A Closer Look: Seafood Specialist Ostra
Just 28 years old, chef Mitchell Randall now helms the kitchen at one of the most highly anticipated new openings of 2013. He's executive chef at Ostra, opened in December and the latest from chef-owner Jamie Mammano's Columbus Hospitality Group: the team behind perennially lauded restaurants like Beacon Hill steakhouse Mooo... and Provencal-inspired Mistral, where Randall spent the last nine years.
But this new seafood-centric destination (Ostra is Spanish for "oyster") also marks a full-circle for the next-gen chef. He grew up in Scarborough, Maine, and cut his culinary teeth as sous at Tides Inn at Goose Rock Beach. Naturally, the menu was developed to take advantage of New England's heritage; you'll find native fish, like cod with olive oil-cured tomatoes and chorizo, and skate wing Milanese with brown butter Grenobloise. Or you can get your claws into a three-pound broiled Maine lobster, accompanied by roasted cauliflower and herb butter sauce. Randall says he finds some of his finest inspiration close to home. "A lot of my inspiration comes from going down to the Boston piers and spending time with the fishmonger myself," he says. "It excites and inspires me. A lot of chefs don't have the opportunity to go down there, talk to them and watch the fish come off the boat. I feel privileged."
While using underutilized local catch is important to Randall, he's also eager to spotlight varieties that he feels receive less attention in Boston's dining world. Showcasing European catch will be central to Ostra's Mediterranean-leaning identity, says the chef. That's already evident on Ostra's inaugural menu; it dedicates significant real estate to shellfish and composed plates of raw and slightly cooked fish that cull from both local (Nantucket Bay scallops with winter blood orange and grated ginger, $21) and far-flung waters — like Israeli osetra caviar with brioche and buckwheat blinis ($160).
Flip through the slideshow below to feast your eyes on a few highlights from Ostra's menu.