First of all, what a warm inviting room. With a color scheme of cream, light blue and oak, you step into the soft glow of table candles and globe lighting, a coffered ceiling and woodwork that mirrors the Brookline Colonial Revival houses throughout the town. A wall banquette wraps around the room, with two larger booths in the tall front windows. On one side is a communal table down the middle and on the other, a dark wood bar.
As big fans of Tim Maslow at Ribelle, I had first been intrigued by Fairsted chef Scott Osif when I saw his opening menu and that it had a style in common with R. Each chef has more set ups on their menu- than another three restaurants might have when combined. I.e. each plate doesn't just have a different protein/main focus ; they also each have a different starch, veggie, sauce.... Gone is the bistro tradition of being limited to choosing between a starch or two and a few veggies. In this new style, the kitchen certainly is taxed more but it makes for a very exciting dining experience, and the chefs really get more of a chance to show off their diversity chops. Aside from the flavors, I would say that the main differences betweeen Fairsted and Ribelle are that Fairsted's preparations are much more straightforward and Ribelle's are much more involved and time consuming. And whereas R fusses with its visual small plate presentations and garnishes, F does not put much attention on presentation.
With a post-hibernation appetite, we ended up having three 'snacks/sides' ($8) and five small plates($13). Not one was a loser. Culinary influences ran from Spain, Morocco, France, Germany, Scandinavia, to Armenia and Asia (though Asian wasn't really present except in a dipping sauce.)The Carrot Salad with Pine Nuts, and the White Beans with Squid and Squid Ink Aioli were certainly favs, but so were the Croquettes with Harissa Aioli , and the Maitake Mushrooms with Sherry Tarragon Vinaigrette, and the Sumac cured Gravlax. Salt Cod Fritters with Smoked Tomato, Cumin dusted Lamb Ribs, and Rabbit Gruyere Herb Spaetzle rounded out the evening. My only food complaint was that some of the proteins (rabbit, squid) were rather scant. As regards the bar, Reds by the glass were well curated, and craft cocktails were imaginative and intriguing (the name alone almost got me to try a Blood on the Tracks.) Dessert choices were Chocolate Mousse and Pumpkin Custard but we passed on them.
We left behind so many of our fav food components that we look forward to trying them on the Large Plates when we return: skate, Jerusalem artichoke, celeriac, freekeh, wild mushrooms, smoked duck.....
Service was excellent and well informed about the menu. The music playlist was particularly good for our taste and the noise level was reasonable. The room was so visually warm and comfortable on a chilly Winter night, we didn't really want to leave. I think we'll linger longer, maybe with coffee and sweets, on our next visit. I mean, when you're being taken care of this well, why go somewhere else?