The underlayment for a special on fluke ($27), which is usually a summer flounder in these parts, was white beans and prosciutto. The fish, from wherever, was superbly fresh and cut from a large fluke, the better to roast and get a little crust. Trout ($22) was almost as rich as Arctic char, and the crunchy basis of couscous and underdone green beans was delightful. The weakest entrée — though it was still fine eating — was the “oak-roasted” chicken ($18), and all it really needed was grits or polenta instead of sliced fingerling potatoes. The chicken had a wonderful crust from the high-temperature oven, but it was a little underseasoned, although I liked the grilled onions and sautéed greens.
The wine list is very good and gets expensive, although fair relative to retail prices. We resorted to a bottle of bubbly, Mumm Napa Prestige ($32), at a bit less than double retail, and it was very good with this food, with an apple-y chardonnay nose. The house wines were a Nicholas Potel 2003 Bourgogne rouge “Cuvée Grand Potel” ($10/glass; $40/bottle) and a Brogna “Gran Piero” Gavi 2004 ($10/$38). The latter got all the fruit and spice of modern winemaking grafted onto the mineral backbone of this ancient white grape from Italy. The former was a light, dry, nicely made and blended red Burgundy — what used to be priced as a food wine, and it still works that way. Tea ($4.25) is served loose-leaf in an Asian cast-iron pot. Decaf ($3.25) was some of the best I’ve had in years.
Desserts are likewise outstanding. It’s hard to pick from a list of up to nine desserts — an unprecedented commitment for a restaurant of this fairly modest size. Butterscotch pudding ($7) is a great success with a deceptively simple favorite, and the decorations of real chipped cream and sautéed pecan crumbs are not distractions. Decadent chocolate cake ($8) is all of that, with a paste of plumped-up dried cherries alongside.
Service was very good and covered some of the formal nuances without being stiff. Food this posh is usually served, I must point out, at tables with larger and softer chairs. The rooms are mostly canary yellow; there’s chartreuse lighting up the bar, a framed map of early Boston-Allston on one wall of the bar dining room (where you see the oven), and some framed lobster-promotion pamphlets in the back dining room. This is a reference to a Sewall cousin in the Maine lobster business — a promising connection when one thinks ahead to summer feasts. Potted plants take some of the edge off the windows, and it isn’t an overloud restaurant, even when nearly full. The early crowds we saw were probably Brookliners, and among the better dressed at that. This is, after all, the fanciest food served in a town full of restaurants.
Lineage, 242 Harvard Street, Brookline | Open Tues–Thurs, 5–10 pm; Fri-Sat, 5–10:30 pm; Sun, 10:30 am–2:30 pm and 5–9 pm | AE, DI, MC, VI | Full bar | No valet parking; validated parking at brookline Marriott | Sidewalk-level access| 617.232.0065
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Robert Nadeau: RobtNadeau@aol.com