UPDATE, 7/18: Banyan opens to the public tonight (Saturday) at 5 p.m.
Banyan Bar + Refuge, the expansive Asian fusion project from the Gallows and Blackbird Doughnuts team, welcomed family and friends last night, social media reveals. Its public debut is gloriously imminent: A glowing reviewer on Facebook advised checking out the South End spot when it opens "this weekend."
On its official accounts and website, Banyan hasn't announced when it officially opens, but this weekend is right on target for the team, who have pinpointed mid-July as the time.
Banyan takes over Hamersley's Bistro on Tremont Street, but don't expect a nostalgic return to the landmark spot. The restaurant was largely gutted, revamped, and redecorated; the open kitchen is the only holdover from its previous incarnation, sneak previews in the Improper Bostonian and the Dig reveal. Hand-assembled installations of banyan tree branches, "reptile-green leather booths," and natural woodwork are some of the design highlights, the Dig reports.
The menu isn't yet posted on Banyan's website, but there are a couple glimpses of some of chef Phillip Tang's dishes, including a fried oyster bun and a red braised pork bun. It won't be all small plates, though. Tang, who is known for his kitchen leadership at the departed noodle house East by Northeast, said he is excited about the opportunity for guests to have a variety of dining experiences with the 50-plus item menu. "This is just a free for all. We can do whatever we want. The freedom of space here is great," he told the Dig.
There is a six-seat raw bar overlooking the open kitchen. Other dishes will include charred broccoli rabe in smoked oyster sauce and crispy garlic; pork wontons in a spicy sesame sauce; and shareable platters of Korean barbecue, fried chicken, and a Southeast Asian-influenced sausage. Get ready to try a lot more sake, too — the restaurant has single-serving formats.