Where to Fairsted Kitchen, the latest addition to the burgeoning restaurant scene in Brookline’s Washington Square.
What for Creative food and drink in a space that falls halfway between modern restaurant and Victorian dining room. Fairsted Kitchen was inspired by and named for landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s nearby estate, Fairsted.
The scene Entering the small, amber-lit restaurant, one first encounters the intimate, L-shaped zinc bar, manned by “master of ceremonies” Patrick Gaggiano, formerly of Trina’s Starlite Lounge and Bondir. A middle-aged couple, two tipsy friends, and some chef types sit shoulder to shoulder. In common they have a love of white beans; each party is sharing a serving, stirred together with jet black squid ink. Ebony and ivory. . . . People eat off flowered plates and wipe their mouths with dishtowel napkins, white with a red stripe. The dining room is lined with gray wood benches and hung with schoolhouse pendants, the white-trimmed walls decorated in rich tones: topaz, peacock, caramel. Candles flicker on a mantelpiece, and there is a communal table made from a repurposed church door.
What you’re eating Charcuterie meets Southeast Asia with the pig’s head lettuce wrap. The tender meat is breaded and fried into a crisp puck, then wrapped in a leaf with carrot, daikon, and cilantro. Hot and cool, savory and spicy, the little package offers plenty of contrast and punch for $5. Chef W. Scott Osif, previously of Nantucket’s Galley Beach, divides his menu among snacks and sides (cod beignets with smoked tomato confit), small plates (cumin-dusted lamb ribs with spicy vinegar fish sauce), large plates (smoked duck with potato pancake and red cabbage), and platters for the table (braised oxtail with turnips, carrots, and arancini).
Care for a drink? In addition to the usual shaken-on-the-spot variety, Fairsted Kitchen’s cocktails include one on draft and one that’s been bottled. On a recent night, the latter is the Johnny Appleseed — apple cider, rum, Amaro Meletti, lemon, cinnamon syrup, and whiskey barrel-aged bitters. It tastes like fizzy, boozy mulled cider.
Overheard People discussing love, friendship, and robots. “He likes that he reminds him of a TV character, but it’s a weird reason to be friends with someone.” “Usually she talks about people she has a hard time working with, ex-boyfriends, or people she slept with.” Admiration is expressed, for the neighborhood and the food: “It’s turning into a great square.” “The white beans are amazing.” “Who made you good, celery? Come on!” Two women are getting emotional, embracing over Hoponius Unions and carbs. “I love you!” “I love you, too! Can we have more bread?” A bartender recounts the staff meal recently prepared for them by nearby restaurant Ribelle: “They cooked us meatball hoagies and pizza. I threw it in my face. I blacked out, I was on the floor.” “I feel like I should begin every sentence with ‘duck fat-fried’ and life would be so much better,” a server says. One can only agree.
1704 Beacon St. (Washington Square), Brookline, 617-396-8752, www.fairstedkitchen.com.
Devra First can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.