With New England's forested canopies, wild game, iconic fruits and gourds, this four-season region is a smorgasbord of fresh and local with which chefs can create, and come fall, boy do they! Get your taste at these eight Boston-area restaurants.
Kirkland Tap & Trotter
On the outskirts of Harvard’s campus, diners hear the call of The Kirkland Tap & Trotter, James Beard best chef Tony Maws’ new outpost that serves up the elevated cooking foodies adore at his famous fine French restaurant Craigie on Main, only Kirkland does it less formally. Diners who manage to snag a seat in the convivial dining room order up plates meant for sharing, like house-made spaghetti with chicken liver and pumpkin and the sausage-studded choucroute garni with pork belly. Order a cocktail—like the luscious Santa Rosa—and definitely order dessert. The grilled cornbread pain perdu with raspberry compote is a sure bet for this season.
425 Washington St., Somerville, MA, 857.259.6585, kirklandtapandtrotter.com
Towne Stove & Spirits
Big changes this season over at Towne Stove & Spirits in the Back Bay, where Mark Allen has replaced Lydia Shire in the kitchen, offering a decidedly more casual, comfortable feel. As expected, Allen has revamped the menu, and we've got a few picks for dishes that reflect fall: namely, the moist, double-cut Kurobuta pork chop with a side of roasted apples in a honey-grain mustard glaze, and the pumpkin bisque with cinnamon mascarpone.
900 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 617.247.0400, towneboston.com
Island Creek Oyster Bar
With the intention of connecting diner to grower and harvester, Island Creek Oyster Bar opened in 2011 featuring way more than just oysters. Case in point, chef Jeremy Sewall’s decadent lobster roe noodles with short rib, a land-meets-sea mélange of grilled lobster (plucked from York Harbor, Maine, by Sewall’s cousin, a local lobsterman), meaty braised short rib, shiitake mushrooms and pecorino Romano atop fettuccine made of lobster eggs. Also try the butternut squash soup with brown butter and lobster knuckles, or for a more of a crunch, the hand-dug Ipswich fried clams.
500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA, 617.532.5300, islandcreekoysterbar.com
Puritan & Company
Sourcing ingredients fresh off the local farm is a priority for chef Will Gilson, who serves up modern American fare in the kitchen of Puritan & Company. Accordingly, the menu changes often to capture the best of the season, but it is built for sharing; one might try a pork and herb rillette or the cheddar gougeres at dinner, and the new New England Sunday brunch is a must—on the dining room’s large provisions table, find a la carte dishes from red flannel hash with farm eggs to organic griddle cakes with maple and honey butter.
1166 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA, 617.615.6195, puritancambridge.com
Bistro du Midi
Melding regional ingredients with Provençal inspiration, chef Robert Sisca of Bistro du Midi whips up flavorful, modern dishes in this two-level fine French restaurant that overlooks the Public Garden. Reserve a seat at the Chef's Table 100 for a five or seven course tasting menu that changes by the night and features dishes that haven't yet reached the regular dining room—think poached Maine lobster and native corn cappuccino with pine nut foam. Or, warm up with a bowl of celery root soup laced with chestnuts, earthy black trumpet mushrooms, sharp Parmesan and fragrant, citrus bergamot, in the more casual, all-day café downstairs.
272 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 617.426.7878, bistrodumidi.com
Contemporary yet rustic, Catalyst serves up an atmosphere that is very much in line with its modern, American, locally-sourced food. Which includes wild and farm-raised animals that chef-owner and New England native William Kovel puts into delicious preparations like the roasted venison loin with maple-glazed kuri squash, braised red cabbage and currant jus.
300 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA, 617.576.3000, catalystrestaurant.com
Plaid armchairs and dapper, drawn artwork are fitting for this restaurant that resides in Harvard Square, just step from The Yard. The sub-JFK Street-level spot features hearty eats and is known to locals for its ever changing selection of savory meat pies. This fall, to celebrate the statistically rare alignment of the first day of Hanukkah with Thanksgiving, Chef Mark Goldberg offers his unique “Thanksgivukkah” meat pie, stuffed full of cider-braised turkey thigh, local squash and caramelized apples, replacing the traditional pie crust cap with a crispy sweet potato latke and tart cranberry relish.
59 JFK St., Cambridge, MA, 617.491.9851, parkcambridge.com
And, last but not least, let’s talk dessert. Five-star L’Espalier, chef Frank McClelland's pinnacle of fine French cuisine often gets its produce from McClelland's own farm, a short drive from Boston. If the wallet can afford the hit, this place is well worth a visit for its multi-course prix-fixe and tasting menus, as well as its cheese program. But even with all that eating L'Espalier doesn’t hold back when it comes to the last bite. This fall, pastry chef Jared Bacheller plates up his signature, beguiling presentation of candy cap mushroom parfait with maple-roasted walnuts and cardamom mascarpone ice cream.
774 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 617.262.3023, lespalier.com