The South End rumor mill is grinding fast and furious these days. Earlier this year SoWa Boston confirmed GTI Properties purchased the Jesuit Urban Center and the Immaculate Conception Church on Harrison Avenue. Unconfirmed reports suggest that GTI Properties plans to convert these two 19th century structures into 80 apartments.
In addition to news about GTI Properties latest development, rumor has it that a Mexican restaurant will soon be opening in the space formerly occupied by Sibling Rivalry on Tremont Street in the South End.
At this point, this is only an unconfirmed rumor but it is one that I’ve now heard from two different restaurant owners in the South End. Questions remain who may be behind the new restaurant, but if it is true this extends a streak of Mexican restaurants opening in Boston that I thought had run its course. This would be the
first second (sorry El Centro!) Mexican restaurant to open in the South End and be just two blocks from Masa, a southwest bar and grill. If the rumors prove true, the new restaurant could give both El Centro and Masa a run for their money.
Photo: Hammersley’s Bistro in the South End from 40-Something Life blog
Now that the weather is warm enough to enjoy dining outside at night, nearly every restaurant in the South End with outdoor space has set up tables and chairs for patrons to dine al fresco. However, not all patios are equal – some will leave you inhaling the fumes of passing cars and buses, others are so loud you can barely hear anything. Here are some patios in the South End I enjoy.
Most comfortable patio in the South End
28 Degrees is set back from the hustle & bustle of Tremont Street and has comfortable patio furniture. If you’ve not been to 28 Degrees patio, I’d encourage you to check it out. This is a great space to meet up for a date or an evening out with a group of friends.
Best people watching in the South End
This is a tie between Stephi’s on Tremont and Kitchen. Both restaurants are approximately 1 block apart near Tremont and Clarendon Street – a major intersection for pedestrian traffic all but ensuring great people watching. You’ll see half the neighborhood walk by you when you have a meal here.
Most social patio in the South End
Tremont 647 / Sister Sorel patios are always full with parties more interested in chatting and having a drink than whatever is on the menu, although I will admit the scene is at its most fun each Tuesday night when both places host $2 Taco nights – good luck trying to get a table, but it is worth trying.
Most private patio in the South End:
Even though Cinquecento may have the dubious distinction of being the loudest restaurant in the South End, they have a very quiet and private patio away from any noise or pollution from the street that is tucked away and surrounded by a restored brick mill building.
Other South End restaurant patios worth checking out:
Petit Robert Bistro’s patio on Columbus Ave
Boston Chops on Washington Street
Hammersley’s as shown in the photo above on Clarendon Street
Chefs, shuckers, and bivalve lovers will gather to eat, drink, and have fun in the South End this Sunday. Attendees will also be able to meet Chef Barbara Lynch, Top Chef Season 10 winner Kristen Kish and finalist Brooke Williamson.
More than 25 South End restaurants and oyster farms will make this year’s Oyster Invitational the largest yet.
Sunday, May 5th – 1PM to 6PM for general admission
For more information and to purchase tickets to this event, link here.
The silver lining to the Boston Marathon tragedy is the countless acts of kindness and the outpouring of emotion to show support. Today the South End Patch reported how a neighbor of mine here in the South End purchased everyone’s coffee and tea this morning. Perhaps I’m more shaken by the events from this week than I realize, because I found this story very touching.
If you’d like to read this feel good story, link to the South End Patch here.
If you live in the South End near the Cathedral of the Holy Cross (like yours truly) plan to move your car.
Due to the President’s visit to Boston on Thursday, April 18th to attend the prayer service at the Holy Cross Cathedral, no parking will be allowed on Washington Street, Harrison Avenue, and all the cross streets between Shawmut and Albany Streets. Traffic will be completely shut down between 9 am and 2 pm. The Secret Service said they could not provide any further information if the service at the Cathedral would be open to the public or if you will need a special permit to attend. Final plans are still being made.
Spread the word…
The ownership of the building that houses Francesca’s Cafe in the South End quietly changed hands at the end of 2012 in what is rumored to have been a cash deal. The new owner is South End resident, Fredmond Kiley the 4th.
Are the days numbered for Francesca’s Cafe in the South End?
The building was bought with Francesca’s lease intact, but it is unclear how many more years remain on that lease and the reason that is of interest is because rumor has it the new landlord would prefer a high end restaurant and cafe. Who can say if Francesca’s would be forced out when their existing lease expires but if that comes to pass it is unlikely the popular cafe would be able to find another home in the neighborhood it has served for nearly 20 years.
What are your thoughts? Would you miss Francesca’s or would you prefer to see something else go into this prime location in the neighborhood?
