The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
On The Cheap  |  Restaurant Reviews

North 26

A Jasper White protégé branches out with great success
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  September 30, 2009
4.0 4.0 Stars

MAKING NEW ENGLAND PROUD A Portuguese fisherman’s family would be hard-pressed to craft a better stew.

North 26 | 26 North Street (Millennium Bostonian Hotel), Boston | 617.557.3640 | Open Monday–Friday, 6:30 am–10:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 7 am–10:30 pm | AE, DC, DI, MC, VI | Full bar | Street-level access | Valet parking, $18
I never call chefs before writing a review, but if I did speak with Brian Flagg of North 26, I'd ask him if Jasper White has ever paid a visit. It would be a kind of poetic justice to have White back at the scene of his first real fame, ordering off a menu that draws heavily on a vision he was among the first to articulate: American produce with a French technique. He might even feel mellow enough to forgive the crummy review I gave him for that restaurant where he made his breakthrough, Seasons (which was formerly located in this same hotel, when it was under different management), or the glowing review I am about to give Chef Flagg, a former chef at White's Summer Shack, for doing what amounts to a popularization of White's best notions.

Get started with the bread basket, which is terrific: round slices of sourdough, wedges of sweet cornbread with berries, something like a potato roll. Then move over to the wine list, which has a set of bar bites. Do not under any circumstances miss the chickpea fries ($5). They come in a wire basket, and are much lighter and more spiced -- almost like falafel -- than your grandfather's panisses, even without a hotted-up mayonnaise for a dip.

My favorites of the regular appetizers was cumin-roasted lamb ribs ($12) that were leaner, beefier, and less exotic than the menu description, but so darned good. I also admired the kettle of mussels ($11) for their outstanding buttery broth, best when soaked up by pesto-spread toasts and the rest of the bread basket. Rhode Island--style calamari ($9) was grilled, not fried, and beautifully cut into ribbons, with a tomato sauce and thin disks of polenta. Handmade whole-wheat tagliatelle ($12) tended to break apart too easily, just like commercial whole-wheat pasta, but the flavorings of pancetta, real tomatoes, wild mushrooms, and chard were excellent.

The salads -- arugula ($8) with two fried balls of goat cream cheese and a balsamic dressing, and mixed local greens ($8) filled out with thin slices of radish, bits of asparagus, and pear tomatoes -- were perfectly dressed and you could take them anywhere.

To play on the name, entrée prices stop at $26. The one dish over the price line, New England shellfish stew ($27), is worth every bit of that. It has another broth that demands a second bread basket, and is salty but full of seafood flavors from mussels, clams, a lobster tail, squid, and scallops, plus real Portuguese sausage. The only thing a Portuguese fisherman's family would do better is add more potatoes to balance the salt.

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: El Tapatio, Review: Taam China Glatt Kosher Chinese Cuisine, The Savant Project, More more >
  Topics: Restaurant Reviews , Norah Jones, Culture and Lifestyle, Beverages,  More more >
  • Share:
  • Share this entry with Facebook
  • Share this entry with Digg
  • Share this entry with Delicious
  • RSS feed
  • Email this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Share this entry with Delicious
  •   SOFIA ITALIAN STEAKHOUSE  |  October 28, 2009
    I have to admit I giggled when I got a press release describing this restaurant as being located in the “white-hot West Roxbury-Dedham dining scene.” After all, the space had already killed a reasonably good steak house, Vintage, after a long closure in which it tried to upscale, then ended up downscaling by adding red-sauce Italian dishes.
  •   BUBOR CHA CHA  |  October 21, 2009
    I’m not an enthusiast of fusion food, but I do like the cuisine of Malaysia, where history has developed a four-way fusion cuisine.
  •   PUNJAB PALACE  |  October 15, 2009
    Punjab Palace — by the same owners of Kenmore Square’s India Quality — “proves to be the kind of kid brother that would make any older sibling proud,” my colleague MC Slim JB wrote last year. That’s true, but this is also another second-tier Indian restaurant. So why do Slim and I like it so much?
  •   CON SOL  |  October 14, 2009
    Three-year-old ethnic bargain spot Con Sol snuck under reviewers' radar with an Iberian menu that draws mostly on Portuguese-American food — a cuisine that feels native to long-time Cantabrigians, but otherwise is little known north of New Bedford and Fall River or west of Provincetown.
  •   NORTH 26  |  September 30, 2009
    I never call chefs before writing a review, but if I did speak with Brian Flagg of North 26, I'd ask him if Jasper White has ever paid a visit.

 See all articles by: ROBERT NADEAU

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

Featured Articles in Restaurant Reviews:
  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group