The Restaurant Scene: 12/13

The newest and best thing to happen in Harvard Square in decades is the recent opening of Beat Hotel.  The cocktails are good, the live music nightly is wonderful, and the food is reliable and getting better.  I’ve been dropping in weekly.  The ribs I had this week were delicious (but then, folks, it’s pork and if you can’t cook pork, give it up, it’s the scrambled eggs of the meat world): they tasted as if they had been sous-vide prepared, then marinated in brown sugar and cumin and salt and pepper, and then placed under a Salamander.  Anyway, great with gin or an IPA.

And all over Boston there are pizza places popping up: Otto from Portland, Maine; a new place owned by Michael Leviton just opened in Somerville; Locale in the North End; and, soon, Pastoral in Fort Point Channel.  Everyone loves pizza.  Can’t go wrong with pizza.  Take dough, tomato sauce, and cheese, add toppings, and bake at high heat.  Kind of like a more nutritious doughnut.

And over in NYC, well, it seems as if there’s more focus on food than on pork and pizza.  This year has Sushi Nakazawa, Betony, Rotisserie Georgette, and in the recent past there are Perla, Il Buco, and Lafayette.


Top Stories in The World of Food

First of all, the very sad news of Judy Rogers’s death.  Chef Rogers ran Zuni in SF; one of my favorite restaurants on the planet.  Versatile, simple in the best sense, a good and convivial room, and delicious ingredients.  57.  Yikes.

Then we have all the Michelin stars in Tokyo announced last night.  I kind of get it and I kind of don’t.  Why does “Sense,” a Chinese restaurant, get one star when “Signature,” in the same hotel, which is a great French place, get none?  Why do raw fish restaurants get any stars at all?   It’s raw.  It’s fish.  It’s delicious.  So what?

Locally, my song to “Giulia” in Cambridge continues.  I just hope that my love for a place doesn’t kill it.  That’s what has happened to many places I loved in Boston; I like good, simple food prepared with high end ingredients rather than bars that happen to sell food that are run by people who buy cheap cuts of meat and put tons of stuff on them.

Which leads to the horizon: Locanda Verde, Betony, Rotisserie Georgette, Esca, Perla, and Second Avenue Deli.  Now we’re talking.


Birthdays in December


Well, yes, it’s not until 12/23, but the Emperor’s birthday will be celebrated here in Boston this Wednesday at the State House, and I’ve been invited to attend.  What do you bring for someone who has everything?  New clothes?

It couldn’t happen at a better time.  The nostalgia of Thanksgiving with its syrupy way of getting into everything on the plate is just about over: It’s turkey chili today and, basta!  And yesterday, at Russo’s, the regional version of Fairway, long corridors of Christmas trees formed a simple maze for restless boys whose parents looked for arboreal bliss.

And we know what that means.

Crown roasts, more turkey, geese, and what not in less than four weeks.  Video games, cookware, coffee table books, and sweaters.

So why not look East?  Why, not indeed?  Ironic, in part, that the presentation of the gift in Japan–box, wrapping, ribbons, colors, way paper is folded–often trumps what’s inside.