Boston wasn't a great place to dine in those days, but South End choices were particularly poor. There were Eddie Cain's and Freddy Parker's, unassuming take-out joints; Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe, established in 1930 and still serving its famous turkey hash today; and Nadia's, a Middle Eastern spot next door to a seedy saloon called the Franklin Café.
Fast-forward to the present. I'm perched on a bar stool at Tremont 647 (647 Tremont St.; 617-266-4600). Its 29-year-old chef and co-owner, Andy Husbands, has just informed me that I'm sitting in the former Eddie Cain's. I nearly choke on my Riesling. Thousands of fried chickens must have flown out of this very spot.
What would Eddie Cain, reportedly alive and well in Florida, make of this realignment of food fêng shui? Fried chicken has been replaced by $18 entrées like steamed Chilean sea bass topped with flakes of dried bonito that undulate from the heat of the fish. Instead of barbecued ribs, patrons devour pork momo dumplings, handmade by Tsering Dongshi, the Tibetan day chef. Husbands's Generation-X cooking is both serious and playful: his take on Tater Tots is Fontina stuffed and truffle scented. I wonder whether Mr. Cain would even recognize the old place, now decorated in warm yellows, softly lit and comfy. Hey, Eddie, you reading this? Visit Tremont 647's Web site at www.kitchencam.com to see a live video feed of the kitchen.