Green Street Grill | 280 Green Street | 617.876.1655
Green Street Grill
Dylan Black grew up in Cambridgeport and finally realized a life-long dream of running a place in his own neighborhood when he bought and remodeled this beloved old bar/restaurant. He’s crafted a menu that updates old-time New England classics with outstanding bar snacks (spiced nuts, deviled eggs), homey starters (corn chowder, fried chicken livers, an excellent grilled-cheese sandwich), and entrées and sides showcasing local ingredients (Yankee pot roast, halibut, venison pot pie, a one-dish clambake, Boston baked beans, succotash). The dining room and bar are spare but comfortable, and most of the menu’s entrées are clustered around $20. Black trained at the B-Side Lounge (the progenitor of Boston’s classic-cocktail revival) and recruited talent there, so Green Street boasts some of the best, most serious and service-oriented bartending on this side of the Charles. Headline: local boy makes good; frugal, hungry neighbors rejoice.
T. W. Food | 377 Walden Street | 617.864.4745
Is it a stretch to call a restaurant with $30 entrées a neighborhood place? Maybe, but T.W. Food is extraordinarily ambitious and deserves an audience beyond its ostensible neighborhood focus. Or perhaps it really is a neighborhood place, just one suited to prosperous neighbors who’ll pay a premium for real slow food. First-time owners Tim and Bronwyn Wiechmann (he’s in the kitchen, she’s out front) are obsessive in their penchant for local suppliers and sustainably produced food and wine. Their craft and care show in the hospitality and on the plate, as in boudin blanc, a subtly flavored, fine-grained white sausage of pork, served with perfect greens and a compote of just-in-season local blackberries. Roasted breast and braised leg of pheasant is another locally sourced stunner, evoking area woodlands with wild chanterelles and cushioned with a delicate mousseline of sweet potatoes. The high level of the food is a bit dissonant with the Spartan room, and prices may discourage frequent visits. But this quirky venture is original and daring, advocating for sustainability without sacrificing deliciousness. Consider a trip here a pricey exercise in consciousness-raising with an epicurean payoff.
Chez Henri | One Shepard Street | 617.354.8980
While I admire the French-bistro cooking practiced in the dining room, I inevitably visit Chez Henri for its bar menu, a luxurious take on Cuban food and cocktails. Long before frat boys discovered mojitos, Chez Henri was muddling mint with a vengeance and serving other Cuban classics, including real daiquiris and periodistas. Its biggest draw has always been the Cubano, the famed pressed sandwich of roast pork, ham, cheese, and pickles. Chez Henri’s is arguably the tastiest in town, if not the most authentic (that honor belongs to JP’s El Oriental de Cuba). The rest of the menu offers similarly compelling small plates for weeknight dining: clam fritters, chicken empanadas, grilled sardines, raw oysters, smoked baby octopus. It’s often hectic in the cramped bar area, but especially with everything under $14, this is one crowd worth fighting.