Tuesday, May 4, 2010

EventBite: The (Re)opening of Anthem Kitchen + Bar

...where I ate a bunch of stuff I usually don't like...and I liked it!

Anthem is back from a several-year hiatus. Once located near Boston Garden before closing in 2007, now it's at the end of Faneuil Hall's South Market, where Plaza III existed until recently.

I never know what to expect when I get invitations to food events. Sometimes they're intimate sit-down meals with a few other bloggers and the chef. Sometimes they're big cocktail parties where most in attendance are friends and family of the owner, and I know no one. This was the latter. After watching the mayor attempt - with some difficulty - to cut the ribbon, I escaped the impending downpour that was seconds from starting and slipped inside, grabbing a champagne on the way.

Mayor Menino cuts through the ribbon...after a bit of a struggle.
The mayor stands with some important people and some entertainers.
Important people...owners and family, I think. Plus, the mayor.
Anthem has a warm, dark ambiance: hard wood floors, stone walls, and mesh curtains (reminiscent of Rialto) give it a neo-colonial sort of feel. It fits right in with Faneuil Hall but maintains its own sleek bourgeois air.

After searching the room for familiar faces and finding none, I retreated towards an empty area and hid behind my camera. An endless stream of waiters began bringing me hors d'oeuvres, sealing my decision not to mingle and just to sit and try all the food.

View the following slideshow to take a peek at the food I tried:

Anthem will do well with the Government Center happy hour crowd. The bar area is spacious and pairs TVs displaying sports games with classy dark wood and dim lighting. The glassed-in patio area is also nice, providing great people watching of the Quincy Market crowd.

The prices seem right - maybe even a bit low - for such a touristy area: wood-grilled pizzas (individually sized, I presume) are $13, entrees are $15-29, and burgers and sandwiches are $9-13 (except for the $19 lobster roll).

Some things on the menu that I'd like to try:
-mac & cheese (four-cheese with herb-crumb topping) and add-ins such as butter-poached lobster, grilled hot dogs, or shaved bacon
-American chop suey with slow-roasted meatballs, fresh pasta, tomato gravy, roasted peppers, blistered baby onions, and four-cheese sauce
-line-caught Chatham cod in a pan-roasted shellfish bouillabaisse with baby potatoes in a light tomato broth

The menu is very New England-y and heavily features cheeses (especially gruyere and goat) and meats.

If you don't live or work nearby, you'll have to decide if it's worth braving the tourist throngs to come here. I would return if I found myself in the neighborhood, but I wouldn't make a special trip to the area for it. I feel the same way about Faneuil Hall as I do about Harvard Square: I love it, but I wish other people didn't love it quite so much. It's better when you're not tripping over people.

In case you didn't view the slideshow or read the captions, in summary, the food is solid. I even tried some things I normally don't eat (mushrooms, goat cheese, bleu cheese), and I found that I enjoyed all of them in the context of their dishes.

Finally, here are a couple of gratuitous Faneuil Hall shots.
Ooh, impending storm!
It's Marine Week!

Anthem Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

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