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Boston Restaurant Blog >> 2011 archives >> April, 2011 >> blog entry

Boston Restaurant Blog -- April, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dinner at Citizen Public House in Boston's Fenway Neighborhood

Although most of the restaurants that I go to these days are lesser-known, hidden spots (obviously!) that tend to fly under the radar, occasionally I will hit a more popular restaurant here and there, including places such as The Publick House in Brookline and Highland Kitchen in Somerville. This week I ended up at another such spot, namely the Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar near Fenway Park. I was mostly impressed with the Citizen, though in retrospect, it doesn't seem like the kind of place that I would personally go to on a regular basis (more on that later).

photo of Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar, Boston, MA The Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar, which first opened last October, is connected with other restaurants around the area, including the Franklin Cafe on Shawmut Avenue in the South End and Tasty Burger, which is across the street from the Citizen. Closer to the upscale Franklin Cafe than Tasty Burger in overall theme, the Citizen Public House has the feel of a real "foodie" spot, with pig roasts, Fernet Branca on tap, and duck fat-fried game hen all indicating that this is not your typical neighborhood tavern. The interior of the place is very dark (large windows do brighten up the spot during the day) and has a somewhat rustic feel, with the old-looking beamed ceiling lending a nice touch. A U-shaped bar dominates the space, while booths, bench seats, and tables are set up around the bar. The room is very loud, even on nights when it isn't all that crowded, as was the case on our recent visit. On the night we went, the clientele was an interesting mix of young hipster types and formally-dressed older couples, with no children anywhere in sight. Music in the background included Led Zeppelin and Buffalo Springfield, indicating that perhaps the restaurant is aiming for a slightly older crowd (the baby boomer generation, perhaps).

We arrived at the Citizen Public House around early to mid-evening, and as I just mentioned, there were plenty of empty tables (by the time we left, it was still nowhere near full, perhaps because the Red Sox game had been rained out). We started out with drinks, including a Smuttynose Porter (excellent) and a shot of Fernet Branca. The Fernet, if you've never had it, is a rather complex spirit, with a large number of herbs and spices used to make it; to me, it was just a bit on the harsh side, almost having a wintergreen taste, and it seemed like something that would perhaps be best to have after a meal (as a digetif). I switched to beer after the Fernet, opting for an outstanding Pretty Things Saint Botolph's Town (a dark ale) and we soon were nibbling at a wonderful appetizer of prosciutto with roasted beet carpaccio, baby greens, orange creme fraiche, and sea salt. The prosciutto and beets eaten together had an amazing mix of tastes, with the only downside being the relatively small portion, making this dish disappear very quickly. For our main course, we had a seafood risotto and a ground sirloin burger, both of which were top-notch (with one caveat concerning the former). The beautifully-presented risotto was delicious, with clams in the shells and shrimp mixed with the rice, though again, the portion was tiny, with not nearly enough food to satisfy any hunger pangs. The burger was much more substantial--though the bun was rather flat and thin--and mine came with English stilton cheese (creamy, crumbly, and mild) and glazed bacon. The handcut fries that came with the burger were nicely browned and salted liberally. For dessert, we tried the English toffee bread pudding, which may have actually been the best item of the night, with the soft and moist cylindrical-shaped treat absolutely covered with a rich and decadent toffee sauce. Service at the Citizen was mostly good, though our server seemed to disappear for a bit toward the end of our meal, and the prices were fairly high, especially considering the size of a couple of the portions.

I really did like the food at the Citizen Public House, with some of it being among the best I've had in 2011 so far. But the noise level was just too much for me and I felt crowded in, with the tables against the back well being extremely close together. And the prices, while not outrageous, will probably keep me from being a frequent visitor to the place. I'm glad I went, though, and will certainly go back at some point, perhaps trying the aforementioned game hen or the pork tenderloin next time.

If you would like the address for Citizen Public House, here it is: Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar, 1310 Boylston Street, Boston, MA, 02215. Phone: (617) 450-9000

Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Related Blog Entries: Fenway restaurants

Cassandra said:
All though the little food I did have here was very good, I am only giving one star for the awful experience I had this weekend (which also happened to be my Birthday weekend). I was sitting at the bar with my boyfriend, we came for some good food, good drinks and to watch the Bruins. I have SEVERE food allergies and upon ordering my salad and fries, I told the bartender my allergies which include dairy, asked him what was in the salad, and when he said that the salad contained no items that I was allergic to, I asked him if he could just go in the back and double check. I am so cautious about this because some places do not take allergies seriously. So my food comes, the salad had items in it that I have not eaten before, and it looked very different I couldn't tell what was in it, so I start slowly eating my salad and fries. I started feeling sick after 15 minutes which I thought was weird, and then I tasted something that I thought might be cheese (dairy). I took a piece out of my salad and gave it to my boyfriend to try and he confirmed that it was cheese. I got the bartender's attention and asked him if there was cheese in the salad, which I had already eaten about half of. He took it and said, "Oh yes there is. I'm sorry. Is there anything I can do?" I said, "No, there isn't. I am severely allergic to dairy like I told you before I ordered it, and now I am going to be very sick for a few days." He just looked at me and said, "Well what do you want me to do?" I was so mad. I told him to just bring me a salad with no cheese. As I was waiting I was talking with my boyfriend, and obviously I was very upset. We were celebrating my Birthday this weekend, and had lots of plans for Sat. and Sun. I started tearing up because my weekend was now going to be ruined, when I do accidentally ingest something I am allergic to I am sick for a few days and it is really bad. The salad came out, I couldn't eat it or even finish my drink because I was starting to feel even more sick. The manager came over to check on me. When I turned to look at her and there was a tear rolling down my cheek she asked what was the matter? This made me furious! I explained to her the severity of my allergy and how my Birthday plans for the weekend are now ruined. She asked if there was anything she could do and said that I would not be paying for my food because it was my birthday. Because it was my birthday?!?!?!?! Ya right that was not why, I don't even know why she said that. The did take care of the entire bill, (which was not much since we had just started our evening)but I will never go there again. If you have any food allergies I would recommend eating elsewhere. That was such a careless mistake. They are lucky that I am not deathly allergic to dairy. You can kill someone if you give them something they are allergic to in some cases.
Posted on 6/13/11

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