Where to Stephi’s in Southie, the latest venture from Stephanie Sokolove of Stephanie’s on Newbury and Stephi’s on Tremont.
What for A taste of the new Southie. Sokolove has conquered Back Bay and the South End with her restaurants, known for prime people-watching, good patio scenes, and brunch. This outpost is further confirmation of South Boston’s trendiness. Stephi’s opens as longtime local the Quencher Tavern prepares to close. It’s as good a summation as any of the changes that have come to the neighborhood.
The scene The restaurant is a long space that just keeps on going, with lots of little booths and tables and two bar areas. The decor is clean yet sexy, with red ikat upholstery, modern Morocco-inspired lamps, twinkly white tiles, and a gas fireplace. The ladies room is wallpapered in Marimekko flowers. The space is loud, the music muffled, the seats filled with stylish, fit, fashionable 30-somethings. Navy-and-white stripes are a wardrobe theme. There are several solo diners at the bar, along with a guy perusing spreadsheets. Post-yoga women still sport a radiant sheen as they sip olive-laden martinis.
What you’re eating Executive chef Corey Comeau (you may know him from Food Network’s “Chopped”) puts plenty of classic comfort food on his menu, some of which may look familiar from other Sokolove joints. Cozy offerings such as warm naan with a trio of spreads, meatballs in tomato sauce, roast chicken, and a burger may tempt on crisp autumn nights, and the tuna tartare is always popular. But a good salad is hard to come by, and Stephi’s offers a selection. Try one that comes with edamame, red onion, sprouts, and plump grilled shrimp in an orange-chili glaze.
Care for a drink? Chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon are on tap, there’s Shipyard pumpkin ale and a selection of winter warmers (pumpkin toddy!), but fans of the show “The Wire” will find it hard to resist ordering a cocktail called Omar’s Coming. It’s got Aperol, St. Germain, and lemon juice with a champagne float — but mostly it contains made-in-Southie Wire Works gin. Plenty of it. Omar is here.
Overheard People talking about whom they are dating, what they are eating, Red Sox tickets, new accounts, law school, roommates, and maiden names. A diner is trying to decide whether to order a steak salad. “Do you like blue cheese? Men love blue cheese,” says a bartender. A few seats over, a man debates a burger. “How much hungrier are you?” a server asks. “How much fatter do I want to get?” he replies. “Don’t worry about it, man. If you think about that here. . .” A group of women are talking about a mutual acquaintance: “He’s 40. I have no idea how he has all these connections. He’s so mature.” A friend gives a forlorn dining companion a pep talk: “You have to stand up for yourself!” People from the neighborhood run into each other. “I touched you in the T the other day,” one says to the other, laughing. “Oh my god,” she replies. “I’m in my own world!” Somewhere people are singing “Happy Birthday.”
130 Dorchester Ave., South Boston. 617-345-5495. www.stephisinsouthie.com.Devra First can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.