For those of you who were familiar with the long-closed Townsend's in Hyde Park, you may seem to recall that it was a warm and friendly Irish spot with a gorgeous interior and a great little bar. Well, Townsend's is indeed history, but the restaurant that has taken over its space--The Fairmount Grille--is in some ways even better, with some truly outstanding food and a few upgrades to the space that make it even more appealing than it had been. And like the hidden gem that preceded it, this dining and drinking spot is also almost completely unknown except to those who live in the immediate area (and those who are in the know).
The Fairmount Grille sits near the eastern edge of Logan Square, which is a few blocks east of what is basically the "center" of Hyde Park (Cleary Square). Its location on a relatively lesser-traveled street near the foot of the quiet and mainly residential Fairmount Hill area makes it very easy to miss, especially since the signage--much like that of Townsend's--isn't all that prominent. The interior of the eatery is much more interesting than the rather plain exterior is, with a spacious dining area (including a huge working fireplace and a large old-fashioned clock above it) and a cozy bar on the ground floor, and a smaller but peaceful and comfortable dining area on the second floor. Attractive hanging lights, lots of dark woods, and a hardwood floor all add character to the downstairs area, while the upstairs area has some couch seating along with tables that can be moved together for larger groups and parties.
While Townsend's offered a mix of New American, classic American, and Irish fare, The Fairmount Grille tends to focus on inventive comfort food and New American dishes, so there are some similarities here and there. Some of the highlights on the menu include (depending on the season) an outstanding calamari plate with banana peppers, sweet chili, and lime; a decadent green bean poutine with bacon dust, mozzarella cheese, and gravy; a rather invigorating carrot and ginger bisque with a touch of honey; crisp but slightly chewy steak and cheese eggrolls with peppers and onions; wings and tenders with a variety of sauces, including a moderately hot buffalo sauce; a solid version of a Cubano with ham, jerk pork, pickles, pepperjack cheese, and honey mustard mayo in a crusty grilled bread; a tremendous (and reasonably-priced) lobster BLT in a lightly-grilled flour tortilla; a wonderfully flaky baked haddock cooked in white wine and butter and with a side of earthy-tasting pesto rice pilaf; dry-rubbed St. Louis-style BBQ ribs with terrific handcut fries; a huge plate of macaroni and cheese with three cheeses, cracker crumbs, and added options such as steak tips, seafood, and chicken; a thick slab of meatloaf with plenty of brown gravy and sides of onion rings, green beans, and mashed potatoes; a fisherman's stew with clams, shrimp, mussels, and haddock; and chicken parmigiana with a thick cut of chicken and a chunky red sauce. Drinks at The Fairmount Grille include a decent variety of wines, a number of craft beers, and an array of cocktails and martinis, while desserts include one of the best carrot cakes this writer has had in the Boston area.
Townsend's may be just a memory, but it is nice that an equally great (or perhaps better?) spot has taken its place. And while Hyde Park isn't really a dining destination compared to other Boston neighborhoods, there are signs that the restaurant scene here is coming to life; if so, The Fairmount Grille is certainly at the forefront of any boom that may take place.
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