Thursday night 7:30pm, and the place is packed. Old Appetito space completely redone, re-oriented. You enter by the second Appleton St door (original front door nearer to Tremont now not used), with bar straight ahead of you and most seating ranging to the right. Very sparse, bare decor: a white-out of stark melamine with a few gray accents. Somewhat uncomfortable (hard), 60s-modern barstools. Strong cocktails very competently done: the Mule ordered straight up tastes like a Margarita straight up should taste like (but almost never does).
20-minute wait for table accurately predicted. Brisk, very efficient service. Pan-fried dumpling appetizer of smallish, nicely crunchy/chewy minced-pork rolls won't make anyone forget Chinatown, but the dipping sauce saves it. Entrees: a very competently done pasta primavera in a basil and cream sauce. An extremely tasty chipotle meatloaf (real chilli fire in the glaze, wonderful!) with excellent mashed potatoes and just-underdone broccoli and cauliflower. A plate of homemade-tasting cookies (choco chip, oatmeal/raisin, peanut butter) with milk for dipping.
All this, plus a beer, comes to $39 with tax, a very nice surprise. My take: *if* they can deliver the same quality of food and very good (if breathless) service night after night at these prices, it will be a smash, and I will come back a lot.
Flux reminds me of several of my other favorites in the low end, generally bars-with-better-than-average food, e.g., Audobon, Silvertone, B-Side, Franklin, Deluxe. The food seems just a tiny notch below these places, and with the ultra-stark decor, it lacks their atmosphere. But those are quibbles, and no smoking is actually a positive differentiator here, at least during dinner.
This is competently-done, no-frills dining in a comfortable but noisy setting, a really nice addition in a neighborhood with too few budget-priced options beyond Greek pizza. Now if only they can duplicate this very pleasing first experience again and again...