Welcome back to AM Intel, a round-up of mini news bites to kick off the day.
L’Espalier Is Not Reopening
In a 2020-worthy twist, Boston fine-dining gem L’Espalier — which closed at the end of 2018 after 40 years in business — announced on its Instagram account on October 1 that it would be reopening on October 15 “as a gift to the great city of Boston.” The announcement had lots of very specific details: Gift certificates would be honored, but not gift cards. “Brunch, finally.” A tasting menu for kids. An appearance by a special guest chef “from NYC. Or is he from Napa?” Exciting news, except that it’s not real.
Chef and owner Frank McClelland clarified on his current account that the L’Espalier account was “hacked” and that the restaurant will not be reopening. Fans of McClelland’s cooking can find him at his Beverly restaurant, market, and cafe, Frank, which opened in late 2019.
Comfort Kitchen Gives a Preview
Comfort Kitchen is still in the works in Dorchester — a cafe, restaurant, and community space planned for 611 Columbia Rd. in Upham’s Corner that will celebrate “the food of the Diaspora — global comfort food.” But for now, the team is going to be holding a series of pop-ups while fundraising for local organizations such as the Urban Farming Institute, the Boston Cyclists Union, and the Student Immigrant Movement.
The first round of pop-ups takes place on Monday and Tuesday nights, October 5 to 27, at the new Sweet Basil location in Waltham (469 Moody St.). The menu is meant to feature “the art of slow and low one-pot cooking found in many immigrant cultures,” with dishes such as jollof rice, momo, and braised fall vegetables. To-go cocktails will also be available. Customers should order 24 hours in advance.
Future pop-ups are planned for Dorchester, Somerville, and Jamaica Plain; keep an eye on the Comfort Kitchen Instagram account for updates. The Comfort Kitchen team includes chef partner Kwasi Kwaa (founder of Ghanaian pop-up the Chop Bar), managing partner Biplaw Rai (cofounder of Dudley Cafe in Roxbury and board member of Commonwealth Kitchen, a local nonprofit food incubator), and organization development partner Nyacko Pearl Perry (founder of Yin Consulting).
In Other News...
- Somerville is extending its pandemic-related outdoor dining accommodations — more streamlined permitting, expanded locations, etc. — through the end of 2021, as long as weather and safety permit.
- Speaking of outdoor dining in Somerville, Union Square’s Brass Union (70 Union Sq.) is turning its patio into the Twin Peaks-inspired Brass Lodge for the fall. Visit on Friday and Saturday nights from 6 p.m. to midnight, starting October 2, for small bites, themed cocktails, and, during opening weekend, individual cherry pies from Petsi Pies.
- WBUR has a farewell letter to Machine and Ramrod, “Fenway’s last queer nightlife spots,” which closed before quarantine.
- In a candid newsletter, Mei Mei owner Irene Li writes that it’s increasingly unlikely that Mei Mei “will be a restaurant again.” That doesn’t mean it’s the end for Mei Mei; Li has plans: “Maybe a packaged dumpling company, maybe a virtual events and catering business, but almost certainly not a restaurant.” For now, there are prepared foods available to reheat at home; opportunities for hot food, such as Double Awesomes, on a limited basis or in meal kit form; classes; and dumpling pickup in several places.
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