The clam bake is a must-have at Precinct. Credit: Derek Kouyoumjian
Set in the former Boston police HQ, which is now the Loews Boston Hotel, Precinct Kitchen + Bar has one of those menus that’s short and yet so well curated there’s too much to choose from. It’s the best kind of menu, but this finely honed list wasn’t the product of a couple of chef sit-downs, or even a couple of chefs. It took six of Loews Hotel’s head chefs and various managers to settle on a menu respectful of place without seeming touristy. Somewhere in all this there’s a too many cooks not spoiling this broth pun.
Chef Olivier Senoussaoui is the chef charged with pulling it all together in Boston. Alongside a handful of steak, chicken, and fish entrees, the Start section includes luscious burrata atop thick crostini, accompanied by a pesto of roasted peppers, almonds, pine nuts, basil, and mint, and also a salad of young tender kale and arugula on a bed of quinoa, finished with shaved feta and orange segments. Its fruity citrus vinaigrette holds up well to the verdant kale flavor without dumbing it down. Together, it’s a meal.
The menu is sensibly local oriented: oysters are East Coast culled; clams Wellfleet dug; and Boston Lager forms the base for the marinated PEI mussels. There is a clam bake — clams, mussels, shrimp, corn, red potato, and what is said to be local kielbasa, all oozing flavor to form a delicious broth— and there’s Boston cream pie, a custardy delight with a rich ganache, served potted rather than as the usual cake. But not to the point of parody: strawberries and cream riffs on strawberry shortcake adding brûléed brioche that crackles as you bite into it. Talk about candy coating it.
Loews Boston renovations including a sleek update for Precinct, which has three distinct areas: a sunken patio filled with loungers, an open-plan bar with dark wood shelving giving a distinguished library feel, and a dining room with an open kitchen and charcuterie station loaded with, it’s promised, locally-raised meats from family farms. The same menu is served throughout for lunch and dinner, and modified ones fill in for late evening or mid afternoon, and breakfast.
If you go Entrees: $24--$34. 154 Berkeley St., Boston. 617-532-3820. www.precinctkitchenandbar.com