Be it casual, posh or funky, a great restaurant's success is in providing a place to commune around inspiring food. Two very different restaurants recently celebrating their first year in business have that down: Both Newton's B Street and Jamaica Plain's Tres Gatos are small, neighborhood hangs with incredible kitchen know-how. Oh, and cool music, too.
Elli Kaplansky switched her Pie Cafe to B Street, a smart, warm-hued bistro with live music (mostly jazz). Music plays second fiddle to chef Scott Keith's beautifully balanced dishes, though. The menu might read as standard, but Keith is an artful hand at subtly accentuating such things as hummus (his is laced with pumpkin) or a duck confit flatbread (Keith delicately seasons it with gorgonzola cheese and brightens with fig jam) and reinvigorating them.
Over in Jamaica Plain, David Doyle turned his indie book and music emporium Rhythm & Muse into Tres Gatos Tapas Bar. He wisely kept the music and literature offerings; the venue is now a store within a restaurant where DJs spin, say, some Django Reinhardt. The restaurant centers around a bar and is cozy and soothing. Chef Marcos Sanchez offers nibble-sized pinchos and Spanish cheese and cured meats plates. His smartly arranged tapas are finessed combinations, such as a soft EVOO-poached tuna atop spicy mustard greens spiked with refreshing fennel. A warm, welcoming atmosphere counts for a lot, but B Street and Tres Gatos have their culinary endgame down too.
If you go
796 Beacon St., Newton
470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain