By Katie Andrews
1310 Boylston Street, Boston, MA
$4 validated parking available at 1330 Boylston Street (entrance on Jersey street)
Closest T Stop: Fenway (Green Line)
Price: Snacks $5-8, Appetizers $8-11, Entrées $14-22
Vegetarian: Not vegetarian friendly
When the cold weather rolls into Boston, Crock-Pot favorites and a comfortable spot on the couch are often more enticing than a night on the town. But the winter season in New England is anything but short, so it’s best not to let the snow and slush keep you from braving the winter restaurant scene. On a particularly blustery January night, I browsed my options for a table for two that could deliver both comfort food classics and modern libations. Citizen Public House fit the bill.
Citizen, part of the Franklin Restaurant Group that also owns Tasty Burger and the multiple Franklin Cafes (both personal favorites), is a relatively new addition to Boston’s collection of modern oyster houses. What sets Citizen apart is that oysters are more of a side note to both the extensive cocktail list and the eclectic comfort food menu – the restaurant’s specialty is a ‘Whole Roasted Suckling Pig w/ trimmings.’
Considering that it was only my husband Mike and I that night, we decided to save the whole pig for our next visit.
Instead, we started with some cocktails from the vast list of offerings. The first thing you notice on this beverage list is that someone at Citizen has a soft spot for whiskey. The restaurant offers over 100 selections, including a “Whiskey of the Week” and “Whiskey Flights.” However, if you’re looking to start the evening off on a lighter note, the beer and wine offerings are equally vast and reasonably priced. But I had heard that the cocktails were half of the reason to try Citizen, so I started with the Festivus Sling, a delicious and sweet combination of gin, cherry, cinnamon, lime and allspice. Mike was feeling a bit under the weather, so he opted for the appropriately named Doctor’s Orders, a combination of applejack, nutmeg and cider served hot.
Despite the frustrating wait time, both delivered their promised levels of booze and spice, and the slight delay gave us time to peruse the menu. In order to sample as much as possible, we decided to try some of the Snacks. Priced at only $5-8, I expected that they would be relatively small, so we chose two – the Beer Battered Brussels Sprouts with lemon aioli and lemon zest and the Foie Gras PB&J with potato sticks.
After the long wait for the drinks, service picked up, and our “Snacks” were arrived quite quickly.
While these may not have been nutrition school friendly, they were both well worth ordering. The portions were incredibly generous and fit to share. Even though the sprouts were battered and fried, they remained perfectly cooked. The aioli provided a great balance of acid to the greasy exterior. Perhaps fried brussels should replace the traditional side options of onion rings or fries?
Though the combination of foie gras and PB&J may not sound appetizing, the chefs at Citizens pulled this off beautifully. The foie was creamy and rich and the jelly provided the perfect sweet balance. A great starting point for those that may not (yet) be foie gras fans.
Two glasses of wine arrived with our Sunchoke and Arugula salads. Mike chose the Robert Foley Petit Sirah, a vintage that the Franklin Restaurant Group has made for themselves exclusively. I tried the Ballentine Chenin Blanc, a light, balanced French white. The wine was the highlight as the salads were overly dressed with an unecessarily sweet vinaigrette. Given the size of the “Snacks,” next time I will skip the salad and head straight to the entrées.
After our intial perusal of the menu, Mike and I had both chosen the same entrée, the Heritage Pork Tenderloin with herb spaetzel, infused apples, and dijon vermouth. Luckily, the waitress’s reaction to Mike’s questions about the Crispy Fried Chicken with brussels sprout leaves, sweet potato and bbq sauce sealed the deal for him – the sauce is made in-house and the chicken is rubbed with spice both before and after frying.
In the end, we were both treated to delicious dishes. The spicy rub and a slightly sweet BBQ balanced the chicken well. The pork was cooked perfectly, and the dijon balanced the apples which, together with the spaetzle, created a perfect nest for each bite of meat.
As we enjoyed our wine I asked to see a dessert menu. While it turns out they don’t have a printed menu for dessert, the waitress recited Citizen’s signature indulgence: a homemade toffee bread pudding. If I hadn’t just licked the dijon off of my dinner plate, I would have given it a try, and undoubtedbly it would have been delicious.
However that just means we’ll have to return to Citizen another day when we are looking for a well-executed, inventive, and delicious meal. Or just a whiskey tasting.
At the end of the evening, two snacks, two salads, two entrées, two cocktails and two glasses of wine set us back $115 + tip.
*Photos by author
Katie Andrews is a 2nd year Nutrition Communications student finishing her last semester at the Friedman School. An avid blogger and commenter on all controversial things nutrition, you can find her at www.theaspiringrd.com, or keep an eye for her running manically through the halls of Jaharis as she attempts to prepare and apply for her 2012 Dietetic Internship.