Cheat Sheet: Precinct Kitchen + BarBy Scott Kearnan
April 17, 2014
The Gist: Out with the old police puns, in with the new! The Loews Boston Hotel, which inhabits the building that was once Boston Police Headquarters, just introduced its new restaurant. Precinct Kitchen + Bar replaces Cuffs with an entirely new menu and look.
The Vibe: The fully revamped interior boasts a large bar that precedes the host station, and flows into the hotel's garden-level parlor. The main dining room is a cozy but contemporary 70-seat space in hues of cream and tan with pops of blue that match a BPD uniform. There's also a sunken 36-seat patio lounge that will open later this month and promises two outdoor fire pits for al fresco enjoyment.
Eat This: The charcuterie plate ($16) is overloaded with prosciutto, salumi, chorizo, and a delightful, perky mostardo (finely diced candied fruit with a spicy mustard sauce). It also includes a small jar of duck parfait, a liver pâté made with cognac and topped with a thin layer of port wine reduction. You could make this starter a small meal. A very fresh tuna cruda ($12) gets a lot of welcome zing from its garlic chili paste. For entrees, head straight to the seafood-oriented menu's signature clambake, a steaming pot of Wellfleet clams, PEI mussels, shrimp, corn, red potato and kielbasa ($24; you can also add lobster). It's a cute and clever bounty for the indecisive - or very hungry.
Drink This: There's a nice local beer list, but the region-themed cocktails are potent. We liked the Nor’Easter, a robust concoction of bourbon, maple and ginger.
Skip This: The starter mussels ($12) are a very generous portion for the price. But they're crammed so tightly within their pot that it's nearly impossible to access a presumably flavorful broth of lager and coriander, spiced with chorizo.
The Damage: You can probably grab a starter, entree, and drink for about $50, give or take. And the portions aren't skimpy.
The Verdict: It's definitely an improvement on Cuffs, and that patio with fire pits will be a big draw for after-work crowds when it opens. But tucked away from the window traffic, the main dining room remained pretty quiet during our visit. So it remains to be seen whether the restaurant, solid but somewhat nondescript, can arrest a larger audience than its predecessor.
Precinct Kitchen + Bar, 152 Berkeley St; 617-532-3827