On the Cheap: Grass Fed (Boston Phoenix)
If you, like me, have ever found yourself pressing your nose winsomely against the window of the itty bitty "TT Bar" at Jamaica Plain's Ten Tables, you will appreciate the newly easy access to the restaurant's prize cheeseburger at its new adjunct spot, Grass Fed. Ten Tables has run a weekly burger-and-beer special that is now everyday fare in their steel-and-chalkboard-chic corner, set in the old Bon Savor space.
The pleasure of Grass Fed, time and time again, is the lively flavor of the beef; I often look to toppings for excitement in an otherwise lackluster burger, but these rounded five-ounce patties sing. Grass Fed produces one of the finer oyster burgers ($12) around; while frying an oyster and smothering it in a bun can be one of the less dignified ways to treat the creature, these were hefty enough to preserve its briny character, dolloped with tartar sauce. The Blue Devil ($9) melds crisped onions, ruffles of bacon, and a fruity, blooming Stilton bleu. The Cali ($11) makes a glorious breakfast, with fried egg, baby greens, Monterey Jack cheese, a smear of avocado, and cilantro-lime aioli. On a basic cheeseburger with American, my added mushrooms were room temperature, and horseradish mayonnaise lacked much kick, but that lusty beef picked up the slack.
Fries ($3/small; $4/large) come dusted with truffle and parmesan, Andy Capp hot-fry style, or doused with mushroom gravy and tossed with cheese, a la poutine ($6). Beet fries are sweet and juicy, though the moisture kills the crispness quickly. A fresh green salad is tossed lightly with a clean, lemony vinaigrette ($5). There are plenty of burger alternatives for those immune to the aroma of the grill: a golden pile of fried fish on the po' boy ($10), sliced pastrami pressed with sauerkraut ($10), eggplant with tapenade ($9), and a chickpea burger ($9).
Order at the counter and keep an eye out for a seat; Grass Fed is a bustling neighborhood spot. Afternoons are less competitive, but things turn over quickly enough even during the rushes. There is no takeout and no bathroom. Beer and wine pairings match the meat: an earthy Carmenere, a structured Cabernet (all wines $8/glass), the creamy Left Hand Brewing Co. Nitro Milk Stout ($5), Hop Noir black ale ($6). Finish up with a creamsicle milkshake ($5) or a spiked "adult" version like the Banana's Foster Parent, cinnamon-spiced banana with dark rum ($11).
This review originally appeared in the Boston Phoenix, May 9, 2012.