Where to Ester, a new restaurant in Lower Mills, Dorchester, occupying the space that was formerly Ledge Kitchen & Drinks.
What for To see friends or make new ones. Ester opened in early April, but it has already been discovered as a neighborhood hangout.
The scene In a space decorated in shades of pumpkin and beige, people of all ages and backgrounds mingle. A group of stylish black women in black leather jackets flirts with a bartender. A multiracial party of young guys wearing flat-brimmed ball caps occupies a high-top, bros united in pursuit of beer. Women with blond ponytails and knee-high boots sip cocktails. A family departs, two kids in team jerseys and down jackets in tow. A young couple hashes out finances at the bar over drinks; an older couple with matching spiky white haircuts is on a dinner date. The soundtrack is mellow — Jeff Buckley, Van Morrison, Jasmine Thompson. The game is on, and there are cheers and groans at every big play.
What you’re eating The menu is stocked with spiffed-up comfort food: everything from beef tacos and meatloaf burgers to roasted shishito peppers and salmon with harissa chickpeas, fregola, spinach, and spiced yogurt.
Care for a drink? You’ll find wine, beer from PBR to Purple Monkey Dishwasher porter, and house cocktails with names like The Dot and the Ester Tai. Invent-your-own smashes are a refreshing option: The bartender muddles your choice of spirit (vodka, gin, rye, rum, or sake), orange or apple, and mint or basil.
Overheard Talk about cocktails, “Mad Men,” sports, and the neighborhood. “That style of drinking is coming around. It’s classy,” a bartender tells a patron while mixing classic cocktails. “I’m down,” the guy says, sipping his Negroni. “I’m down, too,” says the bartender with a nod. A group of friends gossips: “I don’t have to say sorry,” one woman says. “That response was not happening.” A staffer and a customer chit-chat: “How’s the little man?” “Kicking my butt!” “I’m putting the word out that you’re open,” one man says. “They don’t like certain elements here closer to Milton,” another says with a shake of his head. A group of women gets up to go, bidding the bartender farewell. “Don’t you worry,” he says. “I’ll be here every Thursday.”
2261 Dorchester Ave., Lower Mills, Dorchester. 617-698-2261.