By Ike DeLorenzo
Among the best-known chefs in Boston, Jody Adams is one of the few to operate (for the past 17 years) only one restaurant: the celebrated Rialto at the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square. The week of Oct. 17, after two decades of winning awards and mentoring many of the city's chefs, Adams is opening a second restaurant called Trade, at Atlantic Wharf next to the InterContinental Hotel.
At a press preview on Thursday, Adams offered a peek -- and a taste -- of Trade's eclectic menu, which will draw its influences "from around the world": marinated fluke with kaffir lime salt, nuts, and spices; pomegranate-glazed eggplant with capers, olives, and pine nuts; whole grilled lobster with pickled-artichoke aioli; and, a favorite of the evening, an inspired buckwheat waffle with fried oyster.
That last appetizer comes to us from South Carolina, by way of Andrew Hebert, who will be head chef at Trade. Hebert served as sous chef at Rialto, and spent the last year in mysterious exile in Charleston, S.C. As the restaurant and the kitchen are in the final stages of construction, members of the press were greeted in one of the unrented, sterile "luxury" apartments above the otherwise spectacularly renovated Atlantic Avenue building, which, until recently, was a construction site. Hebert presided over the provisional kitchen at the event, producing these and other small wonders. Adams and her partners in Trade, Eric Papachristos and Sean Griffing, greeted a crowd of insiders, well-wishers, and members of Boston's food press with wine, food, speeches, and, at last, a tour of the restaurant space now in the final stages of preparation.
The three co-owners make an interesting and good-looking team. Papachristos is perhaps best known for trying to charm DeAnna Pappas in the 2008 season of "The Bachelorette." He and Griffing, who has worked in various management capacities at Rialto, are partners in the Mass. Ave. chicken-and-waffles joint the Hen House.
The corner space occupied by Trade, designed by architect Maryann Thompson, is breathtaking. More Montreal than Boston, it has a sweeping bar, and whimsical constellations of low-intensity lights that are suspended from white sculptured "clouds." The very high ceilings rise above the clouds in brick arches that date to the building's original heyday. The lounge, which will include a communal table, seats 70. The adjacent main dining room will seat about 120. A color scheme of bright yellow, white, and natural brick opens the space even further.
It's obvious a lot of planning has gone into every detail. The press members in attendance were treated to the reasonings behind everything from the chairs (soundproofing is hidden under the seats) to wine storage (slide-out drawers, wines on tap) to analyses of sidewalk foot traffic (Adams and co. stood outside for hours observing).
In the end, such planning may or may not matter. A few hundred yards away, the disorganized Italian restaurant Pasta Beach has managed to succeed quite well on good food alone. In the case of Trade: Adams is famous and adored, the food appears to be great, the space is fun and interesting, and the bar menu is served until 1 a.m. -- 2 a.m. on weekends. These alone should be enough.
Ike DeLorenzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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