afterthoughts — sriracha Greek yogurt and green harissa will elevate your lunchtime routine from gray to Technicolor.

669 Boylston Street, Boston, 617-286-8927, cava.com

The Loaded Fries and Knockout Sandwich at Fuku. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Fuku caused a stir when it arrived in the Seaport, bringing name recognition (it’s a creation of Momofuku super-restaurateur David Chang) and New York City cred. Fried chicken made with dark meat is the specialty, along with cheese fries and slushies. It’s an efficient place to get your junk food fix, with lots of dopamine hits along the to-go line: caloric toppings (ranch, bacon), unusual add-ons (fried squash rings, spicy wet glaze), and speedy service. In a neighborhood with virtuous fast-casual options aplenty, Fuku remains unabashedly naughty.

43 Northern Avenue, Boston, 617-221-5102, eatfuku.com

Chef garde manger Marcos Lemus adds the final details to a bowl at Spyce in Boston. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Gl

Well, it’s the end times. Robots make our food now, but at least that food tastes good. A group of MIT graduates created Spyce, in Downtown Crossing, which features dishes prepped and garnished by humans but otherwise prepared by a robotic kitchen. This results in all kinds of efficiency: meals completed in three minutes or less, a kitchen that runs on nothing more than electricity and water, a reduction of labor that leads to a reduction in price. Happily, human chefs Daniel Boulud and Sam Benson are on the creative end of things. The result: satisfying meals like the Latin bowl, with chicken, black beans, cabbage slaw, corn, radish, and avocado crema over brown rice, and the vegetarian Lebanese bowl, which contains lentils, feta, kale, tahini, and more.

241 Washington Street, Boston, no phone, spyce.com

The Zaaki Food Truck in front of the Boston Public Library. KEITH BEDFORD/GLOBE STAFF

Many Egyptians think of koshari (pronounced KO-shar-ee) as their national dish. It’s a study in carbs, beginning with rice and lentils topped with tomato sauce and garnished with crispy onions, chickpeas, and macaroni. In London, restaurants specialize in it. In Boston, it’s the centerpiece of Zaaki (Arabic for “delicious”) Food Truck, owned by Samar Abdalelah, born in Saudi Arabia and a graduate of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. The truck sells koshari plain or with toppings, such as chicken shawarma or the Middle Eastern salad fattoush. Even with all those grains in one bowl, Abdalelah manages to keep her version light and flavorful. Her truck is at Harvard Science Center Plaza for lunch Tuesdays and dinner Wednesdays the schedule will expand come spring.


51 restaurants in Boston and the suburbs that still have room for Valentine&rsquos Day

SRV, a new South End restaurant, still has spots open for Valentine’s Day.

If you’re a human being with a job and a life and a penchant for letting things slip, don’t beat yourself up for forgetting to make a Valentine’s Day reservation until now. Here are a bunch of restaurants that still have availability for Sunday—and most of them are also still taking reservations for Saturday, too, if that’s when you’re celebrating. We’ve included options in the the suburbs, Cambridge/Somerville, and Boston proper.

Note: All of these restaurants had open reservations within two hours of 7:30 p.m. on OpenTable at the time of this post’s publication.

Chef Jason Santos’s Theater District spot is in a convenient location for a pre- or post-show dinner.

Another Santos joint, Back Bay Harry’s, is known for its cocktails and large portions. Hungry lovers, head here.

Pretend you’re in New York City and head to Daniel Boulud’s Boston outpost of his famed NYC restaurant for some French-inspired cuisine and an extensive wine list.

If you live on the Hill—or just love those cobblestone streets—stroll on over to the Bistro for French-American cuisine.

This classic spot offers all the traditional French dishes. They also serve mustard carrots and French bread before the meal, so you’ll start off on the right foot.


The 15 Best Places for Southern Food in Savannah

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/> Kristina Yavorski: Fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, cocktails, and excellent service!

/> Kyle Smith: Great southern food! Best shrimp and grits ever!

/> Daniel Fernandez: Stuffed grouper, fried lobster tails, fried green tomato, mushroom appetizer

/> heather dougherty: Beignets, Bloody Mary, Shrimp & Grits and Crab Cake Benedict. Leave happy! Can get your drink in a to-go cup to sit outside while you wait.

