Where to: Punch Bowl, a “modern city tavern” in Brookline’s Hilton Garden Inn.
Why: It’s run by Jen and Josh Ziskin, the wife-husband team behind two proven favorites: Italian restaurant La Morra and the Heritage of Sherborn, with its New England farm-to-table aesthetic. A brand new restaurant in a brand new hotel! Nature is healing.
The backstory: Josh grew up in Brookline, and Jen taught history here before they opened La Morra almost two decades ago. So naturally they were inspired by the story of the Punch Bowl Tavern, which opened in 1730. “It was such a community epicenter that they named Brookline Village ‘Punch Bowl Village’ after it,” Jen says. The tavern was also a stop on the stagecoach route that took travelers from Boston to the MetroWest area where Heritage of Sherborn is located. “It tied all that together.” You’ll find a picture of the historic tavern behind the host stand of its modern descendant.
What to eat: Executive chef Amanda Lowry (the Butcher Shop, Dovetail) serves a menu replete with New England seafood and modernized classics. Start with local oysters or splash out on a whole seafood tower, then move on to fried calamari with smoked baby tomatoes, squid ink aioli, and pea tendrils; broiled spot prawns with shoestring potatoes and black garlic emulsion; or pan-seared hake with a parsnip latke and smoked mussels. You’ll also find a kale Caesar, wild mushroom cappelletti, a grilled Berkshire pork chop, Maine blueberry cobbler, and more. For lunch, perhaps a softshell crab sandwich or burrata flatbread?
What to drink: As you’d expect from a modern tavern, grog is a focus. Signature cocktails such as the Muddy River Mule (raspberry-infused vodka, ginger beer, and lime) and the large-format Seneca Falls (white wine with strawberry puree and mint, serves 4-6) nod to local geography and women’s history. When Jen Ziskin was doing historical research for the restaurant, she says, she read a lot about women’s roles as innkeepers and barmaids: “Those were respectable jobs back in the day. That inspired our female-focused wine list, as well.” It highlights women winemakers, proprietors, growers, and more. (Coming soon: a third-floor terrace overlooking the Emerald Necklace, featuring tiki drinks.)
The takeaway: For anyone who appreciates La Morra and Heritage of Sherborn, local history, and local seafood, Punch Bowl beckons.
Hilton Garden Inn, 700 Brookline Ave., Brookline, 617-487-8581, www.punchbowlbrookline.com