Staying in a hotel on holiday means eating in isn’t an option. Lucky for you, local chefs offer awesome alternatives to TV dinner-style fare with these elevated takes on common comfort food.
Yankee Pot Roast at Henrietta’s Table
What’s better than sliced beef in gravy with buttered corn and whole potatoes served in an aluminum tin 1950s’ style? So much. So, so much. A delicious modern take on that TV dinner—which was actually an uninspired "quick-meal" version of a regional New England dish—can be relished at Chef Peter Davis’ farm-to-table, Harvard Square hangout, Henrietta’s Table. “Pot roast is an old New England classic and has remained on our menu since opening,” he says. “We often thought that sales would slow down in warmer months, but they have not. It’s just one of those dishes that our guests return for time and time again.”
1 Bennett St., Cambridge, MA, 617.661.5005
Savory Pies at Park
PARK Restaurant & Bar puts a meaty spin on the chicken potpie of yesteryear. Grafton Group culinary director Mark Goldberg’s 21st-century rendition changes by the day and per his whim—think beef Wellington with spinach and mushroom roux or a mashed-potato-topped lamb shepherd’s pie. “What I love most is that even though the filling is ever-rotating, it always features flaky pastry, seasonal vegetables and braised meats,” says Goldberg. “For me, anything that showcases effort, love and caring in preparation fits the definition of comfort food.”
59 JFK St., Cambridge, MA, 617.491.9851
Schnitzel at Bronwyn
Among the flavorful spatzle, sauerbraten and pierogi on the menu at Union Square’s resident Central European restaurant, schnitzel is a standout of Tim Wiechmann’s cultural and culinary repertoire. “Schnitzel is crispy, buttery and juicy, and can be served in so many different ways,” effuses the chef-owner. Not to mention, Wiechmann’s version is a far cry from a frozen German-style dinner. “At Bronwyn, we’re currently serving it with an apple-bacon cream sauce. What can be more comforting than that?”
255 Washington St., Somerville, MA, 617.776.9900
Mac and Cheese at Stephanie’s on Newbury
"Our mac and cheese is creamy, cheesy goodness,” says Stephanie Sokolove, the owner of the perennially popular Stephanie's On Newbury restaurant. “It’s the ultimate comfort food classic and has been on the menu since day one.” That was 22 years ago and patrons are still lining up for the calorie-laden, bread-crumb-topped dish.
190 Newbury St., Boston, MA, 617.236.0990
Fish and Chips at Island Creek Oyster Bar
You haven’t experienced Boston unless you’ve finger-licked this fresh, regional staple. At ICOB, “beer-battered local white fish is served with malt vinegar aioli, lemon, hand-cut fries and homemade coleslaw,” says chef and partner Jeremy Sewall. “It is salty [and] crispy, and I think it is comfort food because it is a familiar dish that many people can identify—a humble dish that is served in many versions from road side clam shacks to the finest of dining.”
500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA, 617.532.5300
Meatloaf Club at Parish Cafe
"I had nine kids in my family, and I grew up poor," says Sean Simmons, chef-owner of Parish Cafe. "My mother made meatloaf a lot." Parish Cafe's signature meatloaf club sandwich has been on the menu for 15 years, and the restaurant sells loads of them, served with mashed potatoes and gravy. "It's definitely comfort food," he says, "comfort food with spice! There are chipotle peppers mixed into the meat, and chipotle mayo spread on top."
361 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 617.247.4777
Nightly Roasts at Loyal Nine
Marc Sheehan’s new-ish spot puts forth what he calls “East Coast revival” cuisine, which basically means using time-tested methods to roast meat and cook other rustic New England region recipes. “Growing up, my family generally had a Sunday supper that involved a roast as well as sides,” reminisces Sheehan. “It was one of my favorite meals of the week. The act of eating those meals, a cut of meat being carved, sides getting pass around, that’s how I love to eat and how we love to have our guests eat.” We’re not talking a simple roasted turkey here. At Loyal Nine, the protein changes daily and can run the gamut from Ossabaw pork racks to suckling veal shanks to bluefish heads. Slow cooked, super flavorful and served with two sides.
660 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA, 617.945.2576