Two longtime South End restaurant spaces are reborn as one tonight, August 23, with a much-lauded chef in charge. Tim Maslow splashes back into Boston’s restaurant scene with Whaling in Oklahoma, a “Modern American brasserie” focusing on Japanese flavors, opening in the former home of Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel (647 Tremont St., Boston), Andy Husbands’s sibling spots that closed on April 1.
Maslow first became a familiar face in the Boston restaurant scene when he came back from working within David Chang’s Momofuku empire in New York and reinvented his father’s Watertown neighborhood spot, Strip-T’s, into a food nerd destination. Maslow went on to open and close Ribelle in Brookline, which earned a rare and pressure-packed four-star review in The Boston Globe — and other local and national accolades for Maslow and the restaurant — during its nearly three-year span, 2013-2016.
Since the closure of Ribelle — a tumultous time that included a drug arrest for Maslow (all charges were dismissed) and a variety of sudden changes to the Ribelle concept and even its name — Maslow has kept a bit of a low profile, spending some time cooking at Tiffani Faison’s Tiger Mama in Fenway, consulting with Douglass Williams at Mida, and helping open a couple places in Maine.
But last year, Maslow spoke with Eater about his intention to return to the city and “open [a restaurant] that the city can love.”
“I am 100% coming back to the city of Boston asking them to understand what I went through,” he said at the time. “I tried hard for them, and they bit me in the ass, and I still want to be here. I love this city. And I want to make it right.”
Starting tonight, he’s making it right with Whaling in Oklahoma, a name that refers to a law that prohibits catching whales in the landlocked state of Oklahoma. “It’s funny and irreverent and makes no sense,” he previously told the Globe. “It seemed a playful way to say what we might do.”
Along with Ribelle alum Matthew Hummel, Maslow is serving sashimi, tempura, salads, pickles, rice balls, a few sweet treats, and more. There’s a snapper sashimi, for example, that comes with ginger, green onion, and pepper, not to mention a fried tonkotsu sandwich, a grilled dry-aged rib-eye, and shiso pickle rice balls.
The structure of the restaurant leaves the team working with three spaces — two dining rooms and a private space that will also serve as a karaoke room — each of which has its own bar that will serve sake, Japanese beer, wine, cocktails, and whiskey. Another Ribelle alum, Colin Mason, is behind the beverages.
To start, Whaling in Oklahoma will serve dinner only, but eventually Maslow plans to launch a weekend brunch. For now, the hours are Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
• First Look at Tim Maslow’s Whaling in Oklahoma [BM]
• Tim Maslow Wants to Open a Restaurant That Boston Can Love [EBOS]
• Tim Maslow Is Coming Back to Boston [EBOS]
• Whaling in Oklahoma [Official Site]