Winter Dining: Where to eat in Boston and sit by a cozy fireplace
The Fireplace in Brookline lives up to its name with a real, log-burning fireplace surrounded by several hearthside tables. Chef/owner Jim Solomon introduced warming flavors to his winter menu, too. An appetizer of mushrooms and natural ham in a creamy Madeira emulsion is poured over a crisped Johnny Cake made with cornmeal from Gray’s Grist Mill in Rhode Island, the home state of this pancake.
“Thyme and rosemary enrich the flavor and add aromatics,” says Solomon. “The type of mushrooms varies, based on what is available from Ben (the Mushroom Man) Malison. The Johnny Cake may be the hidden gem in this dish though.”
Chowder is the ultimate winter warmer. Solomon’s shrimp and fire-roasted tomato chowder is finished with New Hampshire-made bacon.
“The charred flavor of tomatoes and smoke from the bacon hit the spot on a cold day,” he says. Roasted fennel, red pepper, potatoes, and garlic are incorporated too. “A light chowder served piping hot is the goal,” says Solomon.
At the Capiz Lounge on the Waterfront, hearty soups pair with fireside tables. Chef Richard Garcia’s Littleneck Clam chowder starts with in-house smoked bacon, fresh clam juice and dry white wine for a piquant, less heavy base.
“We finish each soup to order and add fresh Cape Cod Surf Clams and cream to the base at the last minute to keep the clams tender,” says Garcia.
Garcia’s lobster minestrone is similarly finished with fresh cooked lobster and a Parmesan froth made from typically discarded Parmesan rinds.
“This is an ode to New England,” he says. “The base is a rich house-made lobster stock and we add Maine grown yellow eyed beans along with winter [vegetables like] kale, winter squash, turnips and Savoy cabbage.”
Spend a winter’s afternoon with Afternoon tea at The Mandarin Oriental, Boston’s pop-up Parlor, which is extended until the end of January. This modern, but nonetheless cozy fireplace forms a warming centerpiece to the open-plan lobby lounge, where pastry chef Oralia Perez’s tea “fancies” include spiced pear tart, dried fruit scone and gingerbread.
“These flavors and ingredients correspond with the season,” says Perez. “There’s a variety of spices that evoke feelings of comfort and warmth. … I enjoy creating winter desserts because they remind me of family and togetherness.”
Go for cake, or full afternoon tea, which includes one of everything. Or stop in for some heavenly hot chocolate.
At Local 149 in Southie, a couple of chef Leah Dubois’s winter dishes include jalapeno and add a little extra warmth to dining by their real log fire.
Try the sweet potato and ricotta dumplings with coconut cream sauce and the cider-braised short rib.
“It’s a fluffy naturally sweet dumpling, pan-seared to get a touch crispy,” says Dubois. “The coconut cream is enhanced with leeks and jalapeno. This vegetarian dish is finished with crispy shiitake mushrooms and cashew brittle. … The short rib is braised in apple cider, local pears, sage, onion, and jalapeno. The subtle spice of the jalapeno matches perfectly with the acidity and warming flavors of apple cider. We serve it with shredded potato hash and a sunnyside-up quail egg. It’s an elegant steak and eggs dinner.”
IF YOU GO
1634 Beacon St., Brookline 617-975-1900
606 Congress St., Boston 617-476-5606
149 P St., Boston
The Parlor at the
Mandarin Oriental, Boston
776 Boylston St., Boston