/> Hande Aksoy: Grits delicious, shrimps fantastic, beignet unbelievable. Decently price, great service. We definitely come again!!

/> Twinkle Denoyo: We had the crab cake benedict with a side of parmesan garlic grits. The crab cake was absolutely scrumptious and was topped with delicious fried green tomato and the eggs benedict.

/> Jackie Faber: So much better than the Lady and Sons this place is a must stop for anyone visiting Savannah. They only take cash but it is cheap and good. Best fried chicken ever.

/> Mina B.: Best southern food ever worth the wait

/> Norris Heintzelman: Fried chicken, BBQ pork, biscuits, squash and all the rest, all so, so good.

/> Kevin E: We were here for a wedding which was. Set very well! I had the southern Mac and cheese which was amazing! We will be back!

/> Tracy Lowe: Fried green tomatoes a must! Food a little slow on delivery so don't be in a hurry. The tybee island tea is delicious as is the mojito.

/> Dawn Ratner: Great food! best shrimp and grits in Savannah! Beautiful view if you reqest the tables on the river. Attend a 20th anniversery party there and it was beautiful.

/> Cesarina Castellanos: Best southern meal one can ask for. Great friend chicken and collard greens

/> Alex Carrasquillo: Fried chicken, mac & cheese. Peach cobbler for dessert. Really good, authentic southern cooking.

/> Amanda Anderson: I had the fried chicken, mac n cheese, greens and Lima beans and it was all very good. The cornbread was delicious. My boyfriend also enjoyed his Hamburg steak, Mac n cheese, white rice and potatoes.

/> Kat: We loved it. Shrimp and grits are delicious. Also the pork chops were thick and juicy. .loved the wine marinated spinach! Everything was awesome! Definitely coming back! !

/> Stan Johnson: Had the lunch buffet. Hands down, the best southern buffet I've had. The mash potatoes, mac n cheese, collards, chicken, greens, biscuits. all AMAZING.

/> Stephanie Varner: Great honey butter biscuits! I had the fried pork chop sandwich and it was delicious. Our server was very friendly and provided great service. Fun environment, great food!


The spots

Myers + Chang

Myers + Chang on Washington is an Asian fusion spot with a large menu that gives you whatever flavor you’re looking for. It’s a small, cool, cocktail party of a restaurant that’s open for dim sum brunch on the weekends (get the Nirvana Chicken Congee), and both lunch and dinner every other day of the week. That’s a good thing for you, and a bad thing for your loved ones, who are going to miss you after you decide to spend most of your waking hours here.

There are 43 dishes on the menu at this Washington Street tapas restaurant that almost always has a wait (they only take reservations for the tasting menu). If you bring one friend and average six dishes per meal (starting with the white anchovies if you know what’s good for you), you’ll be able to eat everything in this place in one week. At that point, feel free to start all over again, because Toro really is that good.

Kava Neo-Taverna

If you don’t have a seaside villa on a Greek island, come to Kava Neo-Taverna and pretend you do as you sip a glass of white wine and eat phyllo-wrapped feta. If you do have one, come here anyway, because we imagine that seaside villas on Greek islands aren’t the kinds of things you get sick of. More often than not you have to wait, but it’s worth it for perfectly cooked octopus and (during good weather) shaded sidewalk tables.

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Coppa

You could come to this tiny, corner enoteca on Shawmut just for the excellent pizza (we love the one with the smoked bone marrow), but then you’d be a boring, one-dimensional person. Instead come here for the pizza, and the great small plates and charcuterie. That way, you’ll be a complex person with a variety of interests (interests that all seem to revolve around Italian food, but still).

Maná Escondido Café

Are you ever in the mood for a sandwich but not in the mood for bread? Probably not, since bread is essentially the defining characteristic of a sandwich, but just in case you’re kinda weird, go to Mana Escondido on Aguadilla Street. This is a counter-service Puerto Rican restaurant, and the best thing on the menu might be the pernil jibarita, a roast pork sandwich that swaps out the bread for two fried and flattened sweet plantains that is every bit as awesome as it sounds.

