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‘Eastern Standard will forever be the standard in our eyes’: Readers recall scenes from life moments, big and small

When news broke last week that Eastern Standard, The Hawthorne, and Island Creek Oyster Bar wouldn’t reopen, we asked readers to write in with their remembrances of the storied spaces. They delivered.

The restaurateur Garrett Harker on Sept. 10, 2020, in the dining room of Eastern Standard.
The restaurateur Garrett Harker on Sept. 10, 2020, in the dining room of Eastern Standard.Cody O'Loughlin/NYT

When news broke last week that Eastern Standard, The Hawthorne, and Island Creek Oyster Bar wouldn’t reopen in Kenmore Square, we asked readers to write in with their remembrances of the storied spaces. Their recollections form an oral history of a Boston that, more and more, seems lost to time. Here’s a selection.

The [memory] that always brings tears to my eyes was sitting down with my husband at our favorite table again after being discharged from the hospital, leaving our premature twins behind in the NICU. With our usual order of a Saison du Pont to share, we were handed a pair of tiny Eastern Standard onesies wrapped in a bright red bow. Staff member after staff member approached us congratulating us on our newborns. Our joy was their joy. The closing of these establishments is more than just the loss of great food and magical drinks. It’s the loss of a familiar face that always went above and beyond to make everyone inside feel as if they were among family. — Miriam Gorman

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The Hawthorne had a way of making even a casual visit feel like a special occasion. The ambience, the music, the lighting, the seating — taken together, it combined the elegance of an upscale hotel bar with the comfort of a well-appointed living room. The bartenders could make you feel like you were their only guest, even if the place was packed. And I never had a bad drink there. — Matthew Maslin

Eastern Standard was where, courtesy of Jackson Cannon, I discovered not only the Jack Rose cocktail, but how to make my own grenadine. It’s my cocktail of choice, and I think of Jackson and Eastern Standard every time I make myself one. — Ilana Hardesty

ES was a fixture for so many of my life moments in my 20s! I went there when I was a newly minted 21-year-old to get a craft cocktail, and it remained one of my favorite special occasion places for many years to follow. Whether it was celebrating a new job, ending my bachelorette party, the brunch after my wedding, or a random Friday night, ES was an amazing place to be with friends. The energy was always electric, and the bar packed. As a local, I would often run into friends or colleagues, and it was always the special place I brought people who came from out of town. — Colleen DeBeasi

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Our favorite haunt after Red Sox on Marathon Monday. We would leave Sox game early to watch the runners finish the final mile. Made a reservation for eight for over a decade. We were there the day of the bombings, and they locked us inside for two hours but kept serving us with warm hospitality. — Tom Boucher

I feel like I have enough memories of ES to fill an entire lifetime. At the same time, it feels like years since I was last there. Some of my favorites are: being handed a glass skull full of Jet Pilot by Jackson [Cannon] after a particularly hard day. Falling asleep mid-conversation with Andrew [Holden] after a Mother’s Day double. All of the Anti-Valentine’s Day parties. But mostly I will remember the constant feeling of amazement I had that they were always able to deliver such a high level of hospitality in that giant, busy restaurant. — Ian Grossman

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My best friends held a surprise dinner for me for my 50th birthday in Eastern Standard’s private dining room. Ward Eight cocktails, a superb dinner, and all my favorite people! Their bartenders were magicians. Eastern Standard’s unique atmosphere was truly Bostonian — something that feels harder and harder to find. Eastern Standard’s demise is an abiding loss for the city. — Robert Dimmick

In 2014, my wife traveled from London to pay an anniversary visit to Boston to meet with friends. Later in the week, a gang of us got together at Eastern Standard, which had been a favorite haunt when living and working in the Back Bay area in previous years. We had a brilliant time reveling in the relaxed atmosphere, recalling past adventures, and generally having a great time. I often look fondly at the photos the staff kindly took of us all. — Mike Raggett

Eastern Standard was so many things over my last 10 years here: a post-shift drink after working a Red Sox double at Beer Works, the spot around the corner for a reliably great dinner when friends were in town, a glass of Cab during the first snowfall each the year. Foremost in my memory, though, it will remain the spot my husband and I would inevitably stop at after getting back in town on a late-arriving flight to get a grilled cheese and glass of wine because we didn’t have anything in the apartment for dinner. We’d sit at the candle-lit bar, carry-on bags shoved under the stools, chatting with some favorite bartenders a bit while the rest of the late-night crowd was clamoring in the background. It was a magical combination of ‘still on vacation’ and ‘back home’ that always eased the transition back into real life. — Corinne Griffiths

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I remember taking my family there and remarking that the salad was the best we ever had. I know it was just a salad, but everything, even the simple dishes on the menu, were prepared with such love. I’ll miss Eastern Standard very much. — Susan Dillon

The fabulous espresso martini, the onion soup, terrific burger, and the great staff. We loved the place. I hope they find another space in Back Bay and reopen. — Frances Duffly

My daughter worked for a time at the Hawthorne. She couldn’t wait to take us there to show off where she worked. It was magical; all three places were. They showed Boston how to treat a customer, how to educate their palates and go on an adventure. I have such good family memories of dining at Eastern Standard for special occasions or because we were in town. It will be so missed. — Kelly Depin

Sounds ridiculous, but two days after my father had a life-saving surgery, we went to Eastern Standard and a Sox game. We got one of the best bottles of champagne they had and the steak frites each. It’s become a touchstone memory for my family: Hey, remember that time Dad had surgery and got two steaks and went to the Sox after? Eastern Standard was our place after that. Sincerely will miss it. — John Peck

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One of my favorite memories is heading to Eastern Standard to watch the Kentucky Derby with friends, a tradition that we hoped to make annual. We ate great food and drank probably far too many of Eastern Standard’s famous whiskey smashes. When one of our horses won the race, we tipped our server extra with our winnings. I will sorely miss this restaurant and their fantastic team. — Laura Gradel

My wife and I had our first date in September 2018 at The Hawthorne and less than four months later, we were celebrating our engagement on New Year’s Eve at Eastern Standard. In the following months, we planned our entire wedding on the weekends at Eastern Standard and Island Creek, often finishing with a drink at The Hawthorne for old time’s sake. We have moved out of Massachusetts following the pandemic, and we can’t imagine living in the Kenmore Square neighborhood without Eastern Standard to go to on nights when we were too tired or busy to cook. — Adam Morrow

When my mother got sick, they offered to drive meals out to my parents’ home north of town. They checked on her often and always asked of her when we came in. They celebrated births in our family with us and reached out and supported us when we lost my mother. They didn’t just do their job well, they were perfect. They cared. You don’t always get that from a restaurant, but Eastern Standard will forever be the standard in our eyes. — Cynthia Woodward

Eastern Standard was our last meal out before we had a baby. Literally. My water broke while we were waiting for our food. They packed the food up to go. — Marika Bruell


Kara Baskin can be reached at kara.baskin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.