BoMA Restaurant + Bar in the South End recently welcomed new Executive Chef Ryan Kelly to the kitchen. Bringing with him years of experience with him, he has created a menu that features an array of light fare options ($8-14) and American favorites, including a selection of tacos ($8-13), salads ($10-11), burgers ($13-14) and pizza ($14-17). The entrees include familiar classics with a twist, such as the Braised Short Ribs covered in a Thai sweet chili BBQ sauce, buttery scalloped potatoes, warmed radish medley and radish greens for $22 and Roasted Half Chicken on a bed of warm Swiss chard, lardons, and fingerling potatoes with an orange glaze for $23.
Chef Kelly is a talented young professional and it is easy to see that he is excited about his new menu, which he describes as “simple” with the hopes of injecting a bit more complexity into it in the future. The menu might seem simple but the taste is anything but. Every dish is carefully crafted, beautifully presented, and offers a delicate balance of ingredients and flavors.
Chef Kelly offered us our first glimpse into his culinary creativity with an unexpected amuse-bouche of grilled mahi mahi “tacos” over frisée with pickled mustard seed, cilantro and drizzled with chive oil, served on bib lettuce (instead of the flour taco). These five ordinary ingredients tasted extraordinary together. Every bite I took was full of intense flavor; the pickled mustard seed offered a tangy mustard flavor and a texture similar to caviar, the cilantro was pungent and the frisée compliments the dish with its slightly bitter taste.
We shared two appetizers the tuna tartare and kale Caesar. The tartare, made with Atlantic tuna in a tamari vinaigrette served with Aji Amarillo, pickled vegetables, avocado mousse, tobiko and quail egg, was fantastic. The subtleties of all those ingredients packed one powerful punch. Chef Kelly keeps tamari on hand to substitute for soy sauce.
I loved the idea of a kale Caesar—kale salad with shaved pecorino cheese, dressed in Caesar dressing and topped with crispy shallots—and I loved the size, however, it was overdressed and therefore quite rich. The overabundance of dressing and cheese took away from the crunchy natural kale flavor. All I could taste was the Caesar and cheese.
Chef Kelly recommended both the scallops and the duck for our entrées, so we took his advice. The seared day boat scallops were served with confit daikon radish, grapefruit supreme and candied zest, over a sweet parsnip puree and balsamic. I received a satisfying portion of buttery sea scallops with a couple of daikons thrown in for texture and a different (less sweet) flavor. It was a clever visual trick, as the daikon (white radish) and scallops all looked the same. The rich flavor and buttery texture of the parsnip puree was the perfect accompaniment to the seared scallops. And the tartness of the grapefruit cut through the richness of the parsnip puree and scallops.
The Seared duck breast was served over a sweet pomegranate molasses, with fingerling potatoes, rubarb and nashi pear salad. The pomegranate molasses was a syrup-like reduction that has a really unique, tart-sweet flavor with the consistency of maple syrup. I like the idea behind this but the tartness was too robust. The duck on the other hand was excellent, just enough tenderness without being undercooked. The dishes were filling but light enough that we didn’t leave feeling too full.
A majority of the menu, with the exceptions of the pizzas, is or can be modified to be gluten free. For the beer battered fish and chips, gluten free beer is used, flour taco shells are substituted with Bibb lettuce, and a lemon vinaigrette to use in place of the soy vinaigrette on the house mesculin salad, just to name a few. One of the most impressive things I saw on the drink menu was Gluten Free Estrella Damm from Spain. This is a hard to find beer in Boston and the fact that BoMA carries the gluten free variety is impressive. They were out the night we were there so I did not get the chance to try it though.
Cucumbers have become a popular ingredient in summer cocktails, offering a refreshingly crisp beverage perfect for sipping outside on a nice evening. Boma’s version, the Boma Delight, is made with cucumber vodka, muddled basil, agave nectar and lime juice topped with soda. It was excellent; perfect for a hot summer night. Other creative cocktails include the Smoking Hot Margarita made with jalapeño infused tequila, and the Urban Honey, concocted with bourbon, ginger liqueur, honey and fresh lemon juice.
Our server, Sergio, was remarkably friendly, and was very knowledgeable about the new menu. His knowledge of the wine list was also impressive. He was spot on in suggesting a glass of the Pratsch, Gruner Veltliner to pair with the duck. I had never heard of Gruner Veltiner before now, but I thoroughly enjoyed this Austrian medium-bodied white wine. It was refreshing, and slightly fruity with hints of pepper, complementing the duck nicely.
BoMA labels itself as a gastro-pub and certainly beats its competition on Washington Street on the culinary front. Chef Kelly certainly knows what he is doing in the kitchen. If you’re looking for something a bit more sophisticated and refined than the standard-quality pub-grub, then BoMA is the place to be. Whether you just want to enjoy a beer and small plate and catch the hockey or baseball game or if have a more formal dining experience, there is something for everyone at BoMA.
Location:1415 Washington St, South End, Boston
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