Bar Lyon

Certain things are essential in life: reliable wifi, a friend who will tell you if your new haircut really isn’t working, and a little corner French restaurant that you return to often enough to have a favorite dish and go-to glass of red. If you don’t have one yet, make it Bar Lyon. What you’ll find here is a manageably small menu with one outstanding dish after another (including the best burger in Boston,) and a comfortable little bistro atmosphere that will make you wish you were an expat living in post-war Paris.

Bar Mezzana

You can come to Bar Mezzana, an Italian restaurant in the Ink Block, when you’re in the mood for a great crudo, or some interesting pasta, or if you’re in the mood to eat dandelions for some reason. Or, you can come here when you want a little bit of everything, and opt for a great prix-fixe menu that nets you five courses, most of which have multiple dishes of their own. There’s a crudo course with at least three different kinds of fish, a pasta course with two different pastas, and protein, a dessert, and another small plate on top of that. That’s a lot of different tastes for $52.

Once you’ve been to Coppa and Bar Mezzana, come to SRV - a spot on Columbus that focuses on pasta and has great small plates - and decide once and for all which place deserves the title of best Italian restaurant in the South End. Although come to think of it, maybe deciding once-and-for-this-week is a better option, that way you can re-evaluate and do it again a few days later.

No Relation

High-end sushi is great for impressing people. And hidden restaurants are also great for impressing people. So No Relation, a nine-seat sushi counter hidden behind the bathrooms of a tiki bar, is basically the restaurant equivalent of the Tenenbaum children. This is an omakase-only place where you’ll get 15 courses for around $100. That’s not cheap, but it’s about as cool a restaurant experience as you’ll find in Boston, and the high-quality pieces like cured sea bream topped with mango and chili are worth it.

Ilona

Ilona is the type of trendy place that makes you feel like you should get a haircut before eating there. But it’s more than just a restaurant that looks good, it’s a legitimately excellent place for rich, warming Eastern Mediterranean small plates, and a great option for celebrating something with friends (though not too many because it’s not particularly big). The menu shares some similarities with Ilona’s nearby sister restaurant, Kava Neo-Taverna, but Kava is on our Greatest Hits for good reason, so that’s not a bad thing - especially when some of those similarities include perfectly cooked octopus and fried vegetable chips.

Orinoco Kitchen

If you don’t already have a daytime margarita spot, consider Orinoco, an inviting Latin restaurant on a quiet corner of Shawmut Ave. It’s also a great option if you’ve been looking for a great cuban sandwich, an impressive but affordable date night spot, or a place to browse for Venezuelan dry goods that are prominently displayed on the wall but probably aren’t for sale.

Banyan Bar & Refuge

If you’ve been looking for an LED tree in your life, head to Banyan on Tremont Street. It’s got one in its lounge, so you can sit under shining blue branches as you split a scorpion bowl (a tiki drink that isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds). For dinner, we recommend the scotch egg, which comes wrapped in a fried sausage, and the dragon noodles, which aren’t quite as spicy as the warning on the menu indicates, but which are delightful nonetheless. If you’re here in the summer, grab one of the sidewalk tables under a thick canopy of branches strung with lanterns, and remind yourself that, oh yeah, real trees are pretty cool, too.

B&G Oysters

The menu at B&G on Tremont isn’t big, but that just means that everything from the whole branzino to the Ipswich clams is fresh out of the water. This is a great spot for relaxed midweek seafood dinner, and during the summer, you really should be sitting on B&G’s back patio with a glass of wine and the fried oysters every single night. We’ll give you a pass if you missed a few evenings because of things like “family commitments” or “your wedding” but try and do better next time.

Oishii Boston

The modifier “cute little” could be added to just about every spot in the South End - cute little French spot, cute little coffee shop, cute little $1.4 million gut-renovated basement condo with leathered granite countertops, etc. It doesn’t work for Oishii, though. This multi-level sushi place with blue accent lighting and rock sculptures looks like the type of sushi restaurant Charlie Sheen’s character in Wall Street would’ve enjoyed, and the menu fits the theme, too. You’ll find lots of fancy ingredients like caviar and truffle that make this place too pricey to be an everyday option, but keep it in mind when you’re celebrating and want to splurge on hamachi served under a smoke-filled glass bowl.

