By Sarah Gold
605 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA
Hours: 11a-11p M-S
Parking: 2 hour street parking available and 1 free lot a few blocks down. Closest T-stop: Green St (orange line)
Price: $7-$12 for burgers, fries $4
Vegetarian: vegetarian options available
When the neighborhood favorite brunch spot, Bon Savor, closed last year, I knew it wouldn’t be long before someone scooped up the prime Centre street real estate down the block from Jamaica Pond. Within a few months of closing, the signs of construction and new ownership began. After wondering for weeks what was happening behind the brown-paper covered storefront windows, I passed by in mid February and there was a sign on the door! Grass Fed. A local meat shop? Or a restaurant? I immediately went to Google. A new burger joint, from Ten Tables’ Krista Kranyak. Normally I would not be very excited about a burger place, but when I read that they would only be serving locally sourced (and obviously grass fed) meat and craft beer, I was intrigued!
After much anticipation, and several teased opening dates, Kranyak announced the grand opening date via Twitter – Wednesday, March 28th. I couldn’t wait to try my new neighborhood spot, and it was clear, neither could anyone else. On Thursday night I ventured in to the 21-seat burger and beer bar and immediately felt the energy and excitement. JP residents are hungry for a new place, and this new casual dining spot drew a large crowd very representative of neighborhood residents. The seats were filled and hungry patrons milled around the open center of the restaurant, drinking their craft beer and “adult” milkshakes, hoping to snag a seat before their name was called and their burger arrived.
My friend, Allison, and I mulled over the menu, which features a standard 5oz (props for an appropriate portion size!) grass fed burger with optional add-ons, along with a host of specialty burgers and two very interesting takes on a veggie burger – the chickpea burger and the mushroom burger. All the beef is ground on site, and condiments are house made. Not in the mood for a burger? No problem. They also offer salads, sandwiches, and hot dogs. Though, I don’t know why you would go there for anything but a burger. Prices range from $7 – $12; very reasonable for a Vermont-sourced, grass fed burger. Fries are an add-on, and you can get them plain, with truffle oil, spicy, or you can opt for beet fries instead. It was a tough choice with so many interesting burger combinations, but I settled on the Cali burger (avocado, jack cheese, mesclun, red onion, and cilantro-lime aioli), and Allison went with the Blue Devil (stuffed with Stilton blue cheese, bacon, and crispy fried onions) and we shared a side of their hand cut fries. I paired it with a nitro milk stout from their diverse craft beer list, sure to make any beer connoisseur happy.
Beers in hand we joined the group of hawks waiting for a vacated seat, and eventually fought our way to one seat and enough bar space to set down our beers. We were lucky to get a spot right next to an area to put our jackets and bags down. I wouldn’t recommend coming straight from school with your backpack and gym bag in tow.
Considering the high traffic volume, our wait for the burgers to arrive wasn’t too long. It gave us just enough time to finish one beer. But, if you want another, you might be reminded that this is not a bar and you have to order food with your beer. When our burgers arrived, I couldn’t wait to dive in. I took my first bite and immediately realized there was no avocado (the reason I ordered this burger!). When I let them know this, they quickly took it back and offered me a drink on the house. I’ll chalk it up to first week troubles, and they handled it extremely well.
When the burger returned, the “avocado” was more like guacamole – not the slices of avocado I was expecting. Regardless, the flavors of all the add-ons mixed perfectly together, and the cilantro-lime aioli added a nice touch, but didn’t overwhelm the burger. Sadly, however, it was completely overcooked. I was a little concerned when the cashier didn’t ask how I wanted my burger cooked, but I figured if you’re serving up organic, grass fed beef, you’re not going to overcook it. That was my mistake. It’s unfortunate because I could still tell that this was a quality piece of meat. Allison’s burger was very well done and it was not “stuffed” with blue cheese as the menu implies– the cheese was on top. The fries, on the other hand, were perfectly crisp, and the house made BBQ and ketchup were great accompaniments.
With all the anticipation, I had high hopes for Grass Fed. I still do. But, they have some kinks and growing pains to work though. I expected a large crowd on day two of the restaurant opening and I was prepared for a long wait, but I don’t think the kitchen was quite prepared for the volume. I think when they are able to offer to-go orders (they are waiting for special permits for this), some of the crowd and seating issues will be naturally solved. I envision a burger to-go down by Jamaica pond on a warm spring or summer evening.
With their fantastic menu and welcoming atmosphere, I will be back for a second try. But I will definitely wait a month or two for them to sort out some of the organization and kitchen issues first.
*Photos 2 and 3 by author
Sarah is a second year student completing a dual degree in Nutrition Communication and the Didactic Program in Dietetics. Through her writing Sarah hopes to share her passion for nutrition, good food and exercise. Sarah enjoys running, teaching spin, and testing out new recipes to share with friends and family! Read more from Sarah at www.foodandfitnessfriend.com.