After enjoying a walk and talk tour with MFA to discuss the new installations on the Greenway of the Circle of Animal/Zodiac Heads by Ai Weiwei, we were looking for somewhere to enjoy a nice glass of wine and a bite. Right in front of us in the former Sel de la Terre and City Landing site stood State Street Provisions, a relatively new restaurant opened by the very well known, Grafton Group who also own Park Restaurant & Bar and Russell House Tavern in Cambridge.
My friend thought we should try it, but I did have a slight pause of concern after reading a scathing review of them in the Boston Globe, which spent a lot of the review focusing on a very nasty, unattended to bar brawl back in May. Not good for new business. The reporter posed the question… when is a bar just a bar, and when can it legitimately also be called a restaurant? Fair question for a bar close to Faneuil Hall, Downtown and North Station. In the end, we decided to try it for ourselves.
We walked in around 7.30pm last Monday to find the restaurant very quiet. One or two folks were sat at the bar, perhaps one group in the restaurant and a few more sat outside. I have to say I was impressed with how welcoming it felt, both in the décor with a huge bar surrounded by green seats and high tops and a separate restaurant area for more than casual dining as well as the smiling faces of two young hosts. We decided to sit in the corner of the bar area at one of the high-tops, which had a great view into the open kitchen.
Immediately a waiter came over and asked if we wanted cocktails and if we needed help with the menu. We ordered a glass of wine each and welcomed a fresh serving of rolls made by their very own baker, Amanda Baker – this is seriously her name.
They have an interesting menu of small plates from the traditional Clam Chowder and Lobster Bisque to Boston Baked Beans with braised pork belly and brown sugar crumble and octopus mortadella. However, what stood out for us was the Sriracha-Miso Deviled Eggs, which had quite an unique taste with black olive tapenade and radish sprout. The eggs tasted even better after being sweeped in the tapenade. We both could have gone a little hotter on the Sriracha but enjoyed them nevertheless.
The appetizer menu offers housemade sausages, magret duck carpaccio, steamed mussels and burrata.
In addition, they also have a pantry which offers a selection of cured meats and gourmet cheeses for $18 or $32 for the table a raw bar selection. There is quite a bit going on with the menu before you even get to the entrées, which can make it difficult to decide what to have. We could have just shared a bunch of small plates and appetizers. Perhaps next time.
For our mains, I ordered the Spanish Chorizo pizza, which I loved. I always enjoy ricotta on pizza and this one with its salty sausage and crispy spinach is really very good. I took most of it home for dinner the next night.
My friend Sarah had a hankering for a lobster roll so picked the overly stuffed brioche bun with tarragon and lemon mixed chunks of lobster. They asked her did she want fries or salad or half and half, she went half and half and got a ridiculous amount of food as you can see. This could have easily served us both for appetizers and entrée. It didn’t stop Sarah giving it a great college try with exclamations of “yummy”, particularly the surprisingly good house Caesar.
I honestly do not have anything negative to say about the food. It was solidly good for a Tavern-type restaurant and absolutely in keeping with some of Grafton’s other restaurants, although maybe not Russell House Tavern good. I will say, after our initial non-stop attention from our waiter, he disappeared altogether leaving us with no water refills or an ask if we wanted a second cocktail or how we were doing. Someone finally came over and a bit dismissively asked us if we needed anything. I asked what happened to our waiter and she just said, he got busy. This did let me down a little bit.
I did like the overall feel of the place and I am intrigued by SSP and want to see more of what they can offer so I am heading back with one my teams to see how they treat a larger group.
On this particular evening SSP was definitely a Tavern-style restaurant with a bar attached.
Have you tried State Street Provisions? What do you think?