Two vacant restaurant spaces in Cambridge’s Kendall Square will soon have new tenants, with the adjoining restaurants run by sisters with a family legacy in Boston’s restaurant world. Nadia Liu Spellman, who runs Dumpling Daughter in Weston, will open a second location of the restaurant in Kendall Square, as previously reported, while her sister Nicole Liu will open a restaurant called Vester (stylized as VESTER), modeled after a European cafe. Dumpling Daughter and Vester will share the dual space at 73 Ames St. that used to be home to sibling spots Ames Street Deli and Study, which were owned by the team behind Backbar and the now-closed Journeyman in Somerville.
The sisters’ mother, Sally Ling, owned the eponymous Sally Ling’s on Boston’s waterfront in the 1980s, which was a first for Boston — a white-tablecloth Chinese restaurant with serving carts. Ling acts as a consultant for Dumpling Daughter.
Where Spellman’s Dumpling Daughter serves Chinese food, drawing from the family history but serving dumplings, noodles, and more in a casual setting, Vester is informed by Liu’s travels.
“My inspiration for Vester came about during a solo trip to Copenhagen a few years ago,” Liu told Eater in an email. “I adored the cafe culture, city aesthetic, and their mindful approach to dining, which had a prominent emphasis on freshness and seasonality.”
In that vein, Vester will serve cafe fare all day, using seasonal produce and international ingredients for a menu of breakfast dishes, salads, and sandwiches. Liu has a few menu items set already, including a prosciutto di parma sandwich and a smoked salmon salad with fine-cut vegetables and preserved lemon vinaigrette that will be made and aged in-house.
“I love eating this food because it’s so delicious and I feel good about myself,” Liu said. “Simplicity with finesse is so key.”
That being said, she’ll also offer what she calls a daily splurge special, “because balance is always important.”
Those familiar with Copenhagen may also recognize the restaurant’s name: It’s taken from the Vesterbro neighborhood, which was one of the first places Liu explored during her visit. The former red light district is now home to restaurants, galleries, and the Carlsberg beer headquarters.
“Vester is an ode to that experience of discovery and creating new life,” Liu said.
While Liu hasn’t solidified an opening timeline for Vester yet, she has applied for its common victualler wine and malt beverage license and is slated to operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with seating for 44 inside and 16 outside on a patio. Meanwhile, Dumpling Daughter is eyeing a summer 2018 opening.