The Fireplace and a Story of an Admirable Chef

After blueberry picking and ice cream last weekend, Dave and I headed to The Fireplace in Brookline. I’d only been to The Fireplace for brunch previously, so I was looking forward to trying it for dinner. The space has the warm feel of a dining room with abundant natural light and comfortable banquettes. Charming colonial-era accents include portraits of John and Abigail Adams to denote the men’s and women’s restrooms.

After placing our orders, our waitress brought over warm and hearty potato rolls. To start, Dave ordered a half dozen Blue Point oysters, very fresh and not too briney.

For his entree, Dave ordered the Kobe Beef Burger with Shelburne Farm VT Cheddar, Heirloom Tomato, Boston Lettuce, Bread & Butter Pickles, a side of Garlic Mayo, with Fries, Kale Chips and Green Apple Slaw. The burger was excellent. It had the perfect amount of sharp cheddar, which played nicely off of the rich Kobe beef. The meat was thick, juicy and cooked to a perfect medium rare. You could taste the distinct Kobe beef flavor. The toasted bun was good if not diminutive compared to the burger and toppings. The fries were nicely crisp and lightly salted. My favorite part of this plate, unsurprisingly, was the slaw, which had the lovely watery crunch of apple and the added sweetness as well, all in a creamy dressing. It was a well-assembled and extremely satisfying plate.


An Allagash White to go along with the burger. 

I started with the Watermelon and RI Feta Salad with Drizzled Balsamic, Red Onion, Chickpea, Chopped Parsley and Mint. Watermelon and feta are always an excellent pairing. The watermelon soaks up the balsamic vinegar and the result are succulent cubes of sweet watermelon juice mixed with the bold and acidic balsamic flavor. The chickpeas add some hearty protein to the dish while the mint cuts the more potent vinegar and feta.

I ordered the Tomato Tart with “Wicked Local” Burrata, Maine Sea Salt, French Breakfast Radish, Olive Oil Poached Pee Wee Potatoes and Crushed Hazelnuts to start. I am a huge fan of burrata. As in, I would happily go to town on just a round of it. It is enough to make me want to order any dish on a menu that includes it. When this tart arrived, though, I was confused as to where the burrata was. I pushed aside the arugula and cut into the tart. The only thing it could have possibly been was a thin cheesy topping on the tart. But I was baffled as to why you would take burrata, a cheese that is a thing of beauty in its marriage of two fresh cheeses, and melt it down into something unrecognizable. The tart in and of itself was delicious, but I was left wanting some burrata.

Fast forward to a few days later, I decided to send Fireplace’s Chef Jim an email telling him that while I enjoyed the tart, I was very much looking forward to a dish with burrata and was confused as to why it was not present in any discernible form. I was genuinely curious to know how the dish came to be. Jim replied to me to me almost immediately and I could not have asked for a more kind or thoughtful response to my email. He explained, in short, that the tart did not exemplify his best culinary decision-making and also that something may have gone awry in the execution. My favorite and the most humbling and charming part of the email was when he told me his wife actually questioned his decision to cook the burrata when he was writing the menu. He said that he intends to play with the tart until it more closely resembles what he initially had in mind and he welcomed me to try it again when he has a version that is happy with.

I have never met Jim in person but his email gave me a pretty good idea as to the kind of guy he is. The fact that Jim took the time to reply so thoroughly and thoughtfully to my email says so much about the degree to which he cares about providing a satisfying dining experience to his customers. For that, I have a lot of respect for him and his establishment. I had a wonderful evening at The Fireplace. Except for what I thought was one misrepresentation on the menu, every part of our meal was well-executed and satisfying. I am very much looking forward to returning, not only to try a tweaked version of the tart, but to try several other dishes that caught my eye as well. I might have to devote an entire visit to trying the dessert menu, which includes both apple cider doughnuts with three dippings sauces as well as a Taza chocolate fudge cake.

The Fireplace
1634 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA
Fireplace on Urbanspoon

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16 Responses to The Fireplace and a Story of an Admirable Chef

  1. Daisy says:

    I used to brunch here all the time when I lived in Brookline right down the street. it’s so cozy and the food is always amazing. the chef sounds like a stand up guy, i think it’s cool that you emailed him to get to the bottom of the dish!

  2. Molly Galler says:

    I am so impressed by the chef’s reply! I’ve been to the Fireplace twice for dinner and didn’t have the best experience. These photos are very drool worthy!

  3. I absolutely love the Fireplace and it’s so great that your experience with the chef was so positive. Makes me like the restaurant even more! (ps – I am making lemon tarts on Weds!)

  4. Lizzy says:

    I’m happy you fixed your feed and I can read the entire thing in google reader!!! I read this on my train in this morning and I loved it!!! So great when a chef is so honest. He was probably so happy you were so knowledgable about food and enjoyed writing to you. My brother used to live across the street from Fireplace and I’ve never been. I need to get there!

  5. I love the Fireplace! Everything on the menu is always so unique and delicious – and Jim does a great job of knowing his customers and keeping them happy.

    Those donuts are definitely worth the trip. I could be happy there with the bread & dessert alone!

  6. I also love burrata and would def be disappointed if I had that dish too. So cool that the chef responded so quickly and honestly – very admirable!

    I’ve been to the Fireplace a few times and usually get the same thing: caesar salad with white anchovies, plus chicken. I should branch out and try other things on the menu!

  7. Erica says:

    Cool spot, Love that they have Kale Chips and Green Apple Slaw! Even more awesome that the chef was so responsive to your email

  8. Megan says:

    That was so great of you to contact him and get the back story on the tart. I would have been disappointed too had I not been able to spot the burrata. I’ve never been to The Fireplace but have heard a lot of great things and would really like to go.

  9. chelsea says:

    Also, a green-certified restaurant from the green restaurant association!!

  10. I love The Fireplace, and the fact that the chef responded at all, and in such a nice way, is truly admirable. I have heard great things about him, and this just confirms it.

  11. Michelle says:

    I think it is wonderful that he wrote back to you! I have a gift certificate to the Fireplace that I still haven’t used.

  12. Joanne says:

    Wow! So cool that the chef replied in such a thoughtful way! But you’re totally right…burrata is a beautiful thing meant to be enjoyed fresh and creamy…not cooked down to something that’s indiscernable!

  13. shannon says:

    wow, this is awesome on many fronts. i love that you contacted the chef (i wish i thought to do that). i love that he responded (and his response)! i am moving to washington sq soon. i had a similar experience there, although it was during a restaurant week… i feel like they did some things well, but there were too many options and that meant some things were not done well. will have to revisit!

  14. Pingback: Chocolate Madness | Free Food Boston

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