Soon, Newtonians will get a new restaurant in a familiar space, from familiar faces. Dave Punch — the chef and owner of popular Newton Centre joints Sycamore and Little Big Diner — and business partner Shane Smyth intend to open Buttonwood in the longtime 51 Lincoln space (51 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands) sometime this fall. 51 Lincoln closed in June 2016 after more than a decade.
Punch says that he wanted to open a restaurant that used the same quality ingredients he uses in his other restaurants but that was also more approachable for the whole family.
“Sycamore has become a little more of an adult hangout,” says Punch. “Of course we welcome kids, but we want Buttonwood to really be the kind of neighborhood restaurant where everyone feels included. We want it to be a bit more affordable, and we want the food to be a little more rustic.”
One thing Buttonwood and big sibling Sycamore have in common: the name. Buttonwood is another name for a sycamore tree.
Punch says he’s not exactly sure what the menu will look like because the opening date is too far out, and he couldn’t speculate on what might be fresh in a few months.
“Because we cook so seasonally, it would be challenging to write a menu before we have a start date,” he says. “Oh, we start on this day? Cool, we’ll cook this, then.”
Punch did say that the restaurant will likely feature a preserves and spreadables section. “Simple things you can put on toast — salt cod brandade, pork rillettes.”
He said that there will also be a focus on grilled meat and fish and that the menu will feature a solid selection of side dishes to pair with various proteins.
“We want there to be a more family-style vibe at Buttonwood.”
Punch hired chef Francisco Millan — formerly of Row 34 — to helm the kitchen.
“He’s a very talented kid, and we’re very excited about having him.”
The team also includes managers Julia Bailey of Sycamore and Matt O’Keefe of Redd’s in Rozzie, per Boston Magazine.
Buttonwood will feature 10 draft lines, and Punch figures eight or nine of them will be for beer while one will be for the house cocktail, though he didn’t say what that would be.
Though “late fall” is when he’d like to open, Punch didn’t give a firm date.
“Hopefully late October or early November, but that’s the toughest question to answer. I’ve done five openings now, and none of them ever open when you want them to.”
• Team Behind Sycamore and Little Big Diner to Open Buttonwood in Former 51 Lincoln Space in Newton Highlands [BRT]
• Bring the Kids to Buttonwood; Plus, CAVA Comes North [BG]
• The Sycamore Team Is Opening Buttonwood With Chef Francisco Millan [BM]
• Buttonwood [FB]