JASON ALBUS HAS TAKEN OVER AS THE NEW EXECUTIVE CHEF AT FAIRSTED KITCHEN. PHOTO COURTESY OF HALEY ROSE.
After only six months, Fairsted Kitchen has a new executive chef. Co-owners Steve Bowman (Menton, Russell House Tavern) and Andrew Foster (Il Casale, Russell House) have always seemed to be the face of this 47-seat gem in Brookline’s Washington Square, with former executive chef Scott Osif content to quietly ply his trade in the back. But starting on March 31, that’s all going to change as they promote sous chef Jason Albus (Menton, Troquet) who intends on interjecting his own personality into the foundation of Osif’s critically acclaimed menu, while also building Fairsted Kitchen’s late-night presence.
“As far as the concept is concerned, yes, I’m going to completely stick with Scott’s [Osif] use of refined fresh ingredients and Middle Eastern flavors,” says Albus. “At the same time, I want to have fun with it. The menu is obviously going to change.”
Albus insists that this was Bowman and Foster’s intention all along. He says that Osif, formerly of Nantucket’s Galley Beach, was brought in with the understanding that he would help launch the restaurant while also training Albus to take over when everything was “established and running smooth.”
The first priority for Albus is launching a themed late-night menu that will rotate every month. His debut concept is called “Ma’ Dukes: Southern-Style Late Night,” which explores comfort foods from Albus’s home state of South Carolina like jalapeño hush puppies, crispy pig ears, and a fried flounder sandwich on white bread.
THE FRIED FLOUNDER SANDWICH ON WHITE BREAD, A PART OF FAIRSTED KITCHEN’S NEW LATE-NIGHT MENU. PHOTO COURTESY OF HALEY ROSE
“It’s all basic, simple food that has a special place in my heart,” says Albus. “They might not be the most refined dishes, but they’re delicious. That’s what we’re going for at the restaurant. It’s a way to keep myself and the staff stimulated. I want everyone to be thinking about food and not just the food we’re doing nightly for dinner service.”
Other dishes on the “Ma’ Duke’s” menu include a pork-slice sandwich with pickled sweet-and-sour relish and his grandmother’s banana pudding with vanilla wafers. “Banana pudding is the epitome of a Southern dessert for me,” says Albus. “It’s not your standard run-of-the-mill dessert anywhere else in the country. When I think about my grandmother’s banana pudding, it actually makes me giddy on the inside.”
In May, Albus will transition into a Asian street food concept, and June will be dedicated to gourmet sandwiches. Each menu will feature four savory options and one dessert.
Although Fairsted’s neighbor Ribelle relinquished its own late-night aspirations earlier this winter, Albus saw a wave of support from the neighborhood and restaurant industry personnel when he introduced a rough version earlier in February. Instead of one definitive theme, that menu included favorites from the dinner menu as well as pizza rolls, pig ears, and wagyu tacos, which incorporated leftovers cuts from Fairsted’s in-house butchering.
“At the beginning we were just pulling crowd-pleasers from the menu, then we started deviating from that to try to make an entirely separate menu,” says Albus. “It became a lot more fun because we weren’t just doing the same thing all day. We tested the waters a little bit to see how receptive people are to some unusual things. We’ve done pig ears, tripe, and a tongue and Taleggio cheese sandwich. People have been very receptive to the menu and we feel that with a little more consistency, it’s really going to take off for us.”
CHEF JASON ALBUS’S NEW PORK SLICE SANDWICH WITH CHOW-CHOW.
Here’s a preview of Ma’ Duke’s Southern-style late-night menu:
Fried Flounder Sandwich
White Bread, Iceberg Lettuce
Crispy Pig’s Ears
Kohlrabi Greens, Radish, Ham Hock Jus