Cheat Sheet: Bostonia Public House
The Gist: The historic Board of Trade building is now home to Bostonia Public House, a Downtown/Financial District eatery where Kyle Ketchum puts modern spins on New England classics.
The Vibe: Big and buzzing. The two-floor, 200-seat interior boasts a vintage-chic design from HGTV and Restaurant: Impossible personality Taniya Nayak. It's a sleek and stylish space swathed in cognac and coffee tones, with gleaming white subway tile, marble floors, antique accents and a 100-foot walnut bar. An after-work crowd of smiling suits was already getting thick by 6 PM, but a piano man (there's live music nightly) cut through the convivial clamor with his tinkling and crooning.
Eat This: Crab-crusted cod ($29) in an asparagus, leek and potato succotash is fresh, light and heavenly: a standout entree. But we'd recommend starting with the superb and flavorful caramelized onion soup ($8) with tender braised brisket, topped with croutons and gruyere cheese. "Bostonia" baked beans ($6) with bacon breadcrumbs are a strong side, but save room for an amazing ending - the sweet potato doughnuts ($9) with a Berkshire bourbon glaze. So good, we're frightened for the future of our waistline.
Drink This: There's an impressive wine selection: Bostonia's 48 by-the-glass selection is being billed as the largest of its kind in Boston, and the restaurant has produced its own private label of handmade Napa Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. But when it comes to cocktails, we recommend getting to know J. Grady ($15). Named for a pal of the restaurant owners, its a great (strong-armed!) twist on a Manhattan: Angel's Envy rye with a blood orange slice, mashed maraschino cherry, a brown sugar cube and angostura and orange bitters.
Skip This: We love Bostonia's intention to put fresh spins on New England favorites, but not everything needs it. There's a fine idea behind the lobster roll ($24), a buttery brioche roll laden with chilled lobster, avocado, yuzu crema and (again) bacon crumbs. But ultimately the flavors just feel a little overcomplicated.
The Verdict: Alongside fellow Financial District newcomer The Merchant, Bostonia is feeding a hungry for elevated dining options that are still relaxed enough to invite post-work mixing, mingling and mealtimes. Service is super attentive and informed, and the live music, which kicks up the energy, is a big, big bonus.
Bostonia Public House, 131 State St.; 617-948-9800