It’s been nearly five years since Neptune Oyster alum Michael Serpa debuted his own restaurant, Select Oyster Bar, on Gloucester Street in Back Bay. Today, January 29, steps away from Select, he opens Grand Tour at 314 Newbury St., drawing inspiration from Parisian bistros and cycling races.
Plans began in late 2018, and Serpa told Eater in early 2019 that he “really just wanted to open a place that has a legit steak frites.”
“It’s one of my favorite things to eat,” he said at the time. “Simple, delicious, not fancy.” Sure enough, Grand Tour’s menu (see below) features two steak frites options — an eight-ounce prime bavette or 14-ounce prime ribeye, each sourced locally from Savenor’s and served with butter, frites, and watercress salad.
With David Nevins (Olives, Neptune Oyster) onboard as executive chef and Adeir Braz Da Silva (Select) as sous chef, Grand Tour also covers plenty of other French bistro-esque territory, from escargot (in the form of a sort of escargot pot pie) to steak tartare, duck rillettes, chicken liver mousse, crispy sweetbreads, and the like.
There’s some seafood, although Serpa and his team are mostly leaving the seafood to Select; rabbit, venison, and duck make up the bulk of the entree choices. And for those who want to go extra-fancy, there’s a caviar omelet.
Serpa is enthusiastic about the amount of vegetable dishes on the menu, too, including a butternut squash “crudo,” sliced and presented as if it were a seafood crudo. “I really, really like to eat vegetables. When I go out, that’s what I’m ordering,” says Serpa, noting that Somerville’s Field & Vine is a really great example of that sort of “veggie-centric” menu where you can go in seeking vegetarian or vegan dishes and just order easily, without making lots of substitutions.
To drink, Grand Tour is sticking with wine and beer only — that’s really all the space will allow. It’s only around 17 feet wide, Serpa tells Eater, noting that it might be the narrowest building on Newbury Street.
The wine-by-the-glass selection is exclusively American in the same way that a French bistro would most likely feature French wines. “If you’re in France, you’re not going to drink American sauvignon blanc; that doesn’t make any sense,” says Serpa. “So here I was like, ‘Why don’t we just flip that on its head and do all American wines?’” Besides, at Select, that’s what all of the out-of-town visitors tend to seek.
“It was fun to try to track down the coolest of American wines to make a list, covering the whole range from super light to a little bit bigger to some fun natural-leaning to some more classic. I’m super excited about it,” says Serpa. (As for the bottles, it’s a mix of American and French wines. Plus, there’s a small selection of New England craft beers.)
The coziness of the bistro-style menu is amplified by the space, which — while small — feels airy, not claustrophobic, thanks to a light color palette (there’s a lot of white marble), plenty of mirrors, and a variety of textures and patterns throughout. It’s a major overhaul of what used to be a smoothie shop on the main dining level (located below street level) and a salon upstairs (now a loft-like additional dining room that can be rented for private events).
Serpa worked with Boston-based design firm Silverman Trykowski Associates on the restaurant, which features an eye-catching spiral staircase up front and maintains some 1890s-era wood from the building’s original structure. The restaurant’s cycling inspiration — Grand Tour refers to each of professional cycling’s three most demanding races — is incorporated subtly into the design, with a few themed pieces of artwork, including an eye-catching, Tour de France-themed custom work by artist Ale Giorgini. (There’s also a colorful Giorgini piece up at Select.)
With Grand Tour’s opening today, it’s immediately beginning daily lunch service, along with dinner. (The neighborhood sort of demands lunch service, Serpa notes.) For now, the lunch and dinner menus will be the same, although that’s subject to change, depending on the needs of the area.