[Photo: Official Source]
Fairsted Kitchen, the latest addition to Washington Square’s burgeoning restaurant scene, is officially open in Brookline. After a brief soft-opening period that started October 25th, the restaurant in the former Umami space fully opened last Tuesday. In a few days’ time, it has already begun to collect some neighborhood regulars and visits from others in the industry. Helmed by a team including Patrick Gaggiano (formerly of Trina’s Starlight Lounge and Parlor Sports) as the anti-“hierarchy malarky,” R. Kelly-playing “Master of Ceremonies” and chef Scott Osif (of Galley Beach in Nantucket), the restaurant aims to bring a new interpretation to “local.”
Owners Andrew Foster and Steve Bowman are not only obsessed with the sourcing of their ingredients but also with meeting all the needs of their neighborhood, from $3 canned beers (tallboys of Hamm’s “shift beer”) to charging phones at the bar (USB outlets are scattered throughout so patrons can keep their phones while dining and drinking.) Here’s a brief guide to what it’s all about.
1. The restaurant’s culture is guided by three questions: Is it good? Is it fun? Is it in service of the neighborhood? Ideas like hand-carving ice for cocktails ultimately were axed because there was no justification of how that would be good for the neighborhood, whereas a $5 menu item — a pig head lettuce wrap with carrots and daikon — made it onto the menu to satisfy the area’s budget-conscious student population.
2. Apart from the $5 item, the menu is divided into four different sections: snacks & sides ($8), small ($13), large ($17-33), and “table,” with three shareable options. “The way we eat for 18 years of our life disappears after you leave your mom’s house,” says Foster. “For 18 years, your mom cooks you something delicious, and it comes out in one dish, and everyone sits around a table and shares. Why do we have to abandon that when we grow up and go to restaurants?” He also mentions industry-favorite Peach Farm as an influence in offering “table” dishes, such as a two-pound chateaubriand ($75) and the monkfish, which is priced per person ($21). “We still don’t bring a live eel out to your table in a bucket. Yet.”
3. In an effort to preserve Washington Square’s existing dining ecosystem, Fairsted foregoes an extensive draft beer selection and instead exclusively pours lagers from Framingham’s Jack’s Abby Brewing out of their four different lines. And, yes, there will be Kiwi Rising Double IPL on draft soon.
4. Patrick Gaggiano serves cocktails in every single way imaginable. Some are served in “traditional fashion” like Valley of Ashes with Blaco Tequila, celery, Green Chartreuse, Benedictine and cinnamon (billboard for Doctor TJ Eckleburg not included). But there’s also Alamagoozlum (Genever, Jamaican Rum, Yellow Chartreuse, sugar, Curacao, Angostura bitters, and egg white) made for two and pronounceable to zero. If that’s not enough, there are draft cocktails and bottled ones. Gaggiano emphasizes that neither is a gimmick, but rather in keeping with the restaurant’s culture of serving the neighborhood by being able to offer a quality cocktail without a long wait. Not all cocktails are created equally: Through a R&D process described as “tell me three things you hate about this drink,” only cocktails that benefitted from the enriching addition of nitro from the tap system, or from the forced carbonation of bottling, were picked to go into those programs. Whatever the process behind crafting the drink may be, all are poured into beautiful antique glassware sourced from Brimfield.
5. Fairsted is open from 5PM until 1AM on Monday through Thursday and until 2AM Friday and Saturday, serving an abbreviated menu after 10PM. Eventually, there will be brunch. And there will also be something that some would call “pop-ups,” but since Foster hates that word, it will most likely be called something else when it happens at Fairsted for their late-night program.
— Gabe Bellegard Bastos