A mellow and very eclectic spot that’s deep under the radar
When you hear the name “Brothers,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Greek cafeteria-style food? Maybe deli food? Someplace that’s quick, ultracasual, and cheap? Many in the region might assume that all of the Brothers restaurants in the Greater Boston area are indeed such places, and for the most part, they would be right, with such old-school Greek spots as Brothers in Wakefield, New Brothers in Danvers, and Brothers in Peabody, or classic roast beef and seafood places such as Brothers in Peabody (and this is a different Brothers from the Greek spot in Peabody just mentioned), or maybe a neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot such as Brothers in Mattapan.
It can indeed get pretty confusing with so many dining spots having similar names while also being somewhat similar in concept, but there happens to be another Brothers that’s completely different from all the others while also being totally unrelated. And the Brothers Restaurant in Brookline also happens to be one of the most “hidden” of all hidden gems in the Boston area.
Brothers is an easy-to-miss spot in part because it is located on a stretch of Harvard Street between Coolidge Corner and the Allston line that is packed with dining spots and other businesses, and its sign doesn’t really jump out at you, especially if you’re driving. The space in which it resides is a bit unusual, taking up two storefronts that are completely separate from each other; the room on the right is long and narrow and dominated by a quiet bar on one side and a handful of high-tops on the other, while the room on the left is a dining area with low-top/cafe-style tables of varying sizes. While some establishments have partitions that keep the dining and drinking area mostly separate while also having the two within view of each other, these are literally two different rooms with a floor-to-ceiling wall separating them, so if you enter the restaurant on the bar side, you walk all the way to the back and take a left to enter the dining room.
The overall vibe in both sections of Brothers is laid-back and almost elegant in a way, with white tablecloths and music being piped in that often veers into smooth jazz from the 1940s and 1950s as well as what can only be described as “Charlie Brown music.” So no, this is not exactly a dynamic spot with hip-hop, R&B, or rock blaring at volume 11, but it is one of those rare places where you can literally hear a pin drop (unless the Charlie Brown music is moved up to volume 4).
While not eclectic in an offbeat and funky way, Brothers in Brookline is certainly eclectic in a culinary way, offering food with a number of different influences including Mexican, Mediterranean, South American, Middle Eastern, Italian, Greek, Korean, and classic American, which would perhaps give the place that all-encompassing “new American” label that every other restaurant seems to have now. Highlights among the food offerings are many here, though because of the specials and the seasonal items served, don’t expect to see all of the same dishes available each time you come.
Some of the better options (again, depending on specials and the season) include fried calamari with hot cherry peppers and a rich red sauce; rosemary truffle fries with aioli that are heavy on the garlic; a falafel hummus plate that also comes with stuffed grape leaves, grilled pita bread, tzatziki sauce, and an arugula salad; hearty short rib tacos that come with chipotle aioli; marinated chicken and lamb kabobs, both of which are served with rice and tzatziki sauce; pan-seared rare ahi that’s good enough to convert people who aren’t typically into raw or lightly cooked fish; a plate of fish and chips with a spicy tartar sauce; chicken saltimbocca with parmesan, prosciutto, a creamy sage sauce, and fingerling potatoes on the side; and a decadent burger topped with fried eggs, cheese, and bacon.
Brothers has a full bar, with a decent selection of beers and a long list of wines along with martinis, margaritas, gimlets, punch, and more among its cocktail offerings. Breakfast is also served here, with such items as challah French toast, eggs Benedict, pancakes, waffles, and steak and eggs available. Prices aren’t too bad overall considering that this is basically an upscale (though not a flashy upscale) spot, with dinners being mostly in the $15 to $25 range.
Brothers Restaurant is so little known that even some Brookline residents have never heard of it, and it’s one of those places where you generally don’t have to worry about lines out the door—especially on weeknights when it’s usually nowhere near full. If you’re looking for a big, greasy plate of cheap eats, this Brothers isn’t for you, but if you like quiet and refined spots that aren’t stuffy or formal, you might want to consider heading over to this under-the-radar eatery just north of Coolidge Corner.
BROTHERS RESTAURANT. 404 HARVARD ST., BROOKLINE. BROTHERS-RESTAURANT.COM