Boston: Eastern Standard

It's on One for the Table

Let's Eat by Kitty Kaufman, photos by Julie Moffatt

Eastern Standard mussels Eastern Standard are pros at brasserie: noisy, friendly and day or night, busy. If you're upstairs at Hotel Commonwealth, nix room service and come on down when breakfast rolls at 7 with granola, fruit, oatmeal, bagel and lox, home fries, eggs any way and French toast with berries and pecans. Lunch takes over at 11:30. After 2:30, raw bar is in full swing and if you're in the mood for salads, a burger, grilled cheese, mussels, or steak, it's all there smack in the middle of the afternoon.

Fried calamari appetizer is our personal taste test. Eastern Standard's is lightly coated with a side of aïoli, never messed with peppers, tomato sauce, garlic or peanuts. Of all the fried calamari we've had, this is five-star. When Dilusha and I come for lunch, before we're seated, she's already got it ordered. It pairs with their Bibb salad and of course they're able to find perfect heads I rarely see in the best markets.

Dilusha orders the best things always. She chooses Faroe Island salmon. Once again, there are dueling forks over the bean salad. Julie starts with mushroom soup decorated with brioche croutons and lucky for me, two spoons. After soup, there are moules provençal with Kiralyudvar Tokaji Furmint Sec (KEE-rye-oohd-var), a white Hungarian grape. Our waiter also pours tastes of Hirsch Grüner Veltliner. Other by the glasses: Cristalino Brut Cava, Wimmer Czerny Blanc de Noirs, Nicolas Cole Merlot-Cabernet, and Henri Milan Grenache-Syrah.

That's not all: on draft, there's Peeper Ale from Portland, Notch Session from Ipswich, Anchor Steam and 21st Amendment from San Francisco. I counted nine Belgians, four Germans, five vintage brews, bottles from Stingo, Brooklyn Lager, Left Hand Milk Stout from Colorado, Hop Notch from Salt Lake City, Stone Ale from Escondido and 30 other beers.

Eastern Standard calamari Another day we're back for their plat du jour: lemon shrimp Mondays, scallop Wednesdays, lobster gnocchi Fridays, plus everything we haven't had like oysters (obviously, this was five years ago), sauteed trout, grilled cheese, seared cod, and Hudson Valley foie gras with lentils. In good weather we choose the patio especially when we bring le bébé. It is here she discovered bread baskets. Neither the server nor the guys at the next table are put off by our resident flinger and the birds were grateful.

Service is leisurely, friendly and nearly immaculate. In addition to wine, we get Florentine almond cherry squares and no, they're not on the menu. (Lauren was practicing?) Even better, they know from grownup music. We can think of hundreds, thousands of places that must stop in for a tutorial on pairing music with food. Since the hotel offers 24-hour room service, you can get served in the restaurant till 1 am. Next time we'll start with dessert. (I know someone who does this.) How could we not with mousse, seven layer cake, fruit crisp, and ice cream "churned daily." Kenmore Square now is never boring and we're sure the agile New York vibe is intentional.

December 2020: So sad that Eastern Standard is no more, along with Island Creek Oyster Bar and The Hawthorne. The best block for eating and drink is gone and it has nothing to do with a virus. Just the weasel boy landlords. Let no independent merchant rent one foot of space from them ever. Chains, too, if they'll listen. Maybe the Hotel Commonwealth will leave?

Eastern Standard
528 Commonwealth
Boston, MA
617. 532. 9100
© November 28, 2012 for One for the Table
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