Food & dining

Quick Bite

An early look at Cultivar, chef Mary Dumont’s downtown restaurant

The outdoor seating area at Cultivar.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
The outdoor seating area at Cultivar.

Where to Cultivar, the new restaurant from chef Mary Dumont (Harvest) in the Ames Hotel.

What for An oasis right downtown. Dumont’s cooking puts the season on your plate, ingredients grow in the on-site hydroponic garden, and there’s a patio.

The scene Inside, all is tranquillity: the theme botanical (branchlike chandeliers, dangling spheres of moss, a Japanese maple in the window), the air pleasantly AC cool, the clientele suited up for business. Outside on the patio, the sun shines, the frocks are sleeveless, and the atmosphere is festive. Ladies lunch elegantly while steps away sweaty tourists pose with selfie sticks and try on Boston T-shirts.


What you’re eating By day, swanky appetizers and sandwiches: crudo, crab cakes, a bluefish Caesar on herb focaccia. By night, seafood platters, “yakitori beets” (a Dumont-ed beet salad), nettle bucatini with lamb neck sugo or squid ink pasta with seafood, striped bass with gnocchi and seasonal vegetables or a whole roast chicken for two. For dessert, would you like the cherry wood-smoked brownie or the mango bavarois with matcha meringue and black sesame ice cream?

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Care for a drink? Gin. Every cocktail is made with gin. (Don’t like gin? You can substitute another spirit. But the folks at the bar really like gin.) The Bancroft’s Castle also incorporates Douglas fir brandy, mint, and lime, while the Seven Seas includes kalamansi, yogurt, togarashi, and lime. Glassware and garnishes are eye-catching. Large-format cocktails serve “4 or more delightful human beings” — no word on how many miserable ones.

Overheard Talk about home renovations, sororities, corporate opportunities, and gardening. “It’s like an adult Shirley Temple,” says a woman sipping a crimson mocktail. “I keep waiting for it to make me drunk.” A punster looks around at the decor and quips: “You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her read.” “Let’s go to the South End for dinner,” says a lunchtime visitor, thinking ahead. “There’s a man wearing a patriot outfit over there,” chortles someone at the next table. “I want to retire,” a weary worker announces with a sigh. “I have felt the Radius deficit, and this might fill it,” declares a woman in glamorous shades, biting into a cheeseburger.

Ames Hotel, 1 Court St., Boston, 617-979-8203,

Devra First can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.