Loyal Nine opens its doors to the public tomorrow evening, Saturday, March 28, serving what it refers to as "East Coast Revival" cuisine — a historically-influenced menu that draws heavily from the northeastern United States coastline, from Maine down to Philadelphia, and plays with colonial concepts. The restaurant and its adjoining cafe are located in a former liquor store (and before that, a car dealership) at 660 Cambridge St. in the heart of East Cambridge.
The ownership team features an impressive collective resume — there's chef Marc Sheehan (Menton, Bondir, the Brasstacks pop-up, and New York's well-regarded Blue Hill at Stone Barns), Daniel Myers (the Hand Taste Collective pop-up and San Francisco's beloved State Bird Provisions), Rebecca Theris (Hungry Mother, Hand Taste Collective), and David Beller (Puritan & Co., Atwood's Tavern).
Sheehan's interest in this type of cuisine dates back to his late teens. "I started talking about the concept that I've essentially been working on since I was 19 years old," Sheehan told Eater in a 2013 interview, "which was a restaurant based very intensively on New England cuisine." At the time, he was hosting his Brasstacks pop-up series, which displayed some hints about what was to come eventually when he got his own place. "Not necessarily the Durgin Park recipes — which are great, they have awesome prime rib — but it's ubiquitous," he continued. "That's what people think New England food is and it's a tragedy in the sense that, there was this very rich, deep food culture — not unlike the food culture that has been preserved in the South — but it has just been forgotten."
The Loyal Nine menu aims to feature "lesser-known shellfish, vegetables, and meats," according to a press release. One dish, the Aroostook Savory Supper, is a layered potato, salt pork, and onion casserole.
On the beverage side, Merrill & Co. and Backbar alum Bryn Tattan is offering a list heavy in rum and brandy, traditional ciders, and some low-proof drinks as well as mocktails. Meanwhile, co-owner Theris, who also handmade all the pottery in the restaurant, is overseeing the wine list, offering bottles at $40, $60, and $60+ price points, along with by-the-glass and carafe options. As far as beer goes, it's "predominantly domestic" and "unique."
While the restaurant begins dinner service tomorrow, the adjacent cafe will likely open next Wednesday, April 1, at 8 a.m., offering coffee, tea, pastries, and snacks, including a breakfast sandwich. Customers can sit inside the main restaurant during cafe hours as well. And once weather and permitting allow, there will be a patio outside the cafe, which features a glass garage door.
The design of the restaurant is meant to "evoke the same energy as the colors, textures, and materials found along a rocky coastline," according to the release. There's plenty of wood throughout, including slats on part of the ceiling that are intended to look like a dock, and the walls are a sea-foam green. Another part of the ceiling features pressed tin, commonly found starting in the late 19th century. Theris' brothers helped build the tables, and the team collaborated with Blue Barn to source sustainable materials for the restaurant.