les sablons
Les Sablons in Cambridge is a semifinalist for the best new restaurant James Beard Award. Photo by Getty Images

Nestled inside Harvard Square's historic Conductor's Building, Les Sablons has quickly transformed the space into a must-stop destination for area foodies.

 

After opening its doors last spring, this Cambridge hotspot by chef Jeremy Sewall and renowned restaurateur Garrett Harker is now gaining national attention for its bold and modern take on classic French fare. Les Sablons was recently chosen as a 2018 James Beard Award semifinalist for best new restaurant, the Bay State's only contender in an extremely stacked category.

 

Although there's always a bit of added pressure to perform that comes with winning an accolade like a James Beard Award, Sewall tells Metro that taking home the honor would mean a lot to him and his team.

 

"It's always special when you get acknowledged at that level in that way," he says. "It raises the bar for the expectations for the guests and for the staff."

 

Sewall reveals that Les Sablons has given him a chance to "stretch some culinary muscles" he hasn't been able to use in recent years while working on other ventures. Feautring a stylish bar and lounge on the first floor, with an elegant dining area and bar on the second floor, the decorated chef admits that the beautiful space is what inspired him to go back to his European-style roots.

 

"You don't get restaurant space like that in Boston or Cambridge that often," Sewall says. "We felt like there was an opportunity to create something that didn't exist in the area."

In addition to Les Sablons, Harker, the restaurant's co-owner, is up for a James Beard Award as well. The mastermind behind establishments like Row 34, Island Creek Oyster Bar and Eastern Standard is nominated in the Outstanding Restaurateur category alongside fellow local Ken Oringer.

After working with Harker on so many projects over the years, Sewall praises his partner for always putting together amazing teams.

"Part of our enjoyment is watching the people around us grow and develop," Sewall says. "We love working on all this stuff together and watching all the people around us be successful."

Since dozens of other restaurants, chefs and culinary stars from Boston and New England have also been nominated as James Beard Award semifinalists, Sewall is extremely proud to see how the area's food scene has exploded since he first started working here in the early '90s.

"It's become a city where you can spend your entire culinary career," Sewall says. "The diversity of restaurants now and the diversity of talent, it's amazing."

If you go:

2 Bennett St., Cambridge, lscambridge.com