(04/17/10) (05/19/11) (02/18/12)
An extension of the Hotel Commonwealth in Boston's Kenmore Square, Eastern Standard boasts an all-purpose menu that runs the gamut from seafood and raw bar to steaks to burgers, all served in a sectioned dining room strong on the wood and modern lighting. There's a definite upscale slant to the space, but the crowds are quite diverse: you're likely to see an even mix of well dressed professionals, spandex-clad coeds and sweatshirted Sox fans. The bar runs the length of the room, equipped with comfortable upholstered stools. Creature comforts include free newspapers during breakfast (they serve three meals a day, everyday) and early lunch.
You'd think parking in this area would be a challenge, but I've snagged affordable metered parking every time—even on a Red Sox game night.
The bun is a lightly toasted, not-so-lightly buttered brioche that's made in house. It's very fresh, very soft and very pliable, all strong points. The butter adds a little richness to the equation without distracting attention away from the main attraction. The drawbacks for me are the volume and density of the bun, which lacks the typical egginess of brioche but swaps in a lot more chew. It's not an issue, but it's a little heavy, and most so on the most recent visit.
There's not much surface personality, with crust and seasoning both much lighter than optimal, but those slights are nearly mitigated by the beef itself. It's a shortrib-sirloin blend, grilled to just about medium rare on all three visits. Juiciness is immediately evident each time. The first bite is pure bliss, delivering a silky, flavorful impression that's as beefy as you can get without getting too funky. This is a burger that's a lot like the room that serves it: simple but elegant.
The Standard Burger ($13.00) comes dressed with nothing but the bun and the cheese. Cheddar is a bit thin but adds a sharp tang that stands up to the beef without standing in front. On the second visit I raised the standard to include my standard bacon and grilled onions, finding both elements handled competently—bacon crisp and slightly chewy; onions fully cooked, not bitter and only slightly sweet—but not enjoying it as much as the simpler original.
The Fries (and such)
Fries are included with the burgers, making the platter a solid value. But there's no value without quality, and these fries come through every time. They're thin, warm, super crisp, aggressively salted and dusted with herbs.
A side order on the second visit, the onion rings presented the classic thick/puffy model, executed with precision to ensure a light, crisp batter and a moist inner vegetable. The price/portion ratio was a bit out of whack, but no matter: the rings have since been whacked from the menu.
Service is a constant highlight, blending hospitality, professionalism and knowledge.
The Bottom Line
There might not be any bells and whistles, but juiciness, flavor and silky texture make the Eastern Standard burger one of Boston's best. It's definitely in my top 10 and possibly also my top 5.
Other Opinion/ Info
Yelp reviews of Eastern Standard
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