It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
Actually, it is just the best of times on the Newton restaurant scene. Our fair city has seen .
A couple of Newton restaurants have also seen internal changes. Both BOKX 109 American Prime and B Street Restaurant and Bar saw new chefs taking the helm over the summer. Patch caught up with these culinary leaders to hear more about how they would be putting their personal touches on established restaurants and what we can look forward to on their menus.
Chef Stephen Coe- BOKX 109 American Prime
There is a reason why Coe is so intense and passionate about food. While he first found his way into cooking via his grandfather’s South Shore donut shop, he “made his bones” in the competitive culinary world.
Even more impressive is that he began this journey at the age of 14.
“I went through South Shore Voc-Tech’s Culinary Program,” Coe says. “They have a full-throttle restaurant, with three chefs running it. They sent you out into the industry; it was pretty aggressive for a kid to go out like that!”
It was kismet that Coe would find his way back to BOKX. He worked as a sous chef under Chef Even Percoco when the steakhouse opened four years ago, and Coe was the college roommate of most recent BOKX chef, Jarrod Moiles, when the two attended Johnson and Wales.
But Coe sees himself as now bringing BOKX’s menu back to its original intent.
“I’m bringing back the classics, like the Decon 3 (prime rib three ways),” Coe states. “Redefining what our recipes were originally. It’s heavier on technique and with a stronger flavor profile. And I’m bringing back a scratch kitchen, which you don’t see as much these days.”
Coe intends to keep the menu at BOKX “seasonal and local,” as well as lowering some of the price points to make the restaurant more accessible to a wider audience. He sees his role as not just being back-of-the-house but as being the face of the restaurant. With this in mind, Coe plans to hand-deliver to his guests appetizers and amuse-bouches as a way of introducing them to the idea that “food should have an element of surprise.”
Highlights of Chef Coe’s fall menu at BOKX 109 include Smoke Show! (pear and mascarpone sacchetti, mustard fruit, chive cream); Wood Grilled Octopus Carpaccio (arugula, picked red onion, tarragon, lemon vinaigrette); Duck Fat Poached Sweet Breads (sorrel puree, frisee, crispy apple); Rabbit Trio (confit leg, bacon-wrapped loin, French rack, stewed butter beans, peperonata); Brick Chicken Tagine (curried cous cous, almonds, apricots, dates, raisin agro dolce); Frozen Lemon Semi Freddo (Pop Rocks, raspberry leather, blueberry soda); and Levitate! (flourless chocolate cake, chocolate mousse funnel, tuille cookie, caramel popcorn)
Chef Collin Davis- B Street Restaurant and Bar
Chef Collin Davis also got some of his food-related background working with his grandfather (the two would fish together in Davis’ native Maine), but that is where the similarity with Chef Coe ends.
While working on a degree in Renaissance Poetry at Kenyon College (after attending Milton Academy for high school), Davis found his way into the restaurant business when he began working at The Middle Ground Cafe in Gambier, Ohio.
“I started as a barista and by necessity one day moved to the back of the house,” recalls Davis. “Everything was farm to table, which is oddly difficult in Ohio [where] everything is big agribusiness farms. So I’d see a delivery truck from our big organic distributor pull up right next to an Amish buggy. It was pretty cool.”
After five years in Ohio, Davis was ready to move on and extend his hands-on culinary education and “training by fire.” In 2008, he moved to the Boston area and did stints at restaurants including Toro, Think Tank, the Franklin Café and Franklin Southie.
Davis sees the food he creates as being “what [he] would want to eat, but what customers want to eat, too.” In fact, one of his signature dishes on the B Street menu – spaghetti and meatballs – came from his home kitchen.
“I made those for the first time for my girlfriend,” Davis shares. “The meatballs on the menu here are exactly the meatballs I made for her and she liked. One of my favorite parts of my job is that I get to make 100 people a day happy. If I’m lucky, I get to make them so happy that they remember the meal for a long time.”
Davis’ favorites on the fall menu at B Street include Butternut Squash Bisque (dressed with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil); Harvest Salad (with apples, pears, hazelnuts, butternut squash and cider vinaigrette); Big Meatball (appetizer)/Spaghetti and Meatballs (entrée) (veal, pork and beef meatball(s) with five cheeses and a homemade ragu); Oven-baked Local Cod (topped with cornbread and blue crab stuffing, with green beans, roasted tomatoes and an Old Bay hollandaise sauce); Pan-seared Diver Scallops (with a fingerling and honey crisp apple hash, butternut squash puree and tiny greens and chorizo); Heritage Pork Tenderloin (with apple cider braised kale, baby brussel sprouts and an apple butter); and Duck Two Ways (crispy duck breast and confit of duck thigh atop curried beluga lentils with wilted chard and pomegranate seeds).