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Fairsted Kitchen im Brookline

Fairsted Kitchen is now open in Washington Square. No sign out, not taking reservations, but open for business. It's right next to Barcelona and may be getting some overflow. Predictions of wait times were a little inaccurate, but generally erred on the longer side. We didn't have to wait more than a half hour on a weekend night (compared to 1 hour or more at Barcelona, go figure.)

We checked it out last week and liked it a lot. The menu is eclectic, billed as North African/Israeli flavors, but there's some Eastern European thrown in, apparently in recognition of the flavors of Washington Square.

The room is on the smaller, but not crowded, side. Very pleasant, a bit loud. The menu is divided into snacks, small plates, large plates, and items to share. We tried a bit of each on 2 visits. (Full disclosure: a friend is the father of one of the owners.)

From the snacks, we had the cod beignets, very nicely fried with a brandade filling. Tasty and fresh. During a slightly long wait for our next courses, we were given a free sample of the croquettes, which were also well-fried but a little bland.

Of the small plates we had the lamb ribs, which were fantastic, perfectly cooked, with a light middle-eastern spice rub, served with an Asian dipping sauce. I know it sounds odd, but it worked.

The spaetzle with rabbit was delicious comfort food. The stuffed cabbage was terrific, with a ground veal filling. What a great idea! It turned what is usually a heavy dish into something much more delicate.

We were stuffed at that point, so didn't have dessert. Decaf was good French-press.

On our return trip, we had the carrot salad with chickpeas (good, but not spectacular), wilted kale with apples (delicious), and the lamb riblets again (still fantastic). I had the sturgeon (one of the large plates) on the recommendation of our server. It was perfectly cooked, but the flavors (sunchokes and olives) were a little strong for such a light fish.

My 3 DC's shared the chateaubriand, which would have been enough for 4. My teenage son polished off the left-overs at home. The meat was very flavorful, tender, and perfectly cooked, served with mashed potatoes, a lovely gravy, and more of the kale.

We were given complimentary desserts (only 2 were on the menu) a pumpkin custard and a chocolate mousse. Both were very good and went quickly.

Wines by the glass were well-chosen and interesting. The pinot noir is a good value at $10 and there was a very nice Croatian(!) red.

Especially given the fact that the restaurant opened within the past week, service was smooth. We did have to ask several times for bread on our second visit and there was a bit of a wait for our food the first night. The chateaubriand was a bit cool when it was served, perhaps due to the fact that it is first presented to the table uncarved first, then taken to the kitchen to be sliced. It was a gorgeous piece of meat either way.

I'm looking to a return trip in the near future. Definitely worth checking out. Who knew that Washington Square would become such a dining destination?

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  1. Croatian wines I understand tend to be rare due to their relatively small production. But they are very well regarded, so that's a nice treat. Do you recall the name or region?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bob Dobalina

      Several years ago I had a very good Hungarian wine, just as Hungarian wines were poised to be the next big thing.

      1. re: Bob Dobalina

        Its the Dingac, Peljesac. Wine Emporium, Marty's, Streetcar carry it.

      2. yay! looking forw to it; th you for the first report!

        1. Better than Walter's ... sounds like

          1. great report- thanks!

            1. Just ate there tonight with my husband and kids (7 and 11). Very satisfying meal, everything was excellently prepared. Cocktails and wine were excellent. Staff were uniformly friendly and welcoming without being overly intrusive. We will definitely return!

              1. Has anyone experienced their late night menu?

                1 Reply
                1. re: C. Hamster

                  I've stayed after dinner late enough to see it, but not eaten anything from it. Small bites, many offal-y in orientation, like ham hock croquettes and the pig-head lettuce wrap (which I consider the least exciting thing on an otherwise no-miss dinner menu.) Definitely attracts an industry crowd.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                2. We went for a late brunch today.Love that room. Nice relaxed vibe too, with great lively music. We shared the grits w/ mushrooms but they were rather 'meh' for both of us. Looked lovely but the grits/polenta would have been improved with some good stock and a little garlic, and the mushrooms needed wine, herbs.....Bring on the flavah!

                  My Love really enjoyed his roast pork open face sandwich with jus. My crepes were lovely tender and the soft scrambled egg filling creamy and well complemented by the beschamel, but the promised black truffle did not make an appearance. I was puzzled that the chef chose waffle potato chips as the accompaniment; this plate would have made the perfet place to include a small green salad or bunch of watercress. Ditto the pork dish.

                  Friendly but poor service was a major strike against. We were pretty much the only table being served at that point, but the grits came and then the 2 entrees right on top. I really doubt that the GM would have been pleased to see this waitress tell me that "that's how we do things here; the kitchen just sends them out as they're ready" Whether that kitchen policy exists or not, what she really was doing was shirking responsibility for a simple pacing issue when she was extremely not busy..Not impressive.
                  And to make it even worse, she said "we don't have any place to keep this in the kitchen; it will just get cold. So wouldn't you rather have it on your table?" !!!

                  (Also, when the GM was our waiter back on our first visit, in Nov., we worked with him to stage our dishes as a series of pairs.)

