Beacon Street Tavern

An old favorite gets a new sibling  
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  August 17, 2006
2.0 2.0 Stars

TAKE TWO: The owners of the popular Washington Square Tavern simplify a successful formula with their second restaurant.
The owners of the Washington Square Tavern have a successful-restaurant formula, and thought a simplified version of that blueprint could work at a troublesome but large space at the far end of Audubon Circle’s restaurant row. Customers apparently agreed with them, since the new bar-restaurant (which doesn’t take reservations) is often full by 6 pm — especially the many outdoor tables during good weather. I agree that the formula has many friends, but I am not sure that I am still one of them, and I miss some of the small plates that got simplified out.

The original bread at the Washington Square Tavern was sourdough. The bread at the Beacon Street Tavern is dull French white bread. It still sops up some good sauces, but it’s a step down. Certainly the Maine lobster chowder ($8) is good, but is it chowder? The overwhelming flavors are heavily-smoked bacon and hot pepper. The broth offers little seafood sweetness, although there is lobster meat (and skin-on potatoes and celery) in the soup, and a no-thickener cream base.

Sashimi tuna tartare ($11) is also dominated by the seasonings, in this case soy and sesame so pervasive as to make it more like marinated ceviche than sashimi, which features the subtle flavors of plain raw fish. Again, this is good eating: tasty morsels of fish in the obligatory cylinder (ironically approaching the dimensions of a standard can of tuna fish), with a terrific side salad of arugula and three crisp fried triangles of wonton skin.

Most main dishes are served on oversize plates. If the plate is oval and somewhat standardized, it’s called a platter, as in sirloin tips ($15), with a choice of potato (choose mashed), and a well-dressed standard salad. The portions are generous and the meat is well marinated, probably with soy and garlic. If the plate is round, it’s an entrée. One of these, a special on veal Milanese ($23), had two slightly over-fried scaloppini over a nicely made creamy risotto (often a good choice at the Washington Square sibling) with bits of vegetables, including asparagus stirred in toward the end. The halibut ($23) is a vertical platter with a lively mango salsa over an over-salted crust on a fine light piece of fish, in turn resting on smoky flavored beans. The beans were fully cooked, which has become such a rare condition for shell beans in Boston that it is now worthy of notice. If you feel like more vegetables (and didn’t order the vegetarian entrée, a layered eggplant dish), you can add a side dish of something like broccolini ($3.50) for two or three people. Broccolini is like miniature broccoli, and therefore crunchier, but it also holds more garlic on each bite. I am in favor of this.

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