Overview: As its name suggests, Birch Street Bistro is located at the edge of Birch Street in Roslindale Village. Versatile in its offerings, the venue provides a casual pub scene; a private dining area for romantic dinners or larger parties; a dynamic sports bar with live entertainment twice per week; and an open patio for seasonal al fresco dining. On its website, the restaurant is self-described as “casually chic dining.” With a full selection of wines and draft beers, specialty cocktails, and an extensive menu proffering what its executive chef calls ‘comfort food’ he learned to make in his mother’s Sao Paolo kitchen, Birch Street Bistro is seldom seen empty.
Atmosphere: High ceilings, brick walls, vintage artwork, wooden ceiling fans and large, brass-encased paper lanterns emitting a warm glow all contribute to the coziness of Birch Street Bistro’s ambience. A television hangs in the corner of the brightly lit, fully stocked bar. On the other side of a strategically placed wooden median is a slightly quieter, more private dining space. The outdoor patio connects to that of Sophia’s Grotto, located three storefronts away on Birch Street.
Drinks: Sparkling, white and red wines (as well as one rosé option) are available by both the glass ($6-$11.50) and bottle ($23-$43). Homemade sangria, both red and white, is fresh and fruity at $8 per glass. Draft beers include Allagash tripel, Breckenridge Brewer porter, Chimay, and Drifter pale ale, as well as some seasonal options, like Harpoon Pumpkinhead Ale for the autumn. The bartender can make just about any cocktail by request, as well as the drink specials, which include an array of martinis, mojitos and margaritas.
Appetizers: Soups, salads and seafood dominate the starters list. French onion soup is baked with asiago and swiss cheese ($6). The baby spinach and strawberry salad is topped with gorgonzola cheese and sliced almonds, and tossed in an orange vinaigrette dressing ($8). P.E.I. mussels are served with capers in a white wine butter sauce and garlic toast ($12). For the heartier appetite, wild boar sausage (with braised spinach and fig compote, $11) makes the menu.
Entrées: Beef, lamb, duck, chicken, pork, fish, and pasta are available as main dishes. The vegetarian’s best bet would be the eggplant ragu (served with whole wheat pasta and topped with goat cheese, $15) or the veggie side dishes. Omnivores, on the other hand, have no dearth of options. Grilled filet mignon is served with merlot compound, fried yucca and sautéed spinach ($24). Seared duck breast comes with an orange glaze, green bean succotash, and roasted potatoes ($21). A haddock filet is served seared over watermelon gazpacho and topped with crispy leeks and fried shrimp ($21). Classic staples like pizza, burger, and fish and chips round out the menu.
Tapas: Available Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights only, a nine-item tapas menu is offered for lighter appetites and snacking. The list includes clams and chorizo ($7), red snapper and risotto ($8) and tortilla española ($6).
Desserts: Changing with the seasons, the autumn dessert menu consists of chocolate decadence, crème brûlée, coconut almond bread pudding, and deep dish berry tarte (all $7). Dessert cocktails, coffee (with or sans alcohol) and digestifs are available in addition to, or in lieu of, solid dessert.
Service: Knowledgeable, competent and no-nonsense, the waitstaff and bartender on duty made the dining experience run smoothly. My waitress double-checked the exact ingredients of the elderflower martini, per my request, avoiding misinformation. The owner, who opened the restaurant in 2003, is on site several nights per week. Everyone seems genuinely friendly and happy to be there.
14 Birch Street, Roslindale
Hours: Sun-Tues 5-9 p.m.
Wed 5-9:30 p.m.
Thurs-Sat 5-10:30 p.m.
Executive Chef: Marcelo de Oliveira