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Ma Maison, Mala Restaurant, and BISq, Reviewed

The critics had a lot to eat — and say — this week.

Chris Coe for Eater Boston

Chef Jacky Robert's new home, Ma Maison in Beacon Hill, is "quaint and cute" and "feels much like an actual bistro in France," Boston Globe critic Devra First writes. But there are a few unforgivables noted in her 1.5-star review. "There is work to be done to put this house in order." A few dishes don't arrive as advertised, including the Boston Celtics salad without kelp, and "'duck confit wrapped in kimchee' ... [turns] out to be a deflated parcel of flavorless meat bits bundled into one leaf of pickled cabbage." Seafood dishes and others deliver uneven quality, too.

Steak frites is "a spot-on rendition." Crispy, creamy, half-moon potatoes are served with a peppercorn sauce that "heightens enjoyment when applied with discretion." Dessert souffles, "eggy puffs of sweetness and light," also hit the right notes.

In Allston, a Sichuan eatery lives up to its name. Mala delivers heat, writes Globe reviewer Catherine Smart in this week's Cheap Eats column. Mala hot pot is big enough to share, "a massive bowl of fire-engine red broth teeming with chiles and Sichuan peppercorns." A whole fish comes in a similar broth with thick, clear noodles and baby bok choy; it's "impressive for tilapia ... [with] sweet white flesh that soaks up the electric-charged mala flavor." Hand-pulled noodles, though, "are suspiciously thin and uniform."

For the Improper Bostonian, critic MC Slim JB visits one of the north-of-the-river "second-act openings (Kirkland, Sarma and Ames Street/Study) that skew even more casual," BISq, from the Bergamot team. "It’s another in a line of gifted Camberville kids that should rightly make their elder siblings proud."

Small plates are a welcome beginning: Dishes "elevat[e] elemental flavors with high-craft touches." Charcuterie is rightfully a big focus, featuring "superb" spreads and more. A dining bar has seats that "entertainingly" overlook the charcuterie station, too. Mains are often hits, but the accoutrements served along with the bone marrow are "a rare bit of kitchen overkill." Desserts, including a "charcuterie" board with chocolate salami and muddy buddies (yes, muddy buddies), are "fabulous."

Mala Restaurant

129 Brighton Avenue, , MA 02134 (617) 254-1839 Visit Website


1071 Cambridge Street, , MA 02139 (617) 714-3693 Visit Website

Ma Maison

, 1, Aichi 464-0804 052-781-6562 Visit Website