Boston's restaurant scene is frequently compared to that of New York City. I have always believed this comparison is unfair and disillusioned. Perhaps New York excels in terms of its incredible diversity, high level of competition and sheer quantity of food service options available, however, in the past few years, Boston has begun to stand out for its celebration of local, seasonal New England fare.
Boston's restaurant scene breeds a tight scene of community and is largely based on the incredible work of a few great chefs and their restaurant empires: Barbara Lynch, Lydia Shire and Ken Oringer all come to mind. In recent years, a fresh crop of young chefs, many of whom were trained in these kitchens have strung out on their own and really begun to take Boston's food scene to the next level.
Nowhere is this fresh and exciting energy more apparent than with the fresh opening of Chef Will Gilson's very own restaurant in Inman Square, Puritan and Co.
For many years now, Chef Will has been planning this venture, holding popups in and around town ( a few of which I had the opportunity to attend) to experiment with dishes and ingredients and otherwise going over every single detail in order to make his first opening everything he wanted. Puritan and Company was going to be something more than just another restaurant, it was going to be a place to share his cooking and vision of seasonal, modern American-New England cuisine, but also and perhaps more importantly, a tribute to his farm The Herb Lyceum and family in Groton, Mass.
Last Wednesday, I was able to make a visit amid the craziness of The Nutcracker and all the anticipation as well as my high expectations were met.
Walking into Puritain and Co. is like finding yourself in a New England kitchen, many elements of the restaurant are refurbished or vintage pieces from Will's farm (the host stand is in fact an old oven from the Herb Lyceum dating back to the 1920s) and the menu reflects hand picked, seasonal ingredients and ideas.
Everything my friend and I had was delicious. From an assortment of charcuterie options, the hand-carved cured ham was the best I have tasted (and I have been all over Spain). Chef Will serves it in irregular cuts to add variety and extra taste to each piece.
The grilled oysters came out plump and juicy and the moxie-glazed lamb belly was unlike anything I have eaten. Amazingly, one of Will's salads was my favorite. A frisee topped with a fried farm egg, foie cubes, duck crackling and johnny cake made for an incredible mixture of salty and sweet, runny and crisp and deeply savory.
It was a magical salad!
Of their main entrees, we opted for the wood-roasted Muscovy duck. Two pieces, perfectly roasted and crispy were served with quinoa, mushrooms and freshly picked thyme (literally, their is a herb garden set up along the charcuterie bar in the back ). The duck was exquisite and that they could serve so many excellent dishes at this stage in their opening was astounding.
We tried a few other items, none disappointed and I cannot wait to get back to relax in this familial atmosphere.
With Chef Will's new restaurant, as well as the openings of other young and talented chefs in the coming weeks, there is no doubt that Boston's restaurant scene has entered into a new phase of its development, one which it can be proud of in its own right.