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BLUE GINGER 583 Washington St., Wellesley. 781-283-5790. Blue Ginger, Ming Tsai's ever-popular Wellesley restaurant, recently turned 10. The restaurant just underwent a renovation and expansion, and it now has three large private rooms, a lounge, and a bar. Although the space looks different, eating in the dining room at Blue Ginger today tastes a lot like eating there 10 years ago. Many of the original dishes are still here, though the classic sake-miso Chilean bass has morphed into eco-friendlier Alaskan butterfish. What really feels new at Blue Ginger is the lounge menu. The dishes are smaller, lighter, brighter in flavor. It's as if instead of opening a second, more casual restaurant, Tsai simply incorporated it into the original. The dining room dishes are Blue Ginger's bread and butterfish, but it was time for some fresh material. There's something to be said for classic. There's also something to be said for change.
ESTRAGON 700 Harrison Ave., Boston. 617-266-0443. Estragon has serious tapas bona fides. It's co-owned by Lara Gavigan and Julio de Haro, the Madrid native formerly of Brookline favorite Taberna de Haro. On the menu, you'll find plenty of Spanish classics, but also the likes of sea urchin and foie gras sliders. And then there are the garbanzos fritos, a.k.a. chickpea crack. These deep-fried legumes have extraordinary addictive powers. The restaurant is pleasantly low-key, which makes it a good place to come when you don't want to deal with the scene at that other tapas bar down the street. Estragon's growing crowds prove there's room for twice the tapas in the South End.
YACHT STARSHIP Adjacent to the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, corner of Summer Street and Drydock Avenue, South Boston. 877-744-7999. This dining yacht, new to Boston, makes much of its three-diamond rating from AAA, and the food is much better than it needs to be. That is to say, it's a notch above wedding food but a notch below many non-floating restaurants. It's lovely to float along, taking in familiar landmarks from a different vantage point. But at 2 1/2 hours, the trip is too short to really accommodate both dining and yachting.
TOWNSEND'S 81 Fairmount Ave., Hyde Park. 617-333-0306. I went to this great restaurant in Hyde Park the other day. That's right, Hyde Park, not a neighborhood known for its restaurants. Residents Michael and Rosaleen Tallon, the team behind the former Kendall Cafe, opened Townsend's in April. The space has dark wood, warm colors, a spiffy little bar, and a stone fireplace; chef Stephen Hoddinott turns out approachable, expert renditions of classic Irish pub food. Twenty beers on tap and nearly 40 bottled complete the picture. Risking the mirth of certain Hyde Park old-timers, I will hereby apply the term "gastropub" to the place.