Ostra opened last month in the former Avila space in Back Bay, boasting high-end specialty seafood dishes from local sources as well as abroad. Eater checked in with executive chef Mitchell Randall, formerly of sister restaurant Mistral, on how the first month has been and what lies ahead.
Congratulations on the new restaurant and your first month in! What have been the highlights of the first thirty days from your perspective?
I think the best part is all of the really unique fish that we get to work with. We're getting it directly from the pier, and we're getting things like scup and ocean perch that other restaurants aren't necessarily using, which is really cool. Our kitchen staff is really excited to be working with these different kinds of fish, and our guests are happy to see them on the menu. So far, we've gotten really great feedback. Seafood is definitely my passion, so this is just a great fit for me, and I'm really excited to be here.
[Photo: Meg Jones Wall]
Tell me about the menu concept in general. Any early favorites?
Chef/owner Jamie [Mammano] really wanted to bring higher-end seafood to Boston. We have our own fishmonger, and he's on the pier every day, picking out the best seafood. That's been so inspiring. It's a very fish-forward menu, but we do much lighter preparations and with Mediterranean flavors and influences. This really highlights the seafood. Since the beginning, we've had the grilled sea bream, which is from Greece and is wrapped in trevisano leaf, which is similar to radicchio.
We made this at Mistral as well, and it was a winner from the beginning. It's my favorite dish that's on the menu and has been for the guests. Our menu really is constantly evolving based on what seafood is the best. The oysters have pretty much stayed the same, all from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Our menu will constantly evolve, but we'll always have our staples and dishes that are our most popular. Every day has just been so memorable, and it's been really cool to see the menu evolve and to watch everyone here become a team. It's a beautiful restaurant, and we've got a great staff. We're really lucky.
[Photo: Meg Jones Wall]
Any big surprises or challenges so far?
It's been pretty smooth, actually. We're working with a professional staff, so everyone's been really great, and there really haven't been many challenges.
What's coming up for you guys as you look forward to the next couple of months?
Our private room is opening, and we're starting to get bookings for it in February. In the private room, we're going to be doing seated dinners for about 40 and cocktail receptions for 70. The room itself has the same decor as our dining room, but we're going to do a lot of really cool shellfish presentations, and it will have a great new menu. We also have a piano coming in February, and we'll have live music seven nights a week in the lounge, so that will be great. There aren't too many local restaurants with the live music every night, so we're all really excited about that. Other than that, I'm really looking forward to deepening our relationships with our fishmongers at the pier and getting to work with many new and exotic types of fish.