First, grab a drink. Metro Boston contributor Luke O'Neil visits Loyal Nine, where he finds a "muscular" cocktail list that is balanced with delicate touches, like rum and brandy drinks served in unique glassware on cut fabric coasters. Bar manager Bryn Tattan tells O'Neil the East Cambridge restaurant is going for cohesiveness among the kitchen, bar, and bakery; that is demonstrated in the savory, bright Flying Nun, a drink combining bourbon, citrus, hot sauce, a touch of scotch, and black walnut brine from the kitchen. Loyal Nine's version of a negroni, its Grafoni, is "crisp and sparkling." O'Neil writes that Sheets Aren't Made, the restaurant's riff on Between the Sheets, is "emblematic of the spirituous focus" of the bar program, with Calvados apple brandy, Barbecourt rum, Clement Créole Shrubb, Dolin Blanc dry vermouth and Angostura bitters. Loyal Nine will also focus on Madeira, and the fortified Portuguese wine shows up with brandy, maraschino liquor, strawberry syrup, and lemon in the Fine Girl.
At Asia Mei's new Moonshine 152 in South Boston, the Boston Globe's Devra First finds a "comfortable, unpretentious spot that accommodates many tastes." A smoked shrimp dip is an "excellent, ... creamy spill." The rounds of omelet present in Moonshine 152's version of a sushi bar staple, which also features crisp rice croquettes and charred shishito peppers, could have had more flavor, First notes. The Korean tacos, which Mei featured on the menu at Franklin Southie when she was chef at Moonshine's former tenant, "has surprising finesse for something so messy," and are well-balanced. A baked halloumi cheese has a nice flavor, but a strange texture, with pickled strawberries, harissa cashews, and pea tendrils. First calls the char siu roast pork "the kind of simple, pleasing dish that becomes a regular order." Rich and spicy, a golden flounder filet is one of the best items on the menu, First says. For dessert, there's a bacon brownie sundae — First must return with "more intestinal fortitude" before trying that dish.
Boston Globe writer Catherine Smart headed up to Burlington to find a truly hidden gem in Chettinad Grill. The South Indian restaurant opened in February, and features spicy, light fare from chef Bala Arumugam's homeland. Anhdra goat dum biryani is deceptively spicy. The rice is coated in spices and has bits of goat meat, and its heat catches up. Smart enjoyed tastes of sweet mango lassi on the side to tone it down. On Saturdays and Sundays, the restaurant offers a lunch buffet featuring dishes that aren't on the albeit extensive regular menu, like a bright green yucca curry and idli 65, "bright red, supremely addictive fried rice/lentil-bread cakes." In general, Smart assesses Chettinad Grill does bread very well. Garlic naan, a standby for local Indian food consumers, is unusually crisp with a nice chew at the Burlington restaurant. The reviewer advises not overlooking Chettinad's Indo-Chinese menu items; cauliflower fritters (Gobi Manchurian main) lead Smart and her dining companions to overeat. Being full did not stop Smart from sampling a "beautiful, very sweet" dessert unlike any she'd ever had before of sweetened condensed milk, floral ice cream, pistachios, and chia seeds.
And finally, The Improper's MC Slim JB tried out Brewer's Fork, Charlestown's new spot for craft beer and rustic dining. One the small plates side of thing, Slim finds plenty of cured meats, which makes sense, given Brewer's Fork's chef/owner John Paine's pedigree as a Moody's Delicatessen alum. There are also "properly-shucked oysters." The smoked bluefish plate here is "gentler" than other local offerings of the fish, which is refreshing served with radishes and celery leaves. The cheddar ale soup offers "surprising lightness of body," and features sliced apples and Moody's kielbasa. A cured, raw beef salad offers deep-flavored beef with fresh herbs, peanuts, foraged mushrooms, a tangy black garlic vinaigrette, and "mayo made luscious with schmaltz." With a wood-fired oven, Neapolitan-style pizza is the Brewer's Fork's game. The crust has chew and char, and the toppings are fresh and "clear-flavored." The white clam pizza is well-balanced, and a mushroom pie is "sublime" with "otherworldly-looking foraged mushrooms." Plus, there 30 unique draft beers and a bar staff with "encyclopedic enthusiasm."