Tasting Boston with Chef Barbara Lynch
It’s not very often that you get to spend time in the company of an acclaimed chef, dining your way through a string of her notable restaurants, which also happen to be in her hometown. I had the pleasure of spending a day—one that lasted from afternoon until late in the evening—with Boston-based chef Barbara Lynch. Over the years, this award-winning chef has risen steadily through the ranks, from her very first cooking job at the age of just 13 to working in high-profile kitchens across Boston. Today, she’s at the helm of the Barbara Lynch Collective, a restaurant group clustered around Boston’s Seaport and South End neighborhoods. For Chef Lynch, food is more than just a meal that sustains. “Cooking is about focusing on the basics,” she says. “It's about being in the kitchen with family and friends, preparing a meal together, working alongside each other, teaching one another and getting inspired from what you see. It fosters community, encourages collaboration and leads to innovation. Based on my experience, the kitchen and dining table are settings for creative thinking and have always given me space for my imagination to run wild. As a self-taught chef, gathering over preparing a meal is what keeps me inspired and keeps my creative juices flowing.” You too can spend a day (or maybe a few) chez Lynch savoring some of her signature dishes, including the freshest local oysters and delectable homemade pasta, if you make the trip to Boston and retrace the steps of our extraordinary culinary tour.
This article originally appeared in ROSE & IVY Journal No.10
Situated on a leafy green street in the South End, Stir is the ideal choice for food lovers who want to gather with like-minded diners to experience a meal introduced by a cooking demonstration. Modeled after Lynch’s own kitchen, this intimate space has just ten seats tucked around a large island, where a changing series of chefs walk you through what they will be preparing. Named after her first cookbook, Stir devises menus based upon themes like ‘Northern Italy’ versus ‘Southern Italy’, or recipes from visiting authors who prepare dishes drawn from their own cookbooks. On this particular afternoon, we savored fluffy homemade ricotta gnudi with sweet spring peas, mushrooms and garlic scapes, cooked in a light white wine and butter sauce (see recipe following). Visit Stir’s website to book your seat at the table.
Directly across from Stir is B&G Oysters, Chef Lynch’s take on an oyster bar. Each day you’ll find twelve different varieties of fresh oysters available at the raw bar in this airy, laid-back space. The menu also includes iconic New England favorites like lobster rolls, clam chowder and fried clams from Ipswich, plus other tempting seafood entrees like pan-roasted halibut and charred octopus. There is also an edited wine list created by the Executive Wine Director of the Barbara Lynch Collective, Cat Silirie, a close friend of Chef Lynch.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, No.9 Park is the restaurant that put Chef Lynch on the culinary map. Located adjacent to picturesque Boston Common in Beacon Hill, this award-winning restaurant serves a 7-course tasting menu as well a variety of á la carte offerings. The menu, rooted in French and Italian cuisine, rotates seasonally to take advantage of the best local produce and seafood. During our visit, we sampled a mouth-watering stone fruit salad paired with marinated rock shrimp and avocado mousse served on a bed of gem lettuce. Prune-stuffed gnocchi followed, a decadent concoction that tasted like buttery Fig Newtons sprinkled with sea salt and almonds, all accompanied by a Beach Daze, a delicious cocktail that blends gin, pineapple, peach and Falernum.
Located in a historic brick building in the Fort Point neighborhood, Menton is Chef Lynch’s homage to the city of Menton, France, and it’s the only recipient of the Relais & Chateaux award in Boston. The main dining room recently got a makeover to match the aesthetic of the neighborhood; it went from formal white tablecloths to uncovered wooden tables and textured stucco walls the color of concrete. We gathered at the Chef’s Table, located next to the kitchen, to enjoy the strawberry gazpacho, a refreshing soup with tangy pickled peppers, then it was on to the king crab scented with aromatic vadouvan, a French-style curry, and topped with Osetra Caviar—in a word, decadent.
Looking for an intimate dining experience or an idea for your next gathering? Book the Chef’s Table on their website.
If you’re craving homemade pasta, you won’t want to miss Sportello, located right next to Menton. Sportello, which translates to “counter service” in Italian, is Chef Lynch’s interpretation of an Italian trattoria. Her famous tagliatelle in a rich bolognese sauce, a dish that she learned to prepare in Italy, is the star of the menu, but any of the pastas are a sure bet since they are house-made by hand every day.
For a nightcap, head directly downstairs from Sportello to Drink, where the craft cocktail is the main focus. The long zig-zagging wooden bar is a great post-dinner gathering spot, but there’s also a small menu, including the Drink Burger, made from Colorado Wagyu (it just might be the best burger I’ve ever had), or for a lighter bite, try the hot & sour deviled eggs.