Friday, January 29, 2010

Barcode: Stork Club

It’s the nature of the business that restaurants and bars come and go. All the same it seems like just the other day we were reviewing Circle, the spot that replaced the longstanding, beloved Bob’s Southern Bistro on the Roxbury/South End border. Circle had only been open for little over a month before it went under. Blame a bad economy, or a weak concept, for its demise, but either way it’s always sad to see a place go so fast. Enter Stork Club, a restaurant hoping to replicate the more successful run of Bob’s, and some of its musical spirit, even if the new place has maintained much of Circle’s stylish bistro build out.

Paying attention to the neighborhood and the room’s rich musical tradition are two ways it hopes to pick up where Bob’s left off, says manager Simone Nakhoul. “This neighborhood has had a long history of jazz and live music throughout the years and when Bob’s left, it nearly ended altogether,’’ he says. “Our mission is to bring that history back to this neighborhood and the community because it deserves it. And it’s happening. A new restaurant just opened around the corner and there are more to come soon. Which is great; it’s a great part of town that hasn’t been properly utilized. Yet.’’

Speaking of tradition, the spot’s name references another old favorite, the legendary Stork Club in New York City. There’s a spiritual connection to what the new club’s trying to do, says Nakhoul.

“On any given night you could find celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, John F. Kennedy, and Joe Lewis with performers like Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday, and Louis Armstrong. Despite having so many high-profile clients, there was also an entire club full of everyday, average folks who were there for the music and to experience the club itself. That is our connection, it doesn’t matter who you are. At the Stork Club anyone is welcome, and you can have as much fun as you like, or you can disappear into a dark intimate corner away from the rest of the world and vibe out.’’

You might draw some of that vibe off of the lengthy, retro-leaning cocktail list broken down by spirit and flavor profile. Orange You Glad (Old Overholt Rye, Aperol, Regans’ orange bitters, cane syrup, lemon juice, all drinks $11, pictured) is a favorite of the staff and people who they can steer toward it, says bartender Chris Mahoney.

“People don’t always order it, but when they ask me to suggest something, it’s this. They always end up getting a second.’’ It’s lightly bitter and citrusy, with just enough sweetness. A little less so is the Ezekiel (Benedictine and Brandy, Campari, Fernet Branca, grapefruit), which sounds like it might be too bitter, but it’s easily drinkable.

“We can’t have you trying only the manly drinks,’’ bartender Victoria Barnaby says, offering her version of the Raspberry Drop (Grey Goose vodka, fresh muddled raspberries, lemon juice, cane syrup, sugar rim). We were happy this sharp, tart drink brimming with fresh fruit wasn’t the normal sugar-rim-style sweet overload.

Much of the wholesome tastes in drinks like this come from the approach to mixing ingredients. For its Mai Tai, Stork Club makes its own orgeat from almond milk, rose water, and orange blossom water, and grenadine from organic, unsweetened pomegranate juice, rose water, sugar, star anise, and cloves. The sangria is made to order with a Malbec infused with house-made orange marmalade. It’s the type of contemporary meets classic riffing that you might expect from a jazz-inspired bar. The trio laying down the tight groove while we drank at the bar would surely be impressed.

Stork Club , 604 Columbus Ave., Boston. 617-391-0256.

Boston Globe

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