Loyal Nine, which opened in March in East Cambridge, draws inspiration from colonial New England cuisine. Boston Magazine's Corby Kummer reviewed the effect of this goal on chef/owner Marc Sheehan's menu, starting off with the thought: "No matter how much you love history, you run into trouble when you try to make people eat it."
Kummer thought the décor of the restaurant appeared unfinished (although the open kitchen is attractive) and the food uneven, but there's "real magic to be found as well."
A variety of seafood graces the menu at Loyal Nine, and Kummer noted the "inventive" use of items like periwinkle and whelks. He wrote that Sheehan's imagination and skill surface in his handling of local crops like cattle beans and that the bread from pastry chef Adam Ross is "startlingly good."
The "with hands" menu items are "skippable," according to Kummer, noting that the experience of stripping the Scituate sea beans with his teeth "felt a little too close to eating like an actual Pilgrim." Meanwhile, the small bites on the menu are irresistible: The deep-fried Jacob's cattle beans and the salt and vinegar chips "are as addictive as popcorn."
The entrees did not measure up to these appetizers, Kummer wrote, noting issues with "mealy and dry" roast chicken and "gristly" brisket, but there were some successes as well, like the braised lobster with hickory nuts and mead. And the fried clams in the pig-ear salad could "make the whole restaurant," he wrote.
Overall, Kummer found the bread and "Sheehan's way with a fry basket" enough to indicate "Loyal Nine's next evolution will be a good one—even if it isn't quite a revolution."
The supper club rooms "are stunning, a crazy-quilt fusion of Locke-Ober's handsome Victorian mahogany fixtures," he said. Beverage director Will Thompson has staffed the bars with "well-trained craft bartenders pouring beautifully presented drinks," like the Ladder District and the Miner's Club, and given Yvonne's nightclub-like trappings, this is a surprisingly serious, grownup beverage program," Slim wrote.
The chefs, Tom Berry and Juan Pedrosa, created an eclectic menu where "larger plates feel like better values."
"The kitchen consistently hits its vividly composed, crunchily accented vegetarian options out of the park," including the seared king trumpet mushrooms, kale and orzo salad, and corn and faro salad. Slim wrote that the lamb sausage flatbread pita also delivered, while the K.F.C. pita "undermines the key virtue of its Korean-style fried chicken."
Sharable dishes are the most dramatic, according to Slim, where the grilled "viper" chop is a head turner. He also said to "save room for Kate Holowchik's witty, fun desserts." According to Slim, Yvonne's may be "the most seductive It Girl to hit Boston in a long while, but hanging out with her ain't cheap."
With a bowl selection of hummus, grain, or salad — or a wrap — guests then pick a protein, toppings, and a dressing.
Julian wrote: "A particularly satisfying bowl starts with regular hummus, adds brown rice, lamb with chickpeas ($2.25 extra), beets, carrots, and spicy harissa dressing." The tender lamb could use more sauce, but Julian notes that the hummus was "lovely, as it should be in a place that uses the name."
The beet and red pepper hummus were "nicely done" although they "add more color than taste," but the falafel required such a slathering of hummus to combat the disappointing dryness. The meal comes with a whole-wheat pita. Everything at Tahaza is compostable, and "even fussy customers get to choose exactly what they like."