One day this summer, I took a beautiful perambulation. I was trying to work off some stress (So far this chapter of my life has a lot of the tiny tragedies in it). I walked from Brookline to the super cinema on the common and I saw Step Up: Revolution. Yes, you read that right. I’m a sucker for a dance movie and really it wasn’t as bad as you might predict. I went to see the film at the awkward afternoon time. It’s a wonderful hour b/c it’s a little cheaper than the evening shows. But for me it’s awkward in timing meals. It was hot and clammy and overcast, and when I left the theater I wanted a drink and a snack and I had all of Boylston Street before me.
For the first time in too long, I went out on the Boston side of the river, and I tried some new places. First stop was Towne Stove and Spirits. I had a glass of wine here and read the menu. I liked the way the bar menu hangs above the bar from little iron clips and I thought it contained some good ideas. Sweet potato fries, white corn tortilla chips, lobster popovers (though I would have been happier if there was lobster in the batter. Rather, popovers are stuffed with lobster salad), fried zucchini sticks, and I was on the fence about the duck quesadillas –could be amazing, could be a waste of duck to bury it in cheese like that. The wine didn’t do much for me, a sort of characterless rosé, but I may have ordered poorly. The cocktail menu had some fun ideas on it as well. Sadly, the decor and vibe at Towne read: everything I don’t like about Boston nightlife. Price point is normal for where it is on the street but I suspect it exceeds the quality. Low ceilings, dark finish, heavy dark wood and leather, neon in the windows give the place an executive man cave feel. Bar staff didn’t really know what to do with a one top who wasn’t ordering food and didn’t really make an effort. The place was packed with similarly attractive people who all wear clothes that indicate jobs I mostly don’t want. All in all not my vibe, but if you want to be seen in a typical Boston young professional scene, get your booty over there.
I was debating where to have a meal (Happy’s vs. Sweet Cheeks Q), but I also wanted to make this a true crawl. Two places just doesn’t say crawl to me. So I made a last minute decision to go to the Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar. If they are open while you are reading this post, I suggest that you stop reading and go now. Yes, it’s that good. Wonderful friendly staff. Amiably crowded joint with an ingenious standing room area. I’m sure it’s imperfect and could get uncomfortable for a long, long wait on a crowded night, but it was totally pleasant for me. I mingled a bit with my elbow neighbors, but there was the right blend of attentiveness and leaving me alone among every human there. I had the cucumber Collins which was a little sweet for me, but it is low booze and was totally thirst quenching on that hot night. And a crispy oyster BLT slider, which was perfect. Not just perfect for me at the moment, perfect. It was served hot. The filling to bun ratio was spot on. The oyster and the bacon were both crispy and the accompanying slaw and dressing were flavorful and applied in the right ratio. I could have easily (if regrettably) eaten at least eight of them. Go eat there. I think it will make you happy.
My last stop was Tiffani Faison’s place Sweet Cheeks Q. Oh! I can’t tell you how much I wanted to like this place. I like and admire Tiffani Faison. Here’s the issue, barbecue is personal. I respect that there are flavors and styles out there that are good, even if I don’t like them and this is that case with Sweet Cheeks. I can say that at meat is tender with good smoke and the flavors are bold. The pickles are good. The hush puppies are too sweet, fine grained and perfectly round for me (I would have preferred a coarser corn meal), and alas, I did not like the sauces. Still, it’s worth a try to see if it matches your palate and the friendly staff and ample outdoor seating options make it great for listening to a game or enjoying these Indian Summer nights.