A new reason to visit Quincy’s restaurant row
IN THE KITCHEN Boston restaurant talent is still beating a path to Quincy with the September debut of Idle Hour cocktail bar and restaurant on Hancock Street. Owner Mathew Freid, 34, has worked in Boston-area restaurants since he was 15 and holds a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Drexel University. He and his executive chef, Ashley Gaboriault, met when they were opening managers at Beat Brew Hall in Cambridge six years ago. “Ashley and I bonded over late night dinosaur chicken nuggets back then,” said Freid, reflecting their shared love of freedom and fun in the kitchen. Gaboriault brings her chops from recent stints at chef Barbara Lynch’s Menton and as the chef de cuisine at Lynch’s Drink in Boston.
THE LOCALE With a spare exterior and green neon signage, Idle Hour takes its place at the heart of Quincy’s developing restaurant row. Totally renovating the former Clash of the Ash pub, Freid has created a comfortable 84-seat space with an urban feel. A long teak bar runs the length of the room, two large communal high tops span the center of the space, and banquets and blond wooden tables comprise a more conventional dining area. Different lighting — sunburst hanging lamps, wooden boxes slit to emit red light, and green bulbs that outline wall angles — give a feeling of cover beneath exposed industrial pipes. Walls of old brick and sections wallpapered in big tropical leaves are eclectically paired, but when the bartender shakes cocktails above his head, you can’t help but think Miami Beach in the ’50s.
ON THE MENU Gaboriault and Freid have designed a small menu of sharing plates (”Sharing is caring”) and main courses (“It’s OK to be selfish”), which is more like a template than a menu. Freid said he intends to keep the total number of dishes low, but to change them out often: If he decides to serve Chinese food one month, he reserves the right. The closest Gaboriault comes to characterizing the food is to call it “fun playful bar food that’s unique and interesting, but super familiar and approachable.” In our forays into caring by sharing, we found the Brussels sprouts ($10) a proud ambassador. A gorgeous plate of the cut and caramelized vegetable is topped with crispy shallots and encircled with grounding goat cheese. The pork tacos ($12) can make you three friends, the triple serving of toothsome shells filled with spicy shredded pork and topped with a cooling apple slaw. Of the two deep-fried sharables, forgo the mozzarella sticks ($8) and take the Reuben nuggets ($10): Dip these ovals into the house-made thousand island, top with sauerkraut, and you’ve got a Reuben in a bite.
As for the five main courses, they’re serious eats at a great price point. The delicious half chicken ($20) is a plate of crispy, yet moist, bone-in meat in three pieces, served over gravy and Brussels sprouts. The porterhouse pork chop ($18) is another good plate, the meat beautifully cooked and served with mashed potatoes and a rustic apple sauce. So, too, the bar steak ($21): a big, satisfying plate of rare meat, served over delectable, duck fat-roasted potatoes and sided with a brightly dressed arugula salad. A newcomer, the falafel gyro ($14), is a massive pita bread overstuffed with tasty falafel patties dressed with several sauces, including lemon mint yogurt, and served with good fries. “Quincy is really coming up,” said Gaboriault. “There’s a lot of great food here, and more on the way.”
Idle Hour, 1464 Hancock St., Quincy, 617-845-5711, idlehourquincy.com.