A crisp crimson awning marks the doorway into D.W. French, a brand new brasserie by acclaimed chef Douglass Williams of MIDA that opened in Fenway this week. Inside, the gentle strains of jazz music will be heard beneath clinking wine glasses and dialog. Ground-to-ceiling home windows look out onto the bustle of Boylston Road and staffers carry platters of garlic-soaked escargot and tangy ginger duck confit to tables.
Whereas Williams has constructed his status thus far on unfussy Italian fare, French delicacies was a staple of the chef’s culinary coaching. Now, he returns to these flavors with an identical perspective as MIDA — making dishes typically marked as upscale really feel accessible. Williams additionally doesn’t need concern of mispronouncing a dish’s title or a bottle of wine, or asking what one thing tastes like, to cease anybody from having fun with a meal.
“It doesn’t must be this overwhelming blow to your ego or to your confidence with a view to benefit from the meal,” says Williams. “It’s nearly permitting and translating that relatability.”
Simplicity is essential in making the delicacies accessible. One in every of Williams’ favourite French dishes is the tarte au citron, a lemon dessert with three elements: a tart shell, citrus curd, and merengue. The candy and tart taste profile typically seems within the delicacies of different cultures, making a reference level for diners, in line with Williams.
It’s “one of the crucial good compositions of meals. But it surely’s in the end so easy,” says Williams. “And there’s virtually nobody who doesn’t like lemon curd. Whether or not your grandma’s from southern Georgia, or from Europe, it interprets.”
Different quintessential French dishes are reimagined as much less self-serious meals. Beef bourguignon, sometimes served as a dinner entree with greens, is sliced and pressed between a buttery sandwich bun with caramelized onions and aioli.
On the bar, MIDA companion and sommelier Seth Gerber has curated a wine record that prioritizes small-production French wines. The cocktail menu infuses regional spirits into basic drinks, such because the Honey Bunny which blends a French single malt whiskey with ginger honey and lemon.
Inside, diners slide into heat crimson banquets paying homage to the area’s former occupant, Tiffani Faison’s Italian restaurant Orfano. The white subway tiles, brass fixtures, and gentle blue paint behind the bar mirror Williams’ purpose for the meals; they create an area that’s comfy and accessible, with the trace of advantageous eating glamour.
Whereas the three MIDA places within the South Finish, East Boston, and Newton all have a extra neighborhood really feel, Williams felt Fenway had a broader attraction. The transient neighborhood performs host to vacationers, college students, and medical professionals along with its residents. Williams recollects the sooner years earlier than the glittery new Fenway when a run-down Burger King that cameoed in The City was a neighborhood landmark. Like Garrett Harker of Jap Customary, Williams has seen the neighborhood develop. Within the new evolution of Fenway, he felt a French brasserie could be proper at house.
Williams was additionally influenced by the area’s tradition, significantly the Black creatives that thrived in Paris whereas different cities had been extra deeply steeped in racism. Whereas artists like James Baldwin and Sidney Poitier had been working within the Metropolis of Lights within the Nineteen Fifties, Black People had been grappling with the discriminatory Jim Crow legal guidelines implementing racial segregation, which stifled Black companies for generations. Having Black possession, whether or not or not it’s in a French brasserie or at Jersey Road Liquors just a few blocks down, is a small step at rectifying that historic inequity.
It’s additionally notably a uncommon cease on Boylston to strive garlicky snails wrapped in puff pastry. “Selection [in types of restaurants, and restaurant ownership] is the spice of life,” Williams says. “Selection is unbelievable, particularly when it’s in your neighborhood and also you don’t must journey for it. And the truth that a restaurant is BIPOC-owned, it makes it that a lot sweeter.”
D.W. French is situated at 1391 Boylston Road, in Fenway. The restaurant is open for dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday by Thursday, and 4 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Weekend brunch providers runs from 10:30 a.m. to three:30 p.m. Reservations can be found here.
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