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Rack of boar at Erbaluce
Rack of boar at Erbaluce
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

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The Saddest Restaurant Closures of 2018: Erbaluce, Townsman, and More

Local food writers mourn the year’s shuttered spots

As is Eater’s annual tradition, we’re closing out 2018 by surveying local food writers (including our own staff and contributors) on various restaurant-related topics, and we’re publishing their responses in these final days of the year. Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comment section below, or hop into our Facebook group to discuss — we’ll post a thread for each survey question.

Keep an eye on the Year in Eater page for other stories in this series.

Up next: What was the saddest closure of 2018? (See the 2017 responses here.)


MC Slim JB, restaurant critic for The Improper Bostonian:

“There are a bunch of places I long enjoyed and will miss: Sultan’s Kitchen (excellent Turkish lunch spot in the Financial District), Morse Fish (one of the last Victorian-era businesses in the South End, a fine little fish market and counter-service restaurant), Hungry Traveler (a little hideaway of a diner near Government Center that had off-menu Korean specialties), Masona Grill (a sweet West Roxbury indie neighborhood restaurant from longtime chef/owner Manny Sifnugel), Les Sablons (a rare failure from Garrett Harker and company that had carved a lovely pair of rooms out of an impossibly narrow Harvard Square building, and served fancy food with great flair), Brasserie Jo (a really useful, long-running French/Alsatian bistro in the Colonnade Hotel), and as I have mentioned several times in these year-end interviews, Erbaluce, the Bay Village indie in which Chuck Draghi and Joan Johnson lovingly served up absolutely brilliant Piemontese cuisine and Northern Italian wines for 11 years. Their closing breaks my heart and makes me really angry at the same time, as I put a lot of the blame on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for its antiquated control of Boston’s liquor licensing system.”


Jacqueline Cain, deputy food editor at Boston magazine:

“It remains to be seen how they will return under new ownership, but I will miss the Tam and Sully’s Tap as I knew them. I’m sad to think that Boston could soon be devoid of real, old-school dive bars. There are a lot of bars that are, objectively, better than the Tam was — and innumerable places to order an ice-cold ‘Gansett — but the absolute lack of pretension, low prices, familiar faces, and decades of memories within their walls made them irreplaceable.

It really stinks that chef David Punch’s five-month-old Newton restaurant, Buttonwood, had to close just after Memorial Day, following an electrical fire. Looking forward to its return in early 2019.

Crema Cafe was a vestige of a Harvard Square I first loved.

Erbaluce’s impending NYE closure, because the reason why is just disappointing. It’s a beloved institution, located in a building that was bought by a new developer who wants to renovate (and have a restaurant there), but for the mom-and-pop business, taking a hiatus for construction would require giving up its city-owned liquor license, which it can’t afford to do.”


Jolyon Helterman, contributing editor/food writer at Boston magazine:

“This one’s just crushing: Erbaluce, slated to close at the end of the year. When it opened in 2008, it took me longer than most people to truly get the quirky brilliance of Charles Draghi’s gorgeously lyrical, dogmatically cranky take on deep-tracks Piemontese. But once I did, I was hooked. I’d become such a regular, in fact, that for the last several years I officially recused myself from the Italian category in the magazine’s annual Best of Boston issue. The wild-boar meatballs. The razor clams in green-peppercorn brodo. The dream-haunting carbonara! Absolutely anything undergirded by the house-made lobster stock and its full-tilt ocean funk. It’ll be a devastating loss.”


Eric Twardzik, contributor to The Food Lens, Boston.com, and more:

“I was bummed to see Les Sablons close after such a short time on the market. Fortunately, the fine hospitality from Garrett Harker and Jackson Cannon can be found at Eastern Standard.”


Marc Hurwitz, founder of Boston’s Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk, restaurant critic for Dig Boston, and more:

Strip-T’s in Watertown. I was one of their earliest regulars, going there back when it was completely unknown but so, so great, and it just feels weird not having it there anymore.”


J.Q. Louise, blogger at http://jqlouise.com and food writer at the Boston Herald:

“The day I walked down Newbury Street and saw Snappy Sushi closed was a sad day. I’ll miss their people-watching-friendly patio!”


Sam Hiersteiner, contributor to the Boston Globe and more:

Townsman. Matt Jennings will no doubt continue to be an important part of Boston and the national restaurant fabric, no doubt, but the scene is poorer without him in a kitchen.”


Dana Hatic, associate editor of Eater Boston:

“Gosh, we had a spate of sad closures this year, the most recent including Crema Cafe and Tealuxe in Harvard Square. It’s hard seeing places that have been around for such a long time (like the Daily Catch in Seaport) closing because leases end, rather than the owners deciding it’s time.”


Terrence B. Doyle, reporter for Eater Boston:

“OK, I’m cheating a bit here because they haven’t closed yet. But the announcement that KO Pies will close in 2019 was pretty devastating.”


Rachel Leah Blumenthal, editor of Eater Boston:

“I won’t bother describing how sad Erbaluce’s impending closure is because writers who know the place much better than I do already did so eloquently above; I’ll just say that I wish I had gone there years ago instead of keeping it on my to-do list forever and not actually making it over there until after I heard it was closing. L’Espalier, too, was one of those classics that I always meant to go to but now won’t get the chance. (And the only reason no one else mentioned it above is because I asked for responses to this survey before the closure was announced. News of Shepard’s closure also came out too late for the other writers to consider here; I will miss it. This has been a bad week for closures.)

Other recently closed classics I missed the boat on, embarrassingly: I never had a regular meal at Tremont 647, only attended a couple of events there over the years, and I never made it to the Chestnut Hill location of Oishii. Tupelo, too. Don’t ignore the older restaurants, folks.

Other 2018 closures that made me sad: Townsman; a number of Bertucci’s and Papa Gino’s locations (I’m a Massachusetts kid); Doretta Taverna; Strip-T’s.

Chef Brendan Pelley’s 100-layer spinach pie at Doretta
Chef Brendan Pelley’s 100-layer spinach pie at Doretta
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Oishii Sushi Bar

612 Hammond St, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 (617) 277-7888 Visit Website

Les Sablons

2 Bennett St., Cambridge, MA 02138 (617) 268-6800 Visit Website

Erbaluce

69 Church Street, , MA 02116 (617) 426-6969 Visit Website

Townsman

120 Kingston Street, Boston, MA 02111 (617) 993-0750 Visit Website

Tupelo

1337 Grant Avenue, , CA 94133 (415) 981-9177 Visit Website

Tremont 647

647 Tremont Street, , MA 02118 (617) 266-4600 Visit Website

Strip-T's Restaurant

93 School Street, , MA 02472 (617) 923-4330 Visit Website

Brasserie Jo

120 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02116 617 425 3240

Snappy Sushi

108 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116 617 262 4530 Visit Website

Crema Cafe

27 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 (617) 876-2700 Visit Website

Doretta Taverna

79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116 Visit Website

Sullivan's Tap

168 Canal Street, , MA 02114 Visit Website

Buttonwood

51 Lincoln Street, , MA 02461 (617) 928-5771 Visit Website

KO Pies at the Shipyard

256 Marginal St, East Boston, MA 02128 (617) 418-5234 Visit Website

Shepard

1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

The Daily Catch Restaurant

323 Hanover Street, , MA 02113 (617) 523-8567 Visit Website

Tealuxe

0 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 (617) 441-0077 Visit Website

The Tam

222 Tremont Street, , MA 02116 (617) 482-9182

L'Espalier

774 Boylston Street, , MA 02199 (617) 262-3023 Visit Website

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