                  Well, certainly not as successful or memorable as our Ribelle brunches, but i'm sure we'll go back at some point for brunch or dinner, and I bet service will be alot better .

                  1. Had dinner there this weekend. I found the food to be lacking, overall.

                    Issues ranged from underseasoning to improper technique with overcooking a major problem. The chicken was still crispy and the sides were well-cooked but the underseasoning was a misstep. The lamb ribs were dry but still pretty tasty. Spaetzle was dry/overcooked and underseasoned. Pig's head wraps needed more acid or something else to cut the overwhelming oily taste. Pie was great.

                    Pricing is a concern, too. The portion sizes are pretty small, so at these prices ($8 for a tapas-sized portion, $13 for a small appetizer, $19-33 for a small entree) I'd expect a defter hand in the kitchen.

                    I'm not one to quibble over price, as a general rule, but there was definitely a feeling of "I just paid $50/head for a meal that felt like it was prepared by someone who is really punching above his weight".

                    Neat wine list with harder to find stuff. Bar program is still one of the best in the area. Will be back for drinks but unlikely for dinner.

                    I'm not sure this meal was an aberration, either, as I live a 10 minute walk away and know a lot of people who have eaten here and expressed a similar opinion.

                    They were relatively empty on a Saturday night when Barcelona next door had a line. They should be able to siphon some of that crowd.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: QuakerInBoston

                      I've had much better experiences with the food at this place. I wonder if the departure of W. Scott Osif, the opening chef, is a factor in your experience. I was surprised to hear that he'd left so soon after Fairsted's debut, as I thought he was a partner in the venture. His former sous chef, Jason Albus, has stepped into the exec chef role.

                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        It's a huge shame because I really am pulling for them. I like the team running the show. Steve has a solid knowledge of wine and I like the list he's putting together.

                        The bar program is really trying to be innovative (bottled cocktails, beer cocktails) and their preparations of standard cocktails are among the best in the area.

                        But, in the end, it's a restaurant first and the food needs to be figured out. Patrons nearby were less cordial with their comments about the food and one said "this place is like a bunch of guys with zero experience thought it would be fun to open a restaurant and it shows." Then a group of two women couldn't get a server (which I found funny because we had great service) and stormed out. muttering under their breath. Ouch.

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          We enjoyed most of the food we had at Fairstead. The lamb ribs were excellent, as was a new escargot dish. The escargot were the best prep of that dish I've had since the old Maison Robert, who encased the snails in garlic spinach inside of puff pastry. The croquettes were OK, as were the other dishes we had. The cocktails were top notch.

                          1. re: kimfair1

                            I really wanted to like them: like the room and the people seem very pleasant. I am among the minority that did not like my cocktail (could be my fault for what I chose so I'm not basing my review on that) but, more important, I found the food inconsistent: my friends shared the oxtail dish for two, which should have been bold and robust and was tame and boring. I had pasta that didn't match up to Ribelle's and our other dishes weren't as good as the lovely grilled black bass I just shared with my spouse at Washington Square Tavern. Between Ribelle, the Tavern, and Lineage, I just can't see a reason to leave my dollars here. I do wish them well.

                      2. i thought the drinks and the service were outstanding

                        1. Just another update. Had food with friends here last weekend. Said friends had been dying to try Fairsted so, rather than color it with my previous experiences, I decided "why not" and gave them another shot.

                          The food might have been even worse this time around.

                          Tuna carpaccio was oddly chewy, lukewarm, and covered with popped/burned wild rice (I think) that made for a very unpleasant combination.

                          Lamb ribs were the same as before: dry, cumin-y, and needed the fish sauce to inject moisture. Not well received by our friends but I thought they were decent. Was told this is their most popular dish.

                          Cod beignets were flavorful but incredibly heavy for a summer dish. They serve three large, fried balls of cod mixture and that's about 1 too many for two people...in February.

                          Duck fat potato cake was limp/anti-crispy, underseasoned, and wholly forgettable.

                          Gnocchi were not gnocchi. They were like dumplings in a less-than-flavorful mixture of peas, favas, and fiddleheads. Grainy (okay very grainy), a bit chewy. The worst dish of the night.

                          Hummus was passable but nothing worth ordering again. Addition of pine nuts was nice but did not make up for the lacking flavor in the hummus itself.

                          Chicken was good, again. Crisp skin, cooked properly. Sides were adequate.

                          To-date I've tried over 50% of the items on their current menu. Most were, at best, average and, at worst, inedible.

                          On a weekend it was, again, not close to capacity, even outside on a gorgeous evening. I fear very much for this restaurant. Loads of potential, but lacking a deft hand in the kitchen. The market is clearly taking notice as next door Barcelona is overflowing on a nightly basis while Fairsted stands about with a forlorn and quizzical look on their collective faces.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: QuakerInBoston

                            so sorry to hear this. When we were last there,for brunch,it seemed overpriced, and nothing said 'oooh, delish' and i also felt it unlikely that we would return. The co-owner/GM seemed such a dedicated and enthusiastic professional; i hope he can (get a new chef?) and turn this around. I do love that room.

                            1. re: QuakerInBoston

                              I wished them well (still do) but after two not stellar tries (see post above) I've scratched them off the list.