Every Monday, Mida has one of our favorite restaurant specials in the city: a $35 all-you-can-eat pasta deal, which frequently features a menu put together by guest chefs from excellent places like Uni and Mamaleh’s. But it’s still worth coming here the rest of the week, too. Their lobster scampi is the rare lobster pasta dish that’s not so loaded with creme that it’s impossible to finish, and the gelato is outstanding. If you can’t get into Ilona across the street or SRV around the corner, Mida will still salvage your night.

Barcelona Wine Bar

When you’re looking for tapas in the South End, everyone - including us, your friends, your mom, and your mom’s boyfriend Ken who calls you “sport” and still asks what you’re majoring in even though you’re 27 years old - is going to send you to Toro. And Toro is phenomenal. But when you can’t get a table (because Ken sends everyone there) make Barcelona your more than acceptable Plan B. The menu here is fairly standard tapas, and while nothing is so outstanding that you’ll consider writing love notes to it the next day, it’s all good to very good. The space is lively but dark and intimate, making it great for dates. And if you don’t know where to start (besides with wine, because it has a great old world list), go with the chorizo and figs.

The Butcher Shop

As you probably guessed based on the name, the Butcher Shop specializes in big cuts of marbled meat. But it’s really best used as a wine bar instead of a steakhouse. As good as the meat is, the best things on the menu come from the small plate sections (you pretty much have to start with a charcuterie board). And it’s a small, dark spot that feels more like a date night restaurant than a place where business travelers drink martinis and close deals to buy struggling media companies.


Opened in September 2020

Akoko

In a nutshell: West African flavours with British ingredients
Where is it?
21 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 3LP
Why should you care?
Akoko is the first project from last year’s Masterchef: The Professionals finalist William JM Chilila. He's opened this West-African influenced restaurant in Fitzrovia.

In a nutshell: Taka takes over Providores.
Where is it?
Taka, 109 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 4RX
Why should you care?
This is a replacement for popular Marylebone restaurant The Providores. Japanese restaurant Taka has opened its second site there, with an expanded menu from the original.

Bosporos

In a nutshell: Dubai import by way of Turkey
Where is it?
Queens House, 7-9 Leicester Square, West End, London WC2H 7NA
Why should you care?
London gets the first UK outpost of this popular Dubai chain which promises an authentic Turkish experience.

Big Jo

In a nutshell: Bakery from Jolene
Where is it?
318-326, Hornsey Road, London, N7 7HE
Why should you care?
There's a shop, a 60 cover restaurant open all day "serving all manner of baked goods" at this follow up to Jolene. Add to that a selection of excellent pizza slices and this is another winner from them.

Pantechnicon

In a nutshell: Five storeys of Japanese and Nordic dining and shopping in Belgravia
Where is it?
19 Motcomb Street, London, SW1X 8LB
Why should you care?
London's first huge new opening post lockdown is in the heart of Belgravia. Pantechnicon offers five floors of dining and shopping on Motcomb Street, devoted to all things Nordic and Japanese.

Smoke + Salt

In a nutshell: Popular nomadic supperclub finds a permanent spot in Tooting
Where is it?
115 Tooting High Street, London, SW17 0SY
Why should you care?
Their food has been surprising and delighting Londoners for the past four years, but now roaming residency Smoke & Salt have to set down permanent roots taking on their first restaurant on Tooting High Street.

Noble Rot Soho

In a nutshell: Noble Rot takes over the Gay Hussar
Where is it?
2 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4NB
Why should you care?
A truly iconic Soho restaurant is revived by the team behind Noble Rot who are promising to be custodians of its history but bring the menu fully into the 21st century.

Murger Han

In a nutshell: Xi’an in the City
Where is it?
9 Philpot Lane, London EC3M 8AA
Why should you care?
This is the third Murger Han and as in its other incarnations, they'll have a menu of Xi’an dishes made to family recipes with the Biang Biang noodles and the murgers themselves (slow-cooked meat in flatbread) being the biggest draw.

Maison Francois

In a nutshell: French brasserie in St James
Where is it?
36 Duke Street, St James's, St. James's, London SW1Y 6DF
Why should you care?
Taking the former address of Greens, Maison Francois is a brasserie and wine bar, featuring a finalist of Masterchef: The Professionals as chef. Expect Gallic/European cuisine and excellent terrines.

