I love everything about living in Back Bay.
I love the constant hustle and bustle of tourists and residents roaming the eclectic mix of boutiques, shops, and restaurants, the never-ending parade of Italian sports cars vying for the pissing contest gold, the big hair and small dogs of Back Bay’s ritziest residents walking through the street, and the dizzying array of dining options within ten steps from our front door. I even love our apartment, which more than makes up for its small size with an overabundance of sass and charm that suits us and our spoiled cat perfectly.
We’re so settled and content here that we’ve carved out the same routines everyone has in their neighborhoods – gyms, cleaners, laundromats, grocery stores, and restaurants. All of this is fantastic, but we’ve recently realized that in taking extreme advantage of our location we might be missing out on the other great opportunities our city has to offer.
So last weekend, I put my foot down and bought a Groupon for a NEW restaurant. I said to Ryan and our friend Sethiford, “Boys, TONIGHT…tonight, we try something NEW.” And then after buying the Groupon, I realized that this mysterious restaurant was located in…Back Bay. Oh, and the Groupon wasn’t even valid on weekends. So much for THAT little plan.
At least now we have another neighborhood restaurant to frequent when we feel like walking ten blocks instead of two.
33 Stanhope Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
For starters, The Brahmin has outdoor seating, which is pretty cool. As soon as I stepped foot inside this place, I knew I’d love it. It was warm and cozy, with dim lighting, exposed brick walls, a hearty wooden bar, and rich leather sofas and chairs sporadically placed throughout.
(Sorry for the blurry photos, I was trying to be inconspicuous.)
I guess The Brahmin was designed to look like a Back Bay brownstone, so it had home-y touches everywhere that combined the feel of a lounge and living room. I especially liked the art on the walls.
It’s your classic gastropub, serving handcrafted cocktails and fine dining twists on American favorites in a “vintage chic” atmosphere. I’m still a big fan of the trend, so I dig it.
The clientele was comprised mostly of young professionals in their mid- to late-twenties. We went around 9pm, and it was pretty crowded already. The music was loud, but you could still have a conversation over it. As the night progressed, the music got louder and it became evident that dinner was coming to a close. Around 10pm, they started clearing furniture out of our area to make room for a dance floor – a great idea in theory, but kind of irritating when you’re trying to finish your dinner. If I go back, I’ll plan my night with the changeover in mind.
Otherwise, a great atmosphere. The music was mostly Top 40, with a few oldies-but-goodies from the 80s and early 90s.
A note on service: really not the best. The waitress was super nice, but she didn’t seem knowledgeable about the menu and she wasn’t very attentive (it took her 45 minutes to bring us the check, for example). The dragging pace of the meal is what kept us there until they started moving furniture out of the way for the dance floor, which resulted in several bobbing tables delivering harsh smacks to my shoulders and chair. After this happened three times, one of the guys moving the tables saw me make a face and apologized, but COME ON. I’m not saying The Brahmin is crazy expensive or ritzy, but prices suggest that I can expect not to get decapitated while eating my dessert. It put a major damper on the evening.
But again, next time we’ll just go earlier.
And word to the wise – MAKE RESERVATIONS. This place fills up quickly, and it’s almost impossible to get in on Friday or Saturday without them.
I went with these two fools.
[Picture of KnightlyBoyfriend and Sethiford - wearing matching button-downs, I might add - removed because, in Ryan's words, "I seriously look like I was sleeping because I was drunk, then slapped in the face with lemon and habanero sauce." Well, ok then.]
Rumor has it that The Brahmin has great cocktails, so naturally we started with those.
I had the Saltonstall, a mixture of Maker’s Mark, raspberry puree, fresh-squeezed lime, simple syrup, and soda water.
It looks fruity, but it was stiff and just lovely. It tasted like a whiskey sour with a nice undercurrent of raspberry that enhanced the sour flavor and complemented the sweetness of the whiskey.
KnightlyBoyfriend ordered the Crowningshield Manhattan, for which the addition of St. Germain brought a new twist to a classic favorite.
Although it sounds like a strange combination, the notes sweetness from the St. Germain was delicious! It was the perfect amount to add another dimension to the drink – not overpowering at all.
Sethiford ordered the red sangria.
