In this month's Boston Magazine review, Corby Kummer dines at Cafe ArtScience, where, despite its origin story as something of a science experiment, he finds "a high-style French eatery serving meticulous, cosmopolitan dishes." The menu features "low-tech" dishes, like oysters with horseradish and granita, whose "very fine crystals melted [in] ... to create a magical balance of salt, hot pepper, and cool lemon in a modernist chef way — but one that required no modernism at all."
Juicy and artfully composed roast chicken sells Kummer on the cafe, but he finds a roasted pork loin to be tough and flavorless, and seafood dishes miss across the board. Desserts are "fun to look at and poke your spoon into" but also lack flavor. Kummer forgives the whimsy, though, as Cafe ArtScience exceeds his expectations for a restaurant beyond any gimmicks.
On the edge of Chinatown, Townsman earns two-and-a-half stars from the Boston Globe's Devra First. Based on a scientifically-sound personality quiz devised by the critic, First determines only "misanthropic shut-in[s] who shun food" (and probably vegetarians) will dislike the new restaurant. The dishes from chef Matt Jennings and his team "seduce on paper ... They often, if not always, taste as good as they sound." A highly recommended Amish farm hen has tender meat shielded by crisp skin and comes with a " black trumpet gravy you wouldn’t mind sipping on its own." Other dishes are well-composed, and First calls Sean Frederick's cocktails "eye candy."
But a few small plates are cold, bland, or otherwise imperfect, including a lamb crudo, which "barely reads as lamb." Townsman's Caesar salad suffers from "too many anchovies," the only such salad First has ever encountered. Meaty dishes prevail over the restaurant's attempt at lighter fare, and pork is done especially well, First writes. Pasta dishes are also great, but First laments a menu option no longer available, with snails and sausage. Desserts, like a buttermilk cheesecake that is "a few grains of sugar away from being a cheese plate," sing. The new restaurant is getting better each time she visits, says First.
And finally, a love letter. At Rifrullo Cafe in Brookline Village, Boston Globe food editor Sheryl Julian finds the exemplar of grilled cheese sandwiches that makes her "shake [her] head in wonder." The "enchanting" and "hip" spot opened at 147 Cypress St. in 2013, with a food aesthetic more sophisticated than its atmosphere. Homemade bread, one of the keys to the aforementioned grilled cheese, "is light and airy, [with] crust so crisp it’s a revelation." Julian recommends "inhaling" the Cypress, a sandwich with egg, avocado, cheddar, kale pesto, and bacon on brioche. Roast chicken being another winner at Rifrullo, chef Bobby Mendoza's is "deliciously lemony."
During a recent community prix-fixe dinner, all 18 seats in the restaurant are taken and the delight is palpable throughout the room, Julian writes. "Every bite on every plate is perfectly prepared." To close out her love letter, Julian confesses she and her husband once dreamed of opening a restaurant with a daily prix-fixe menu; Rifrullo owner Colleen Marnell-Suhanosky created their vision, she writes. "And beautifully, I might add."