“When Restaurants Were Restaurants”
The Boston Globe’s Devra First reviews Mooncusser Fish House this week. While the restaurant “sounds like it should be a shack by the beach,” it’s an entirely different operation, involving tablecloths, elegant food, and beautiful china, First writes. “It is a classic city restaurant, the sort of endeavor that feels so old-school it is not quite ready to be new again,” she writes. The smoked scallop terrine embodies the restaurant’s aesthetic — it has a “jouncy texture, the bottom half flecked with chives, the top embedded with chunks of scallop,” and it comes with house-made crackers that show off the care given to the food.
“Chef Carolyn Johnson’s menu takes us back to a time when restaurants were restaurants, not small-plates free-for-alls where ‘everyone shares family-style,’” First writes. Overall, there are plenty of pleasurable parts of the meal, including mackerel crudo, an elegant chowder, and a halibut that’s seared golden. Of the desserts, “the clear winner is pastry chef Katie Hamilburg’s baba au rhum,” which First describes as “a boozy little cake” in a pool of caramel. Overall, she rates the restaurant two-and-a-half stars out of four, between “good” and “excellent.”
“A Miracle Under the Radar”
Marc Hurwitz reviews the Old Havana in Jamaica Plain for the Dig. The menu includes beef patties, cod fritters, empanadas, steak sandwiches, seafood paella, a deep-fried whole red snapper, and lots more. Hurwitz’s personal highlights include a Spanish sausage that’s “slightly sweet, smoky, and spicy” and “a classic Cuban sandwich with ham, tender roasted pork, cheese, pickles, and mustard all stuffed into freshly made Cuban bread.” He also calls attention to “a wonderful version” of arroz con pollo, not to mention a churro plate for dessert. There’s no alcohol available at the Old Havana, but the restaurant offers mango smoothies and a mild mamey smoothie that brings “to mind everything from watermelon to sweet potatoes to even a bit of pumpkin.”
Overall, Hurwitz writes, the Cuban dishes offered reflect “exactly what simple comfort food should be all about, and the Old Havana seems to do it about as well as anyone in the region.”