Extraordinary | Excellent
Good | Fair | (No stars) Poor
MENTON 354 Congress St., Boston. 617-737-0099. Chef Barbara Lynch brings finest dining to Fort Point. Menton is modern yet lavish, refined and formal and beyond expensive. The food is not night-and-day different from that at Lynch’s No. 9 Park — it is lovelier and lighter, turned a few degrees more toward the sea. It’s the show you’re paying for, as an army of servers skillfully builds the illusion that any wish you make can be granted. The service is what makes Menton work, what makes Menton worth its price, even if only for one crazy night.
BERGAMOT 118 Beacon St., Somerville. 617-576-7700. Dishes here meld classic technique and creativity: halibut with cicely sauce; plantain gnocchi with black beans; pork tenderloin with sweet-and-sour eggplant, chicharron, and shishito pepper puree. The staff makes each exchange and each bite matter. This is a restaurant that sets out to be good to people, to serve them deliciously and charge them reasonably, to make them feel cared for and comfortable. The food is often playful, the atmosphere relaxed. But the hospitality is serious. It all combines to make Bergamot a place you want to eat. Soon. And then again.
ROWES WHARF SEA GRILLE Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston. 617-856-7744. Boston lacks great seafood restaurants on the water. Rowes Wharf Sea Grille gets the location right, and sometimes the food. Stick with lighter fare such as oysters, hamachi crudo, and cod empanadas and you will be pleased. The patio’s a beauty with a view, and the service is very good. But fish is often overcooked, sides are bland, and on one occasion the chowder is curdled.
RUSSELL HOUSE TAVERN 14 JFK St., Cambridge. 617-500-3055. Here, chef Michael Scelfo serves up the old proverbial something for everyone. There is pizza and beer. There are inventive small plates and cocktails. There are oysters and steaks and bottles of wine. Nothing is overly expensive. The bilevel space is large, the game is on if you want it, the sparkling new bistro decor is stylish enough without being pretentious. There is a patio. It’s just the place Harvard Square needed.
PARSONS TABLE 34 Church St., Winchester. 781-729-1040. Catch chef Chris Parsons closed his seafood restaurant earlier this year, then reopened the space as Parsons Table. Good call. This is the restaurant Winchester has been waiting for. Seafood is still a strong presence, but Parsons Table offers a more general menu of well-made, ingredient-driven comfort food. This isn’t a novel concept these days, but Parsons shows us how it should be done. His cooking is top-notch.
LEGAL C BAR Legacy Place, 950 Providence Highway, Dedham. 781-234-6500. This Legal Sea Foods spinoff is an amalgam of things that are officially trendy: small plates, casual dining, craft cocktails. Located in Dedham’s Legacy Place, it opened at the end of December (there’s another branch in Logan Airport), clearly aiming at 20- and 30-somethings. The surprise is that this bid for hipness actually works. The place is modern and well designed, with good cocktails and decent food. For Dedham, it’s a great addition, as you can see from the crowds.