Got by for a drink and a meal tonight. The redesign from Flux is dramatic and quite beautiful, dark blues and leather banquettes and acid-etched concrete floors and white draperies and cobalt blue lighting. The bar area is roomier, the DJ booth sensibly moved behind the hostess stand; big cushy leather banquettes on risers face into the room.
The right-hand dining room features a big communal dining table, more conventional dining seating along the windows, and a lot of low-table, cushy lounge seating. It seems pretty clear that the owners' intentions are more lounge than conventional restaurant. The patrons' priorities clearly seemed to tilt toward drinking, seeing, and being seen first, dining distinctly second.
The menu features raw bar, small thin-crust pizzas, and a lot of small plates, leaning toward seafood, intended for sharing.
There's a fancy cocktail list, an extensive wine list by the glass (average $10-12) and carafe (not available yet), and a schizophrenic bottle list (a bunch in the $30-40 range, a lot $80 and up, few in the middle).
We tried the serrano ham plate, with a few shavings of very good serrano, a big serving of way-above-average marinated mushrooms, an awesome mini hockey puck of battered and fried creamy goat cheese, a tastily-dressed green salad, and some roasted beet strips. That was all really, really good for $12. A pizza of carmelized onions, pesto, and Asiago was similarly very, very tasty, though closer to 9" than the advertised 12", $10.
Onion rings were cleverly stacked on a vertical rack, served with a spicy ketchup. These were big, donut-batter-y, well-fried, pretty good, but $7. Eat 'em while they're hot. A pair of mini-burgers were also decent, larger than I expected (thick and nearly 3" across), served on excellent grilled pointy French dinner rolls, with bacon and condiments of mustard, ketchup, and mayo on the side, $9. We went with the chef's rec of medium rare; one came out perfectly as ordered, the other well done. Mysterious.
Cocktails were pretty well made, though in a place named after the optimum cocktail temperature, both bartenders should be chilling glasses first, especially at $10 a throw (only one did). We also found a nice, light Valpolicalla for $34.
Service was attentive and friendly. An interesting, diverse South End crowd, reflecting more of the old South End than the recent influx of square suburban types. The DJ kept the house music low early in the evening. Unisex bathrooms (undifferentiated private stalls, with communal sinks outside).
An interesting concept, aiming squarely at an unfilled swanky-lounge niche in the South End. I'll be coming back to try the lobster sliders, the $29 12-oz sliced steak, the sushi-like dishes, maybe some raw bar and carafe wines.
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