AIDS Action deserves a lot of credit for hosting another successful Taste of the South End. I’ve attended many tasting events put on by different neighborhoods and organizations and this annual event held in the South End remains my favorite. The number and variety of food and drink is impressive, the crowd is always friendly and the money goes to such a worthy charity.
As usual, there were some real stand outs, my favorite was the tuna tartare with soy and ginger served on cripsy wontons from Mistral. The tuna melted in the mouth and I had all I could do not to swipe one of the platters holding a dozen or more of these treats from their table. Additionally, Myers + Chang’s served their restaurant’s popular salmon + honeycrisp apple tartare with spicy soy, spinach and sesame crisps; mental note to order it on my next visit there.
On the sweeter side, PICCO wowed me for the second year in a row with their “adult float” which combines a fruit flavored lambic (this year was peach) poured over either vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Also adicting was The Gallows miniature fluffernutter pies which were conveniently next to PICCO.
In addition to eating great food and getting the opportunity to chat with friends, attendees find out about changes at neighborhood restaurants. For example, did you know Estelle’s has started serving lunch on Saturdays and Aquitaine has a newly expanded lunch menu which they offer weekdays.
Boston Chops opened yesterday in Boston’s South End neighborhood, and it’s opening may be the best evidence the recession is behind us. Owners, Brian Piccini and Executive Chef, Chris Coombs, are betting they can lure clientele from the neighborhood and beyond to keep this space busy beyond the opening week buzz. With a price point that averages between $30 – $39 for most main dishes, this also marks a departure from recent restaurant openings that had lower price points, but then again the menu prices are consistent with the city’s other steak houses even if they are higher than neighboring restaurants.
Since so much has been written about the restaurant already, I thought I would focus on their menu which centers around their signature plate, Steak Frites. At Boston Chops you may select the cut of meat you would like and you may enjoy as many frites you may consume. The cuts available make this signature plate range from $24 for the flat iron cut to $39 for the filet.
Starters - with items like sushi grade fluke ceviche for $11, Caesar salad for $9 and mussels for $14 there is a little of something for everyone.
Rarely Celebrated - this section of the menu concentrates on parts to the cow not usually served in steak houses, like bone marrow for $9.
Entrees / Ocean & Other - these two sections combine to provide patrons with a wide range of meals including cuts of beef, seafood, chicken and pasta plates. Prices range from $19 – $39.
Sides - like many steakhouses there is plenty to tempt you, but what caught my eye was the poutine style twice baked loaded potato for $12; definitely not a low-fat option but one I know I’ll be trying.
Look for pictures of these tempting items and a restaurant review in the weeks that follow. Should you have a chance to stop by Boston Chops, let me know your thoughts about the new restaurant. My congratulations and best of luck to the owners and staff.
Boston Chops (617) 227-5011 / 1375 Washington Street in the South End
Late in 2012 Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams opened their newly expanded furniture store which doubled the floor space of their original storefront.
So I was surprised to see that Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams have opened a sizable Pop Up furniture store at 520 Harrison Avenue near the intersection of Harrison and Randolph Street. According to the sales rep I spoke to the store will remain here in SoWa for the next few months and they are open from 10am – 6pm daily. Unfortunately, I did not get a phone number, but you may contact their flagship store in the South End for more details at 617-266-0075.
One week from today the Taste of the South End will take place at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) on Tremont Street. All proceeds from this culinary delight that each year tempts the hundreds who help this event sell out will go to benefit New England’s largest AIDS service organization, The AIDS Action Committee.
Taste of the South End is Tuesday, March 5th
Doors are open from 7-9pm (VIP’s are welcome starting at 6pm)
It is difficult to articulate how much fun I have at this event each year and for those new to the area or curious to check out restaurants in the South End, this offers you a great opportunity to sample plates from 40+ restaurants in the neighborhood. Many of the stations are hosted by the head chef or general manager of the restaurant so it also offers you a chance to chat 1:1. If you haven’t yet, consider supporting AIDS Action Committee’s superb event The Taste of the South End by purchasing tickets today.
Purchase Tickets to The Taste of the South End Here
This year’s participating restaurants include: 28 Degrees, Addis Red Sea, Aquitaine, B&G Oysters, The Beehive, BoMA, The Butcher Shop, Cinquecento, Coppa, DaVinci Ristorante, Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen, Davio’s, Estelle’s, El Centro, Flour Bakery, Formaggio South End, The Gallows, Gaslight, Haley House Café, Hamersley’s Bistro, Kitchen, Masa, Mela, Metropolis Cafe, Mistral, Myers + Chang, OrinocoPetit Robert Bistro, Picco, Pigalle, Sibling Rivalry, South End Buttery, Stella, Stephi’s on Tremont, Stir, Toro, Tremont 647/Sister Sorel, Turner Fisheries, Union Bar and Grille, and Whole Foods Market
For those who purchase VIP tickets these restaurants will be in the VIP Lounge: Bistro du Midi, Summer Shack, and Yakitori Zai
The next restaurant expected to open in the South End is Boston Chops. Earlier this week I was able to sit down with restaurant owner, Brian Piccini, to talk about the imminent opening, the menu and his expectations.
