James Beard Awards Season
The Oscars brought some drama this year and we were all shocked, but food folks have gotten over that and have their sights set on the upcoming James Beard Awards (aka the Oscars of the food world). The long list of nominees spans numerous fields from chefs to restaurant designers to journalists and many more. This year, the James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast, & Journalism Awards dinner, celebrating the best in food media, will be held in New York City on April 26th and the James Beard Awards Gala, honoring chefs, restaurants, and designers, will be held in Chicago on May 2nd.
According to the James Beard Foundation, the Awards were created in 1990 to “recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and emphasize the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire.”
The full list of 2017 semifinalists can be found here. Boston (including Cambridge and Somerville) is well represented on the list of nominees in the chef and restaurant categories. If you are thinking about scoping out any of the contenders, we are here to brief you on what they are serving up.
Best New Restaurant semifinalist
SRV, standing for Serene Republic of Venice, offers traditional Venetian food with a modern twist in Boston’s South End. Enjoy small bites, pasta made from house-milled flour, risotto that’s made to order, and an exclusively Italian wine list. Buon appetito!
Address: 569 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA 02118
Outstanding Service semifinalist and
Garrett Harker, semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur
This Kenmore Square staple has a classy French Brasserie feel and a spacious bar area that includes high booths. They offer American and French fare, with a raw bar and daily charcuterie offering, along with an inspired cocktail menu. If you can save room for dessert, and we highly suggest you do, the Butterscotch Bread Pudding is a must.
Address: 528 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215
Ken Oringer, semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur
Tony Messina, semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast
Uni is located in the Eliot Hotel in the Back Bay and calls itself a “contemporary izakaya.” They serve small plates inspired by global street food and offer a range of makimono, nigiri, and sashimi. They also have a variety of sake for you to explore. On Friday and Saturday nights they bust out their ramen moves so be ready to join a crowd trying to get some if you head over for a bowl.
Address: 370 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215
Irene Li, semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year
Mei Mei had humble beginnings as a food truck and soon sky rocketed in popularity. They serve innovative Chinese-American cuisine that is made from locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. They are known for the Double Awesome, a scallion pancake sandwich with oozy eggs.
Address: 506 Park Dr, Boston, MA 02215
Juan Pedrosa, semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year
If you want to feel like a cool cat, check this place out! Located in the Downtown Crossing neighborhood, this extremely chic spot identifies as a “modern supper club.” They serve cosmopolitan cuisine, each dish proving thoughtful in its combination of ingredients and flavors. The cocktail menu also has character with offerings such as “Corn & Oil,” “Enchanted Catnip,” and “Trinidad Sour.”
Address: 2 Winter Pl, Boston, MA 02108
Karen Akunowicz, semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast
As you might have gathered from previous posts, we are a fan of Joanne Chang. She and her husband, Christopher Myers, opened Myers + Chang together in Boston’s South End and have been serving Taiwanese soul food and Southeast Asian street food that has drawn a huge fan base. The open kitchen is a spectacle and so are the dishes that appear one after the next on your table. We encourage you to try the fried chicken and ginger waffles.
Address: 1145 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118
Alex Crabb, semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast
This place offers a comfortable, laid back environment with exposed brick walls, but the flavors on their “upscale new American” menu are elevated. They only offer prix fixe tasting menu dining, with options for three-, five- and eight-courses for guests to choose from. The menus rotate but you can view a sample menu on their website.
Address: 47 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115
Ana Sortun, semifinalist for Outstanding Chef
Maura Kilpatrick, semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef
This Eastern Mediterranean restaurant, run by a team of inspirational women, is one of the city’s hidden gems. Tucked away in a residential neighborhood in Cambridge, Oleana serves wildly creative dishes using spice combinations that enliven your palate. Be sure to try the Sultan’s Delight (Tamarind Beef, Smokey Eggplant Purée, and Pine nuts), the Spinach Falafel with tahini and beet yogurt, and most importantly, the Baked Alaska. It is sure to put a smile on your face!
Address: 134 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139
Marc Sheehan, semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast
If you want to feel connected to where your food is coming from this is the perfect place for you, as at Loyal Nine they have cultivated strong relationships with farmers and artisans. Loyal Nine operates both a café and restaurant. The café serves ethically sourced coffees and teas, while the restaurant focuses on New England culinary traditions. For dinner you can order a la carte or have a shared supper for the table that the kitchen prepares specially for you.
Address: 660 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141
Susan Regis, semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast
This cool spot between Harvard and Porter Squares lives in the spot that was previously occupied by Chez Henri. At Shepard the menus are French-inspired and constantly changing based on what is available locally and in season.
Address: 1 Shepard St, Cambridge, MA 02138
Cassie Piuma, semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast
This vibrant restaurant combines flavors from the Mediterranean and the Middle East and takes your taste buds to another level. Sarma translates to “a bundle of food that is bite sized and served as a meze,” and this is exactly how they serve their dishes—to share!
Address: 249 Pearl St, Somerville, MA 02145
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