Hard-to-find Branch Line is easy to enjoy
Where to Branch Line, new from Garrett Harker (Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Row 34) and Andrew Holden (general manager at Eastern Standard).
What for Rotisserie chicken, marinated lamb skewers, and bocce at Watertown’s Arsenal on the Charles complex.
The scene An aromatic oasis in a corporate maze. Warning: Your GPS will fail you and your eyesight might, too. This grid of identical red-brick buildings is tough to navigate, particularly at dusk. Press on, though, until you hear strains of laughter. Branch Line rises up like a Patagonia-clad Phoenix. Within, Athena employees and gregarious locals sip wine at the bar; fleece-wrapped lady friends catch up on the heated dining terrace; and a happy child rolls a ball on the adjacent bocce court. The only troubled party is the hostess, charged with telling eager guests about the 45-minute wait. A few ravenous souls dine al fresco instead.
What you’re eating Chicken! Green Circle Rotisserie Chicken occupies prime menu space, encircled like the credits for an old-time movie. Opt for a half-bird ($17) or whole ($32). Marinated lamb skewers ($14) and steamed clams heaped with sausage (5 for $13) are shareable starters. A few simple entrees like grilled branzino ($24) and a tower of rotisserie cauliflower tangled with charred chard ($16) round out the menu. Chef de cuisine Stephen Oxaal comes from Boston’s B&G Oysters. (Pictured: baked oysters.) Food trivia: The “G” in B&G stands for Garrett; Harker was once a partner in the restaurant with Barbara Lynch.
Care for a drink? There’s a thoughtful roster of Mediterranean wines and rare beers. Drafts — there are 20 — can be ordered by the half-pour.
Overheard A slithery version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band. (The soundtrack is straight out of your favorite 1980s action movie.) Commentary on lovers’ tangos and naughty appetizers. “Dude, but she chased me down!” huffs a lumberjack-chic man at the three-deep bar, apparently stiffed. “With a wait, we can have the longest happy hour ever!” a blonde with a corporate badge tells a girlfriend. “Excuse me,” queries a muscular man in a “Red Cross Saves Lives” T-shirt, barging toward the hostess stand. “Is it warm enough for us to park it outside?” A waitress with spiky hair rhapsodizes about a fried cheese appetizer. “Look. It’s like a mozzarella stick. But basically it’s the best mozzarella stick you’ve ever had!” 321 Arsenal St., Watertown,