Brian wasn’t able to predict when Boston Chops would open, grimacing slightly he shrugged and said “any day now”. I can tell you from the tour he gave me, the restaurant is ready – all he’s lacking is the glassware and liquor behind the huge bar he’s built, which happens to even include an oyster shucking station and raw bar. This is a large restaurant capable of seating well over 150+, and the space is beautifully designed. While there are plenty of rich woods and dark colors its custom light features, exposed brick and unfinished steel gives it an edge that suits the South End neighborhood this restaurant is calling home.
Boston Chops opening may be the best evidence that the recession is firmly behind us. The restaurant’s size and the expected price point means, Brian Piccini and his Executive Chef, Chris Coombs, are betting they can lure residents from the neighborhood and beyond to keep them busy seven days a week. When I inquired if there would be a bar menu he shook his head and said the decision to forgo a smaller bar menu was a conscious one.
I was not able to look at a wine list since it has yet to be pulled together, but the evening I sat down with Brian, wine was definitely top of mind as he sampled several Cabernets. By the size of the bar — one that comfortably seats 25 (I counted) and the impressive wine room encased in glass and on display for all to see — you too will be mindful that one has many options.
Although at the time that I wrote this post Boston Chops was not taking reservations, Brian has indicated one may call the restaurant or look to online restaurant reservation systems like ureserv.com and opentable.com.
Boston Chops (617) 227-5011 / 1375 Washington Street in the South End
Click on image to enlarge
I woke up this morning to look out at a blustery day filled with snow blowing up and down Harrison Avenue in Boston’s South End.
This is a view from my fourth floor apartment; to the left you can see Harrison Avenue heading toward E. Berkeley Street and to the right is a view of the BSC South End gym and Gaslight restaurant. Hard to believe that spring technically starts in approximately 30-days.
Starting this weekend, you will have another option for brunch as Cinquecento opens to serve patrons from 10am – 3pm on Saturday and Sunday. The menu which is posted on their website here, is divided into pastries, smaller first plates, eggs, salads and pastas; all very reasonably priced it would appear.
According to the press release, Cinquecento’s brunch menu will include savory Italian dishes like truffled polenta with poached eggs, grilled steak and eggs with Pecorino biscuits, as well as sweeter options like crepes with whipped lemon ricotta and native honey, ricotta fritters and sugar donuts.
You can call to make a reservation at (617) 338-9500.
Recently I chatted with the people over at Boston Chops. Rumors of their opening still remain unconfirmed, but waitstaff has already started training so hopefully the wait is nearly over. When the doors open, Boston Chops hours will be 4pm to 1am; serving dinner from 5pm to midnight – daily. Boston Chops will also be open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 3pm, but I was told brunch will not be available immediately.
The menu is either not finished or when I spoke to them they wanted to keep the information private. I was told the menu focuses on allowing patrons options not often associate with steak houses. For example, you will be allowed to choose your cut of steak for their signature steak frites and you will be served unlimited fries. While that sounds delicious, when I asked about prices I was told Boston Chops is an “urban steak bistro” with approachable prices. Huh? I have absolutely no idea what that means. However, if Chef Coombs restaurant Deuxave in the Back Bay is any indication, main plates could range from $31 to $39; let’s hope Coombs opts for a more affordable price point here in the South End so I can visit more often.
Patrons of the previous restaurants in this space will remember a very dramatic interior. Boston Chops brings a completely different look and feel to the space, using dark woods, burgundy tones and heavy unfinished steel. The 30-seat bar and a large lighting fixture designed to look like chandeliers from Burgundy France will provide a sophisticated vibe. Construction was still on-going when I wrote this post earlier in the week, but I have faith it will look beautiful and will be a fantastic (and welcome) addition to the neighborhood.
You can stay up to date on the latest information about Boston Chops by liking their Facebook page here.
Boston Chops had a crew outside today to place their sign out on the restaurant’s awning. Nothing says “ready to open” like hanging a sign out in front of your restaurant… right?
Restaurantaur, Brian Piccini, has an excellent track record with opening successful restaurants so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is a “sign” of an imminent opening. Boston Chops will be the third restaurant in the South End in as many months to open following BoMA, Estelle’s and Cinquecento.