The sangria was on the sweet side, but it tasted like ripe, bursting fresh berries. If you normally like sangria, you’ll like the refreshing flavor of this one.
The Brahmin’s menu is one of small plates, with a few sandwiches, burgers, and entrees thrown in for good measure, so patrons can opt for a tapas-style or traditional entree dinner. After perusing the menu, we decided on the former because everything looked so good.
We ordered the Tuna Two Ways:
The tuna was perfectly fresh. I’m still not sure how I feel about the tuna/melon, but it was an interesting combination. The tartar was seasoned with sweet ginger and soy, and the wasabi aioli was spicy but not at all overpowering on the tuna.
The sizzling spicy shrimp:
The buttery sauce had whole peppers just chillin’ in the skillet, heating it up. I wished we had more bread to soak up the spicy, garlicky sauce.
Sausage-stuffed arancini with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, and roasted garlic.
I love arancini, and these did not disappoint. I was hoping for nice ribbons of sweet, caramelized onion and chunks of Italian sausage, but the flavors were not distinguishable. Regardless, the arancini were typical arancini – cheesy, crunchy, and delicious.
Fried pickles with a sweet red pepper sauce:
If I had to guess, I would say these pickles are house-made. They had a subtle sweetness to them that went well with the red pepper aioli. They were flakier and more delicate than the pickles at Stoneforge, but I think I prefer the brinier flavor and thicker crust of the Stoneforge pickles a little better. These were good, though.
The filet mignon bruschetta with fresh mozzarella and tomato-avocado salsa:
The steak was nice and tender and the tomato-avocado salsa added great flavor.
Finally, the grilled pork tenderloin with colcannon (a mashed potato and cabbage mixture) and habanero applesauce (whole order shown).
This dish was remarkable. The tenderloin was cooked to impossibly tender perfection. The exterior was a crust of sweet apple glaze greatly enhanced by the habanero applesauce. By the way, the habanero applesauce? Oh. Em. Gee. I have never tasted anything like it. It was infused with the habaneros – you could taste every note of the spicy pepper, but there was no burn left on the tongue. I don’t even know how that’s possible.
The dessert menu isn’t online, so here it is:
I had the chocolate banana bread pudding, because there’s nothing in the world I love more than bread pudding. Except bread pudding that contains some combination of chocolate and bananas. And a sexy, robust rum sauce…but I suppose that’s just getting greedy.
It was more like traditional bread pudding than the usual congealed block of bread custard. It was quite good, but I’m still on the prowl for the perfect Southern-style bread pudding in New England.
Overall we left very impressed. The drinks were delicious, and the food was all above par. The pork tenderloin was exceptional. We were expecting this to be a similar scenario to Storyville, but were pleasantly surprised by the quality of everything we consumed. The reason behind the great experience at The Brahmin is BALANCE – the drinks had the perfect balance of alcohol and cordials and the ingredients in the food all had a purpose. No one flavor trumped or competed with another.
The execution of recipes was purposeful, leading to a really delightful meal. I wish we had stayed to boogie down afterward. I’m happy the Groupon gives me a reason to return; all three of us are already looking forward to going back.
After waiting for at least 45 minutes, it arrived in this:
My squeal of delight was stifled when I opened it.
Ah, well. You can’t win ‘em all.
The total for three people (6 dishes, 3 drinks) was $115.07, and included:
- Crowningshield ($9.35)
- Saltonstall ($11.21)
- Sangria ($7.48)
- Bread pudding ($8)
- Fried pickles ($5)
- Shrimp ($12.50)
- Arancini ($10)
- Tuna ($14)
- Filet bruschetta ($10)
- Tenderloin ($20)
- Tax ($7.53)
Summary of this Knight at the Restaurant
- MAKE RESERVATIONS – the line starts backing up around 9pm, especially in the summer.
- If you go for dinner only, go at 8pm or earlier or you might have to mind your head for the sea of moving furniture.
- Everything we had, from drinks to dessert, was enjoyable. Order whatever looks good and you’ll probably leave happy.
- Even for the entrees, portion size is smaller. We ordered five small plates and one entree to split between the three of us (two big guys and me, who has the appetite of a big guy) and we left satisfied. Not OMGSTUFFED, but satisfied.
Final Rating: 4.3/5.0
Where have you “branched out” (or not) lately?
Review: The Brahmin,