WHO IS IN CHARGE Beverly native Katie Mitchell, a five-year veteran of 15 Walnut in Hamilton, has been general manager at The Waterfield Kitchen, or TWK, in downtown Winchester since last March.
“To be honest, TWK is still developing, but I think it always will,” said Mitchell. “That’s the secret to success in this business.”
Part of the Serenitee Restaurant Group (as is 15 Walnut), TWK opened in September 2015, the newest and westernmost outpost of owner Mark McDonough’s eclectic collection of nine eateries. According to Mitchell, McDonough “just fell in love with the bones of the building. It actually has a lot of history.”
Mitchell’s role is to take the expansive-yet-inclusive vision of McDonough and Serenitee’s executive chef, Jeff Cala, and make it a reality.
“They wanted to make something that appeals to everyone, much like our other restaurants, where a family can decide what they eat for dinner,” she said. “One person wants sushi, another wants a steak. We try to appeal to a wide range of palettes.”
THE ATMOSPHERE Long and narrow, the interior of TWK — like its menu — is designed to offer a variety of dining experiences. The red brick walls of the bar area give it a sturdy, industrial vibe that enhances the lively buzz of a group of friends gathering for an after-work drink. The dining rooms, meanwhile, feature soft, natural lighting, warm colors, and intriguing artwork that encourages you to unwind.
“Mark describes it as ‘Boho-chic.’ ” said Mitchell of the dining room, referring to Bohemian and hippy influences. “You can sit at a two-person booth and have an intimate conversation.”
That’s exactly what my wife, Lauri, and I did during our midweek visit. There’s an inviting ambiance to TWK that feels just right on a chilly winter evening. Our waitress, Laura, was personable and knowledgeable.
ON THE MENU “What sets us apart in every aspect of our menu is that we use the freshest, highest-quality ingredients,” said Mitchell. “And we make everything from scratch.”
Chef Andrew Tate employs “classic French techniques to create approachable foods,” said Mitchell.
The sushi menu is extensive, but Lauri and I decided to sample that another time. Instead, we split a Brûléed Apple Salad ($13). This artful dish, served in a large bowl, is a fun combination of Boston bibb lettuce, endive, cider vinaigrette, crisp brûléed apple slices, blue cheese, bacon, and a pancetta chip.
Selecting an entrée was challenging. Lauri initially thought about the Seared Local Diver Scallops ($30) and the Braised Lamb ($24) from TWK’s revolving rotisserie specials, but ultimately ordered the Parisienne Gnocchi ($22). This elegant dish, featuring wild mushroom, charred Brussels sprouts leaves, and a velvety Madeira cream sauce, was so good that my wife compared it to “a beautifully written novel.”
“I didn’t want it to end,” she said wistfully.
I followed my nose. There was an unmistakable barbecue aroma in the air, and our server informed us it was the Bolgogi ($24). The thin beef strips, sautéed with onions, carrots, scallions, and sesame seeds and served with sticky white rice, were delicious, complemented perfectly by my Kelsen Paradigm Brown Ale ($8).
Though neither dish was enormous, both Lauri and I were full after cleaning our plates, meaning the Cherry Jerry Crème Brûlée ($9) — made with Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino Cherries and dark chocolate and named for the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia — would have to wait for another visit. Which will be soon. Our meal at TWK was one of the best dining experiences we’ve ever shared.
The Waterfield Kitchen, 14 Thompson St., Winchester. 781-729-0204, twk-winchester.com.