Posts Tagged ‘Chef Barbara Lunch’

Sportello Restaurant ~ Boston

Posted 01 Sep 2011 — by S.E.
Category Fine Dining

Barbra Lynch seems to design her restaurants so they run better without her than with her.  Don’t get me wrong, Chef Lynch is at the center of her restaurant group. She is the visionary and the driving force behind every new concept and outlet. However, her restaurants are well run and the food at each and every one is consistently excellent, not just excellent when Barbara is in the house. I admire this.

A recent trip to Sportello, Lynch’s take on a modern lunch counter, is a case in point. I arrive a bit before lunch and take a seat on a black bar stool at the end of the counter closest to the hot line. Sportello is located next door to Menton, Lynch’s fine dining outpost in the Seaport (Fort Point) neighborhood of Boston and one flight of stairs above Lynch’s wonderful bar Drink.

My server is just across the counter at the point of sales system talking with a colleague about the graduate courses she is taking in Gastronomy at Boston University. I can’t help but hear her quick but detailed description of the course and the words she uses suggests to me that she is a writer and an intellect.  To my left, a heavy set chef walks past, glances at her and takes up station on the hot line. He makes eye contact with me for a second and smiles slightly and turns away to finish his station prep.

The kitchen at Sportello is wide open to the dining counter; the entire culinary crew is on stage. Now my server approaches and takes a drink order. I ask about BU and she smiles and fills me in on her background. She’s working for Lynch to build her resume and learn the business while hoping her graduate degree will lead to greener pastures in the world of food, food writing, teaching or, perhaps restaurant ownership.

Off she goes to pull my drink order while I study the menu seeking options. She’s back now with some suggestions. I ask her to bring me the two best selling items on the menu and she agrees to deliver a tagliatelle with sauce Bolognese and fried basil and her favorite item: a strozzapreti (hand rolled “priest chokers) with braised rabbit, picholine olives and rosemary. I am game so off she goes again.

First up: a hot plate of tagliatelle topped with finely grated pecorino. For years I have been making an excellent tagliatelle, one that I roll a few extra times through the pasta machine to assure that the thin sheets have excellent bite after being cooked al dente, a la minute. The tagliatelle (the pasta itself) at Sportello exceeds my expectations. Better yet, the Bolognese is the real deal and not overcooked like so many I have tried. It’s rich with a deep meat and tomato flavor. The basil leaf adds color and aroma; an excellent simple dish.

Second: the strozzapreti. The rustic inconsistency of the shapes of this hand-rolled deliciously light pasta is endearing. After braising the rabbit the sauce is reduced by eighty percent into a savory brown glace that clings with gelatinous tenacity to the pasta. Each piece of rabbit is moist and fork-tender throughout. This is a very rich dish that is cut by the light bitterness of the picholine olives and the saltiness of the pecorino. By the way, I ordered half portions knowing that Sportello would be generous. The rabbit is the best I have had in Boston.

Prior to heading for the door I sample a small plate of fresh ricotta (usually an amuse at Sportello) as a dessert and it is a perfect ending. Not once did any employee at Sportello flash Chef Lynch’s picture in my face. Her image isn’t glued to the wall nor is it pasted across the menu. Sportello is a standalone restaurant with a good professional, smart crew that executes Lynch’s cuisine with no pretense and with no need to stand on her shoulders all day long. I like this restaurant and, as I have said before, I like Barbara Lynch.


348 Congress St

Boston, MA 02210




Menton Restaurant, Boston

Posted 01 Jun 2011 — by S.E.
Category Fine Dining

I love the city of Boston for many reasons. It’s a large American city with a great skyline, tremendous history (by American standards), an active cultural scene, great architecture, the best academic institutions in the world, and fantastic people. The city also has the highest proportion of female celebrity chefs in the country and that in itself is worth celebrating.  Barbara Lynch is one of those chefs.

Lynch is incredibly smart. Just over a year ago she chose to locate Menton, her latest fine dining outpost, in the rising Fort Point neighborhood of Boston. Menton occupies the first and lower floors of the FP3 building, an old brick mill building that has undergone a thoughtful adaptive reuse under the watchful eye of Hacin + Associates architectural design and Berkeley Investments. Berkeley started the project during the dark depths of the recession and recruited Lynch as an anchor tenant. Talk about doubling down when times are tough! I love this kind of visionary thinking.

Menton is within walking distance to the Seaport district, Boston Convention center and surrounding hotels and other major new construction projects coming out of the ground in that part of the city. The location is easy to find although parking is tough and valet is a must. The restaurant entrance is completely understated with nothing but a small brass sign bolted to the side of the building marking its presence. I initially failed to notice the restaurant but spied the valet in front just as I was passing. Traffic on this side of the city is light so I spun around and handed over my keys. Just 15 minutes from Logan via the Ted Williams tunnel, I strategize timing for a quick multicourse menu prior to making a run to the airport.

