Where to: Little Whale Oyster Bar, a seafood restaurant in the Back Bay space that was formerly French bistro Grand Tour.
Why: Seafood might be chef Michael Serpa’s best event, as he’s shown at restaurants such as Select Oyster Bar and Atlántico. At Little Whale, he takes a (slightly) more traditional New England approach.
The backstory: Serpa, an avid cyclist, also operated Grand Tour. The bistro opened in January 2020, not the most auspicious timing. With Little Whale, the subterranean Newbury Street space gets a fresh start. Serpa’s other seafood spots are influenced mainly by Spain, Portugal, and the Mediterranean. Little Whale is his first that looks closer to home.
What to eat: Clam chowder. Craggy, golden fried Ipswich clams with tartar sauce. A towering sandwich of beer-battered hake on brioche with slaw. A Maine lobster roll, cold or warm. The New England favorites are here. But so are grand plateaux of oysters, shrimp, and dressed lobster. So are Serpa’s signature crudo dishes, such as thick slices of hamachi with golden watermelon, feta vinaigrette, and mint. There’s a touch of red sauce, in dishes like lobster spaghetti and sauteed clams with spicy ragu. And fish is very well treated, from Gloucester swordfish with potatoes, fennel, and mustard beurre blanc to Maine halibut in green curry broth. Add in colorful salads and a few leftovers from the Grand Tour days (steak frites, a caviar omelet), and there’s something to please most everyone.
What to drink: Champagne with your seafood tower, Oxbow Brewing Company’s Surfcasting grisette with salt and lime with your fried clams, and vinho verde or Chablis with whatever comes next — unless you’re in the mood for red, in which case try the cheeky On S’en Fish!, served chilled.
The takeaway: Turning this space into Little Whale appears to have been a good move, given how cheek-to-cheek it is on a recent visit. (COVID-era comfort levels may vary; there’s also a patio.) Diners can’t resist the siren song of (slightly) traditional New England seafood.
314 Newbury St., Back Bay, Boston, 857-277-0800, www.littlewhaleboston.com
Devra First can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.