Where to Les Sablons, a Harvard Square restaurant from Jeremy Sewall, Garrett Harker, and Shore Gregory.
What for If you’ve been to the likes of Branch Line, Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, and Row 34, you know this team’s work. The chefs are Sewall (who was until recently also chef-owner of Lineage) and Brian Rae (Rialto, Centre Street Cafe).
The scene Housed in the old Conductor’s Building, with a hard-to-find entrance, Les Sablons shares its name with a Paris Metro station. The old administrative offices, in a narrow, two-story building, have been completely redone. Downstairs: a frisky bar area lined in old brick and white subway tile, sleek black-stemmed light fixtures arching down from the ceiling. Upstairs: more subway tile, woods and neutrals, and slightly confounding artwork made of tiny Play-Doh jars combined with black-and-white photos of David Bowie and Grace Jones (with a bunch of necklaces dripping from her jaw). It’s rush hour on a weeknight, brimming with patrician types, academics, industry friends, and restaurant heat-seekers. One half-expects to see Julia Child hunkering down at a table over some seared white asparagus with anchovy and green garlic. She’d have felt right at home.
What you’re eating The menu is the same upstairs and down. A little crudo is a fine way to ease into things — perhaps coral slices of salmon with mint, cucumber water, and snap peas. Then on to rye spaghetti, toothy strands tangled up with black trumpet mushrooms and pesto, or an English pea soup with gougere and bacon. For your main course, you’ll find the likes of roasted monkfish with bok choy, cockles, and a whisper of green curry, or grilled lamb loin with fava beans, sunchokes, and barley and oat porridge. Desserts include lemon posset and chocolate cremeux. Everywhere, spring is on the menu.
Care for a drink? Superstar bartender Jackson Cannon developed the drinks list, which includes the elegant Bijou (gin, Green Chartreuse, vermouth) and the namesake Les Sablons (vodka, Benedictine, sherry, and lemon). The wine list leans French; beer goes global.
Overheard Renovation explanation, goat-butter encomiums, style counsel. “You’d look good with a shaved head,” a woman tells her friend confidently. “I’m learning Greek,” a man announces with glee. “This tastes more Japanese than Southeast Asian,” a woman opines, tucking into her fish. “We ran out of bread, which never happened before,” a server tells a dejected-looking twosome. “But we just found more!” They brighten. “It’s really just a vehicle for the goat butter anyway,” she confides sotto voce. A hangry crew shows up for a late dinner. “We are going to feed you,” the hostess assures them with a smile.