There have been many new restaurant openings in Boston recently but none (I think) as eagerly awaited as Trade in the new South Boston. Jody Adams of Rialto fame partnered with Sean Griffing and Eric Papachristos to bring Boston a gastronomic, casual dining experience.
In the past few weeks since its opening I have tried to make a reservation three times with no luck. This past Monday I was in the area so along with a colleague and a friend we decided to finally give Trade a try. I thought a Monday would be less crowded and easier to get a table without a reservation.
Situated on the corner of Atlantic Ave and Congress Street you walk through huge glass doors that lead into a cavernous, industrial looking restaurant with floor to ceiling windows on all sides. The enormous marble counter bar extends the length of the restaurant with dark wooden chairs and multi-colored soft seats. The bar is surrounded by leather booths and high-top unfussy seating. Very cool teardrop lighting that emits a subdued glow hangs down across the whole restaurant. A uniquely, striking bar and restaurant.
Even at 5.30pm the place was already busy with eager patrons looking for tables. We started out at the bar with a comforting glass Cote du Rhone – perfect for a chilly evening. I commented to the bartender about the heavy pour, not that I was complaining, she said they do 8 ounce pours of all their wines. A very good reason to go back.
By 6pm my friend had arrived so we moved to one of the high-top tables towards the back of the restaurant – a table perfect for checking out the whole restaurant. The place was now officially packed and with people waiting for tables. A mix of clientele from the finance district crowd to the trendsetters and interested foodies.
The menu is incredibly eclectic with fascinating looking options like fluke ceviche with kaffir lime salt, nuts and spices and grilled squid and fried tentacles with Borlotti beans and vinegar peppers. We decided on a number of small plates and a flatbread to share between the three of us – Local Burrata, Roasted Littlenecks, Fluke Ceviche, Baked artichoke and Lamb Sausage Flatbread.
Our table was so tiny that with wine and water glasses plus side plates we were hard pressed to fit one dish at a time on it. Of course, as happens often, almost everything came out at the same time. It really was quite funny trying to balance plates on your lap to make room for dishes.
Our first taste was of the burrata. It wasn’t as soft or creamy as burrata’s I have had in the past but it was very fresh and nice, especially with the tangy relish smothered onto crusty bread.
I am not usually a fan of littlenecks but my friend insisted I try one as she thought they were fantastic. I have to say I agree. Plump juicy clams in a savory and spicy sauce that tasted hearty and rich. The crusty, toasted bread that accompanied the dish was ideal for dipping into the sauce.
I did eat nearly the whole artichoke myself. Dipped in the tangy tasting lemon alioli made it simply addictive.
The fluke ceviche was probably our favorite dish of the evening. A sharp smack of citrus soaked the tender white fish, which just melted in your mouth with a zing of mellow spices.
The lamb sausage flatbread was interesting. The flatbread itself was good, soft in the middle with crusty edge. A strong manchego made for a perfect companion to the perfectly cooked, flavorful, juicy lamb sausage. What didn’t work was the garlic yogurt, which drowned out what would be wonderful flavors of the flatbread. Sans yogurt it would have been perfect.
Our evening ended with the Taza chocolate budino. A dense mousse of creamy chocolate. The dish created a taste sensation that started out amazingly sweet and rich and then moved onto a super bite of just the right amount of salt. Sadly, the rosemary flavor that came in last on the taste buds was a little too overwhelming and tasted a bit like perfume.
Throughout the evening we did keep having to find a waiter to refill our water and to request more cocktails. The service was very friendly but not as attentive as it should be once food has been delivered. After we asked a few times for water refills we did get a little more attention towards the end of our evening.
Trade is a fun new addition to the Boston bar and dining scene. Although, I wasn’t as excited about some of the dishes, I like the creativity of the menu and I am sure there are going to be many dishes I will try in the future that will truly excite me both in description and taste. For now, I am liking this new location and will definitely be back.