Kristin Canty on avocado toast, her great commute, and why she keeps soy out of her restaurants

Owner Kristin Canty at the new Woods Hill Pier 4 restaurant in the Seaport.  In the background is a custom collage by Betsy Silverman.
Owner Kristin Canty at the new Woods Hill Pier 4 restaurant in the Seaport. In the background is a custom collage by Betsy Silverman.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

Kristin Canty, 54, just opened Woods Hill Pier 4 in the old Anthony’s Pier 4 space. Times have changed in the Seaport: Canty, who also runs Concord’s Adelita and Woods Hill Table, specializes in organic, non-GMO food using ingredients from her Farm at Woods Hill in New Hampshire and other local purveyors. All meat comes from animals that were fed an organic, grass-based diet. She’s known for her 2011 documentary film “Farmageddon," about government oversight of food production and farming.

Long before she became a small-farm advocate, though, she was supposed to celebrate her 10th birthday at Anthony’s — but her parents were sick and couldn’t take her.


“I never got to go. It’s a joke in our house. I didn’t get to go, and now I bought it,” she says.

The Woods Hill Pier 4 restaurant in the Seaport.
The Woods Hill Pier 4 restaurant in the Seaport.Globe staff

What’s the first restaurant that you ever visited in Boston?

We didn’t go out to eat when I was little. It would have had to be when I was in college, honestly. At Boston College, I worked at the Golden Lantern. It’s not there anymore. It was a high-end restaurant on campus, and I catered all of their events. It was great.

What’s one thing you’d like to fix about the restaurant industry here?

I would like all restaurants to get as much from area farms as possible and serve as much grass-fed meat as possible.

What other restaurants do you visit?

I go to Row 34 and Island Creek on a regular basis, Lola 42, and ReelHouse. Anywhere that has oysters.

What’s your earliest food memory that made you think, ‘I want to work in restaurants?’

I loved working at restaurants in high school and college. I never thought this was going to be my career; I was more of a farm advocate. I loved the service, the hospitality, and making people happy. I worked at the Landfall in Woods Hole. It’s still a thing. I worked at a place called The Irish Embassy on Cape Cod for Tommy McGann; I managed the bar there. He had started a whole Irish food thing — which sounds like it’s not a thing, but he made homemade sausages that everyone loved. And then I worked at a bunch of places that aren’t around anymore. I worked at Howard Johnson [in Concord] and a place on Nantucket called the Blueberry Muffin.


What’s the worst restaurant experience you’ve ever had?

That’s a hard one! I don’t know that I’ve ever had a horrible restaurant experience. . . . It hasn’t happened to me because I go out to restaurants on Monday nights; it’s my only day off. It’s hard when you walk in on a Saturday night, and it takes a while to get a seat and service because they’re so busy.

How could the Boston food scene improve? It could improve by having more food variety. I’d love to see more ethnic restaurants pop up. My friend Justin Kang, who works for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, is starting a movement and a bunch of pop-ups where he’s trying different ethnic concepts. I just went to his fund-raiser at the TriMark Innovation Center; someone was serving homemade bread, someone was cooking Iranian food. They were talking about how they grew up eating and want to share it with Boston. I’d love to see them take off.


How has the restaurant scene changed since you first arrived in Boston? The Seaport has gone crazy. There used to be nothing there, and now it’s like Times Square. I’m so happy to see there are more female-owned restaurants and female-run restaurants.

Name three adjectives for Boston diners. My customers are a little different; a lot of people tell me they can’t eat anywhere else due to specific food allergies or cares. They are caring, thoughtful, and clean eaters.

What’s the most overdone trend right now? That’s a hard one. I don’t want to put down other people, but probably avocado toast. And I’m very guilty of loving it, and I have a Mexican restaurant. There’s a huge shortage of avocados!

What type of restaurant is Boston missing? Iranian, African, Thai! I’d love to see more of an ethnic scene.

What are you reading? I am a huge self-help junkie. I also just finished “Leadership” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. She’s a friend of mine; she’s my neighbor.

How’s your commute? I have the best commute anyone could ever have. I live one flight up from my restaurant! When I do come in from [my house in] Concord, it can take me as much as two-and-a-half hours on a bad day.

What’s the one food you never want to eat again? Anything with soy! It’s contaminated and genetically modified except for organic, fermented soy sauce. I keep it out of my restaurant, and I keep it out of my mouth.


What’s your most missed Boston restaurant? The German restaurant that just went out of business — Jacob Wirth! My husband used to love it, a long time ago.

Who was your most memorable customer? I love all my customers! Let’s see: It’s so hard. It was so fun when “Little Women” was being filmed in Concord; the cast would come in, and they were all regular customers. I have a lot of high school students working for me. Emma Watson came in. Laura Dern. It was really fun for them. And Doris [Kearns Goodwin] is a regular customer who all the other guests love to see and talk politics with. And I have a few customers who sit at the bar every single day in Concord. It’s like “Cheers.” They live next door or across the street. It makes the restaurant really neighborhood-y.

If you had to eat your last meal in Boston, what would it be? My last meal! It’s so expensive, and it’s so delicious: It would be O Ya. I would order everything. I just love the sushi. Everything. You have to order a ton of things because it’s all small plates.

Kara Baskin can be reached at kara.baskin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.