Chef Michael Schlow on Boston
F&W Best New Chef 2005 Tony Maws has more room to employ his nose-to-tail approach to cooking now that he’s moved from a postage-stamp-size dining room to a spacious corner bistro (translation: he now does his own butchering in the basement). His food remains as obsessively seasonal and rustic as ever. The new location also has an 11-seat bar, where small-batch liquors are the focus.
We loved: Pomegranate-glazed veal sweetbreads with smoked farro.
Pages from the 19th-century cookbook The Virginia Housewife paper one of the bathrooms at this charming new Southern-inspired spot by Barry Maiden (an F&W Best New Chef 2009). One wall of the bar is covered with the names of friends, neighbors and fellow chefs who made donations (mostly via PayPal) to help fund the restaurant. Each donor got a 25 percent discount off their first meal on dishes like cornmeal-crusted catfish with hopping John.
We loved: Warm beef tongue canapé.
This dinerlike pan-Asian restaurant is easy to spot: Magenta dragon decals line its windows. Husband-and-wife team Christopher Myers and Joanne Chang (who also owns Flour Bakery + Café) run this busy, all-day restaurant serving a range of Asian dishes, from Indonesian fried rice to Chinese scallion pancakes.
We loved: Oyster omelet with spicy sambal.
Chef Barbara Lynch (an F&W Best New Chef 1996) recently expanded her empire with the handcrafted-cocktail bar Drink and the market-driven trattoria Sportello, but her flagship, in a Beacon Hill townhouse, remains a favorite. The French-Italian menu gets seasonal with dishes such as roasted skate wing with salsify and green garlic but also holds on to mainstays like the famed prune-stuffed gnocchi. Wine director Cat Silirie’s wine list remains one of the city’s best.
We loved: Crispy pork belly with braised endive.
Local chefs line up for seats inside F&W Best New Chef 2008 Tim Cushman’s brick-walled space to try his improbable combination of Japanese techniques and New England ingredients in dishes like Maine lobster salad with creamy yuzu dressing. Cushman’s wife, Nancy, created the stellar sake list, which covers several grades of artisanal bottlings, such as junmai daiginjo.
We loved: Kumamoto oyster with watermelon pearls and cucumber mignonette; Santa Barbara sea urchin with Valencia orange and fresh wasabi.
Chef-owner Ana Sortun serves her eastern-Mediterranean menu in a honey-colored dining room and foliage-covered patio. She focuses on unusual spices and sauces, adding fiery zhoug (a Yemeni paste of chili, coriander and garlic) to tuna rolls and za’atar (a Middle Eastern blend dominated by sumac and sesame seeds) to a chopped salad.
We loved: Scallops with Meyer lemon, rose cream and Persian green rice.
Michael Schlow (an F&W Best New Chef 1996) keeps busy with two locations of his inexpensive Italian spot Alta Strada. But he can often still be found in the kitchen at his first Boston restaurant, in the Financial District, preparing creative French dishes accented with Asian touches, like tamarind-glazed duck breasts.
We loved: Olive oil–poached duck with citrus honey and pickled ramps.
Renowned Boston chef Lydia Shire’s appropriately named restaurant, Scampo (Italian for “escape”), is set inside a former prison, now The Liberty Hotel. Menu highlights include handmade pastas, fresh mozzarella and Shire’s famed Elephant Ear Walking (a curving flatbread covered with tomatoes and melted cheese).
We loved: Lamb pizza; risi e bisi (risotto with fresh green peas).
It’s hard to tell which of chef Ken Oringer’s outposts is most beloved—his flagship, Clio; sashimi bar Uni; or this casual brick-walled Spanish restaurant, which serves hit-the-spot bocadillos (sandwiches) with fillings like chorizo and caramelized onion. Recently, the traditional Spanish menu was updated to include an offal plate, as well as dishes with Moorish ingredients like merguez and harissa.
We loved: Mais asado (grilled corn with aioli, lime and cotija cheese).