Finch – Boston, Massachusetts

First Taste: Caged Bird Sings

Tucked away on Merrimac Street in the West End, the former Bulfinch Hotel quietly reopened as the Boxer just in time for Memorial Day weekend, almost exactly one year after being sold. Although the hotel’s new name no longer reflects Boston’s famed architect, the balance and simplicity that Charles Bulfinch strove for is captured in its renovated and renamed restaurant, Finch.

It’s been a slow but steady move for the hotel, recapturing the history of the West End and instilling it in both the space and the menu. “We wanted to go down to the bones of the building, find what was great about it, and highlight that,” says general manager Emily Antonelli. Thus, the extensive demolition began.

Tearing down the facades that had been constructed over generations allowed Finch to emulate the look of the original 1904 building—and revealed large windows, long hidden behind a wall.

In step with the modern vintage trend, Finch features a long, smooth bar and various sitting areas, each styled differently. The high-backed chairs arranged around chess and backgammon tables at the restaurant’s entrance suggest whiskey sipping, while the booths tucked behind the bar and below a once-hidden window conjure both business meetings and intimate first dates.

The menu is simple with a few quirky twists. A balsamic chicken flatbread layers baby spinach, garlic, portobello mushroom, roasted red pepper, chicken and Gorgonzola atop Indian naan bread, all drizzled with a reduced balsamic glaze. For bar snacks, there’s the kitchen sink kettle chips, Finch’s take on Irish nachos, with the flash-fried chips tossed in hot sauce and garlic, then topped with blue and cheddar cheeses, balsamic glaze, ranch dressing and green and red bell pepper.

Cocktails complement the food’s tangy accents, with the Dirty Bird martini (dirtied by a whiskey sour pickle and its brine) and Finch Garden (gin, rosemary syrup and dry vermouth garnished with candied carrot) using local products provided by Snap Top Market (and its owner, Improper Bostonian–featured bachelor Steve Napoli). Then there’s the off-the-menu secret: soju served traditionally in a chilled teapot lined with cucumbers. It’s straight Boston class, Antonelli says, adding: “It’s about bringing the guest into the experience of the city.”

Finch 107 Merrimac St., Boston (617-624-0202)

This article originally appeared in the June 5, 2013, issue of The Improper Bostonian.