Everyone knows that Boston has a number of “hot” neighborhoods for dining out (for better or worse), with a few of them being the Seaport District, Fort Point, the Fenway, and Downtown Crossing, the last of which is finally starting to become a place to go to after years of stops and starts. Not all areas of the city are dining destinations, of course, and one neighborhood that doesn’t really seem to be on anyone’s radar is Hyde Park, perhaps because it’s just so far away from downtown or maybe because it’s a mostly residential neighborhood that people go home to at night rather than head out to. That being said, there are some real gems in this extreme southern section of Boston, including a rather charming and romantic restaurant and bar called the Fairmount Grille, which gets very little press but really has become a local favorite for food, drink, and atmosphere.
Hyde Park tends to be a neighborhood full of squares and little sub-neighborhoods, and the Fairmount Grille sits in a rather obscure spot between one of each—bustling Logan Square to the west and quiet and suburban-feeling Fairmount Hill to the east. The restaurant’s close proximity to the Fairmount commuter rail station makes this a relatively easy place to get to via public transportation considering just how far it is from downtown Boston, so a fair amount of commuters frequent the place on weeknights. Although it barely even registers as a dining spot from the outside (the signage is nearly invisible), the interior is spacious and impressive, with the first floor consisting of a bar and a large dining area and the second floor—which is accessed by a winding staircase—having some additional table. More seating can be found in a little private-feeling area toward the back of the first floor, while a seasonal outdoor patio is hidden further back behind the restaurant. A huge fireplace dominates the space, and unlike many fireplaces in Boston, this is a wood-burning one—and an enormous old-fashioned clock hangs above the fireplace, which is a very nice touch, adding some additional warmth and character to the space.
The Fairmount Grille had once been home to a beloved spot called Townsend’s, and while that place was unusual in that it was basically an Irish restaurant with global influences, the Fairmount Grille is probably just a touch more familiar-feeling to most, being a casual upscale bistro of sorts with a mix of classic American, New American, and Mediterranean offerings. Highlights are many here, with the Rhode Island-style calamari, BBQ-glazed meatloaf, and chicken parmigiana with linguine being three items that stand out. The menu has much more to offer, however, making it tough to choose, with such items as pan-seared perogies, spicy Texas chili, a classic New England clam chowder, garlicky steak tips, a creamy mac and cheese with cavatappi pasta, and a pan-seared brick chicken with mashed sweet potatoes all being worthwhile options. The Fairmount Grill offers a full bar, and while some solid craft beer options can be found here (Founders, Boulevard, 21st Amendment), this seems like more of a place for a glass of red or white or definitely a cocktail, with martinis being front and center. Desserts include one that you must save room for—a sublime carrot cake that may be the best this side of the long-closed Scup’s in East Boston, which is certainly saying a lot. Prices for meals are quite reasonable, with sandwiches tending to be a bit over $10 and most main dishes hovering around the $20 mark.
If you live in the heart of Boston (or Cambridge, Somerville, or Brookline, for that matter) and you don’t have a car, Hyde Park may seem more like the Maine wilderness to you than a Boston neighborhood, but it really isn’t that difficult to get to. And sure, it doesn’t have the sheer number of restaurants that other parts of the city have, but in a way, that’s what makes places like the Fairmount Grille so appealing, as the restaurant feels like a place that you, and only you, know about. Add the fact that it has easy parking and is right next to a commuter station, and food and drink prices that are a good amount below similar places closer to downtown, and you have yourself a true winner here.
FAIRMOUNT GRILLE. 81 FAIRMOUNT AVE., HYDE PARK.