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No, not Toscanini’s B3 ice cream, this is B3, aka Back Bay Beats, one of the best places in Boston to enjoy live music during dinner!
After our first visit, I'm pretty sure we will become regulars at B3, which opened fairly recently (March?). Located next to Berklee College of Music (minimal signage, look for the name projected on the sidewalk), B3 features dinner and live music 7 nights a week performed by Berklee students and alumni. Lunch is also served on weekdays, and Saturday/Sunday brunch as well.
According to our friendly but busy Berklee student waiter, student groups must audition in order to perform at B3, and they receive a honorarium for doing so. This past Tuesday evening we enjoyed a relaxing dinner while listening to a South American student trio, Ricky Pena and Friends, who performed Latin pop and R&B inspired music. We really enjoyed their hour-long performance (tapping our toes and dancing in our seats!), which was apparently their second set of the evening. There is a calendar of future performances on B3's website.
The B3 space is attractive, divided up into 4 sections: an nice bar in front; the "gazebo" (for lack of a better word) where the band performs; a main dining room; and the darker back room. But the restaurants design is such that everyone, no matter where they are seated, can easily see and hear the band. Acoustics were very good!
No dance floor, but I wouldn't be surprised if no one objected to you getting up and doing a little dancing with your date between the tables lol.
Foodwise, I enjoyed what we ordered. The cocktails were interesting and well-made, and there was also interesting and reasonably priced wine list, not to mention a nice list of whiskeys etc (I enjoyed glass of Whistle Pig for $22 to end the meal). Raw Wellfleet oysters and a nice glass of Spanish rose well down very well for a reasonable $2 a pop. The burger may have been overly complex sounding but turned out to be very tasty, although more on the well-done side than the medium temp we ordered. Much of the menu highlights Southern influences, such as the Shrimp and peas I ordered (Creol-spiced head-on shrimp, ham, black eyed peas, collard green minestra, pickled Fresno chilies for $25). A simple but tasty and reasonably sized dish with perfectly cooked shrimp, although be warned that the collard greens are very al dente, more like the texture of a chopped kale salad than traditional collard greens.
Service was unfortunately slow, apparently due to the minimal staffing, although everyone was very pleasant and accomodating. So you need to approach B3 with the right mindset: Relax, slow down, enjoy some cool jams and good libations and forget about the rat race. If you try to rush through dinner, you will not enjoy it (especially if the music hasn't started yet). So despite the slow-paced service, I'm giving B3 full marks because I'm totally in the groove.
All-in-all, good food, very good music and drinks...this place should be much more crowded than it is (only 4 tables and some bar patrons at 8PM on a Tuesday), which is a recurring theme in the commentary I've read.
So please give them some support...we need more good venues to dine and listen in Boston.
But I'm not complaining about being able to sit as close to the band as I want and still be able to converse with with my friends. A welcome change from places like the Beehive.
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