Openings: Boston’s Grana is the Lavish New ‘Statement’ Restaurant We Need Right Now
When vaccination programs began to prove successful this spring into summer, the last thing we could have imagined was that we’d be heading into fall with something called the Delta Variant overwhelming hospital ICUs to 2020 levels. Yet here we are with European entry restrictions being put back into effect, and domestic travel looking like it might be the only genuinely safe option this autumn.
Fortunately, high profile hotel openings all along the Northeast Corridor – the Riggs in DC, the W Philadelphia, Providence’s The Beatrice, the Newbury Boston – should go a long way to helping us forget that we can’t actually be in Paris or Berlin any time in the immediate future. Most exciting of all, perhaps, is the splashy, $200 million makeover of the Langham, Boston, arguably the city’s most exalted luxury property. It’s fitted into the majestic 1922 Federal Reserve Bank building, and Dyer Brown / Richmond International‘s new design takes care to pay respectful reverence to that history.
As happens with such grand buildings, this one has a “Great Hall” – and that hall now holds the much anticipated new Grana restaurant. It’s notably headed up by Executive Chef Stephen Bukoff, who comes to the Langham after sixteen years with Four Seasons hotels in Boston (his hometown), LA, Vancouver and Denver. Curiously for such a spectacular, big-night-out-worthy space, it’s only open for breakfast and lunch right now, with brunch to follow soon. (In the evenings, the action moves over to The Fed, the hotel’s clubby upscale “pub,” complete with outdoor terrace).
Breakfast at Grana is a mostly unfussy affair, and heavy on the classics: Belgian Waffles, Traditional Eggs Benedict, Three Egg Boston Omelette (w/ lobster and tarragon) – though originals like the Panettone French Toast w/ blueberries & cinnamon syrup, and the Spaghetti Pancake w/ rock shrimp ragout, toasted garlic & garden herbs certainly promise a more adventurous start to the morning. At lunchtime, things go decisively Italophile: Local Burrata w/ caponata and grilled ciabatta; Chicory Panzanella; hand crafted New England Lobster Agnolotti; Stewed Cioppino (shellfish stew); and the signature Grana Porchetta, made with Kalon Farm pork (all 100% naturally raised in Massachusetts).
The cocktail menu is not exactly sprawling (relying as it will be entirely on day drinkers), but a pair of signature sips do seem like instant classics: the Caffé Italiano, featuring branca menta, cynar, vanilla and cardamom angostura cold foam; and the Tina Louise (an homage to the Gilligan’s Island actress, surely?), an aperitivo of blood orange, ginger, lemon, sparkling wine and soda.
But no matter how good the food and drinks, Grana is a restaurant worth coming to just for the sheer visual splendor. And with its opulent chandeliers dangling dramatically from an overhead skylight, elegantly patterned tile flooring, lavish Neo-Classical detailing, and an understatedly chic blue and cream color scheme, it very much seems like a modern take on those grandiose old European railway station eateries (think Paris’ Le Train Bleu at Gare du Lyon).
This is precisely the sort of “statement” restaurant that puts forth the kind of optimism we need right now, after eighteen months of the hospitality business being ravaged by the coronavirus crisis. And we’re guessing that long, unhurried autumn lunches in Grana’s sumptuous surrounds, followed by afternoons of taking in Boston‘s considerable cultural offerings, may just make us miss trips to the Continent that little bit less.