Bermondsey Larder

In a nutshell: A new Dairy rises from the ashes.
Where is it?
153-157 Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 3LW
Why should you care?
The replacement for The Dairy, less than a month after they closed in Clapham. They may have a new name forced on them, but it's still the excellent Dairy at heart.

The Black Book

In a nutshell: A new wine bar for Soho
Where is it?
23 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4RR
Why should you care?
It used to be known as TRADE, the members' bar for people in the hospitality business, but now it's been replaced by The Black Book, a new wine bar that's open to all of Soho, from Gearoid Devaney and Xavier Rousset.

Louie

In a nutshell: A US chef and a Parisian restaurateur are hoping to make London their new home
Where is it?
13-15 West St, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9NE
Why should you care?
New Orleans chef Slade Rushing has moved to London to open Louie in the old L'atelier de Joel Robuchon site in Covent Garden, joining forces with Parisian powerhouse restaurant group Paris Society.

Cha Cha x Sister Jane

In a nutshell: Latin American restaurant meets vintage clothing store
Where is it?
36 Golborne Road, London W10 5PR
Why should you care?
Latin American bar and restaurant Cha Cha, which has outlets in Maida Vale and Mayfair is now bringing its concept to Notting Hill, but with a twist. They’ve paired up with vintage clothing store Sister Jane to entice diners to a multi-level, multi-experiential retail concept on the corner of Golborne Road. Apart from the shopping and ground-floor dining, there’s also a rooftop cocktail bar as well as a secret garden.

Beam Notting Hill

In a nutshell: Med cafe comes to Notting Hill
Where is it?
103 Westbourne Grove, London W2 4UW
Why should you care?
They've already opened successful cafes in Crouch End and Highbury and next up for Beam is a move west to Notting Hill.

Chishuru

In a nutshell: West African in Brixton
Where is it?
Unit 9, Market Row, Brixton, London SW9 8LB
Why should you care?
After winning the Brixton Kitchen competition in 2019, Adejoké ‘Joké’ Bakare's supperclub Chishuru has become a restaurant in Brixton Village. Expect West African cuisine from a mix of African and British produce.

Rondo

In a nutshell: The Hoxton Holborn gets an overhaul
Where is it?
199-206 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 7BD
Why should you care?
Rondo is the new restaurant at the Hoxton Holborn, a collaboration between Will Lander (Quality Chip House, Portland) and Chris Gillard (EartH Kitchen, St John). Expect a seasonal menu and a lot of attention to the wine list.

Club Mexicana

In a nutshell: Vegan Mexican food
Where is it?
Kingly Court, Kingly St, Soho, London W1B 5PW
Why should you care?
After pop-ups and residencies across London, Club Mexicana have brought their vegan Mexican food to Kingly Court. And margaritas too, of course.

Giannino Dal 1899

In a nutshell: Longstanding Milan restaurant opens its first European outpost in London
Where is it?
10 Blenheim St, Mayfair, London W1S 1LJ
Why should you care?
Will Giannino Dal 1899 be the restaurant to succeed at this spot in Mayfair? They're hoping that the long lineage of the Milanese original will entice Londoners to try it.

Nebula Pizza

In a nutshell: Beer + pizza
Where is it?
455 Hackney Road, London E2 9DY
Why should you care?
This new pizza, beer and cocktail joint has taken over the space on Hackney Road where ABQ used to be. It's a large site - with room for 200 pizza lovers. And the fact that it also has a large courtyard won't hurt it at all in the current times.


For those who might be seeking a side of nostalgia with that steak, head to Sperry’s Restaurant in Belle Meade. They’ve been serving up steaks, prime rib, and bacon-wrapped, blue cheese-stuffed filets for 45 years and counting. People flock for the salad bar (shout out: green goddess dressing) and the classic bananas foster — prepared table-side, of course.

A landmark in West End, the storied steakhouse has served cocktails, corn cakes, and crowd-favorite blue cheese-stuffed filets since 1934. Many of the staff been there for decades too — so you’re in good hands when placing a steak order here.


Watch the video: Boston Neighborhoods II South End (July 2022).


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