The color palette inside the entrance and sitting area is awash with gray upholstered furniture, rich brown paneling, mustard colored throw pillows and tall table lamps. Entering the dining room, the mood and design shifts to a stark and contemporary yet softer feel.  Each place is set with a service plate, napkin, knife, fork, water and wine glass and candle. Tablecloths are seamless and pressed and servers are formal. The building and environment have a central European chic with a truly local feel as does the food.

And the food starts to arrive. Each dish is carefully prepared but not overly fussy. Flavors are bold and well executed and portion sizes are balance and precise. Foods are locally sourced and perfectly cooked. Seasonal flairs flourish on each plate and I find the culinary aesthetic balanced and well controlled. The food is delicious.


Amuse of Tarragon Puree, Porchetta, Crispy Mandarin Orange, Red Beets

Green and White Asparagus, Araucana Egg, Morel, Fines Herbes

Salmon with Spring Peas, Ramps, Caviar

Casco Bay Codfish with Stuffed Squash Blossom

Giannone Farm Poulet, Porcini, Fava Leaf, Spaetzle



354 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02210-1295
(617) 737-0099

No. 9 Park ~ Boston

Posted 24 Oct 2010 — by S.E.
Category Fine Dining, Full Service

Chef Barbara Lynch is setting Boston on fire. For the past thirteen years she’s been steadily opening restaurants while pushing the envelope on culinary creativity and service in a city with a history of embracing strong female chefs. Her restaurants (9 as of this writing) are bold, creative, and of clear intent. Although she’s generated tremendous press for her latest venture, Menton, and newer ventures like Drink (best creative cocktails in Boston),  B&G Oysters (best fresh oysters and martinis in Boston), and The Butcher Shop (best burger in the city, hands down), my favorite  Barbara Lynch outlet is good old No. 9 Park. No. 9 Park is a gem. It has old world charm with a contemporary twist and several long-standing menu items that draw me in each time I am in the neighborhood.

No. 9 Park steadily offers several signature menu items.  Lynch’s prune stuffed Gnocchi with foie gras is such a dish and it’s the main reason I love stop over as a “walk-in” and sit at the bar or one of the café tables for a snack. If you arrive right at 5:30 p.m., a table is usually available without reservation and within minutes hot Gnocchi and steaming foie gras can be yours.  With its deep stained wood floors, antique chandeliers, and cushioned seating by the bay window, the bar is incredibly relaxing and comfortable. Designed by Cheryl and Jeffry Katz of C&J Katz Design, the space draws on its colonial surroundings while remaining sleek and refined. In some ways, the interior of No. 9 Park reminds me of what the original Olives in Charlestown was like back in the day. Warm and inviting, refined, packed, loud, comfortable and mouthwatering.

Prune Stuffed Gnocchi with Foie Gras

In the culinary world, there are lineages, both regionally and nationally. Lynch can trace her pedigree back to Todd English when he was cooking at Michela Larson’s Michela’s in Cambridge.  I had a friend that worked at Michela’s at the time and she was a colleague of Lynch’s. Both were running fast and hard in the midst of an emerging Boston restaurant scene. Even then it was clear that Lynch was her own woman with a future ahead. It wasn’t long before Todd took off to open Olives and the rest is history as far as Todd is concerned. Barbara Lynch followed English to Olives and then over to Figs. When I eat the Gnocchi with foie gras I taste an echo of the tremendous, super rich, deeply flavorful, hearty and rustic foods that English used to serve and sense a bit of English’s genetic code in what Lynch is doing. The evolution of a chef and the lineage he or she draws from results in subtle similarities in menu items and techniques between the master and apprentice.  I see this as complimentary to both parties. Don’t get me wrong, Barbara Lynch owns the dining scene in Boston in a way that Todd English never has.  The apprentice is now the master cooking with some similarities.

Today, Barbara Lynch operates nine different restaurant concepts and employs over 200 people. She serves as CEO of Barbara Lynch Gruppo and has a fantastic track record adding new concepts to her portfolio. It was only 13 years ago that Lynch opened her first restaurant! She probably has another new concept in development at this very moment.  As far as I can tell, there is no other female chef in the country with such a high quality restaurant portfolio or the accolades that Lynch has earned over the years. These are the thoughts that fill my head as I take my first bite of Gnocchi, steaming slab of foie gras attached.  You have to try this dish. Go to No. 9 Park and take a seat at the bar. Order a glass of champagne and a plate of the Gnocchi to get you started, and soak in the room. This may be the very dish that launched an empire and it is one that will warm your soul.

Charcuterie Plate

Composed Salad

Black Olive Clafoutis

Chocolate Cremeaux


No. 9 Park

9 Park St.

Boston, MA 02108