When John Sergi approached celebrity chef Barbara Lynch about consulting on a new menu for the New England Aquarium’s seasonal outdoor cafe, the Reef, her response was unpromising: “I said, ‘No way, no way, no way,’ ” says Lynch, who owns No. 9 Park, Menton, and other establishments. But Sergi, chief design officer of Centerplate, the firm that provides food service for the Aquarium, persisted, and eventually Lynch was won over. It’s her first consulting gig, and it came with a raft of challenges: an outdoor location, limited kitchen facilities, and a wide-ranging customer base that includes tourists, families, commuters, and the after-work crowd. The resulting menu offers a few sustainable seafood choices, such as clam chowder and lobster rolls, and a number of modest nibbles: lamb or chicken skewers, a Vermont cheese plate, tomatoes with local mozzarella (later in the season, the tomatoes will be local as well). “We brought some great wines,” says Lynch, and the well-loved Palmyra cocktail has been imported from No. 9 Park. “It’s not upscale,” she says, noting that “everything is served out of plastic cups.” Sounds just about right for a balmy summer evening near the waterfront.
The Reef at the New England Aquarium, Central Wharf, Boston, open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Labor Day.