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Phantom Gourmet: Ward 8 In Boston

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BOSTON – It’s near the North End, but it’s not an Italian joint. It’s a hop, skip and a jump from the Garden, but it’s not a sports bar.

It’s Ward 8.

Named for the classic cocktail created in Boston, Ward 8 is a sultry spot with dim lighting, rustic wooden tables and an exposed brick wall bearing the restaurant’s name. Post-work cocktails and pregame meals are on the menu, whether you eat in the industrial designed dining room or belly-up to the active bar where designer drinks are shaken by flannel clad bartenders.

The menu offers something for every appetite, so Phantom decided to try it all, in order to find THE PERFECT MEAL.

Every meal should begin with something they call ‘Snacks’ – a starter that’s a bit smaller than your average appetizer.

“It’s not going to fill you up, but it’s definitely something that’s worth picking on at the bar,” said owner Nicholas Frattaroli.

There’s a tasty trio of Steak Tacos topped with creamy guacamole and Pico de Gallo or Fresh Oysters from a selection that rotates every day. The Maple Chili Duck Wings are an upscale alternative to your typical buffalo wing with the perfect balance of sweet maple and spicy chili.

But the starter that can cure any snack attack is the Bacon Cashew Caramel Corn- sort of an adult version of Cracker Jacks.

“You get a bowl, sit down with your friends, have some beers, have some drinks, something to pick on while you have some cocktails,” said Frattaroli.

For something more substantial to start your meal, try the elegant Tuna Tartare appetizer served in a cold spicy coconut sauce with taro chips. The Ward 8 Chicken Caesar combines romaine and kale in a creamy dressing with a Parmesan streusel topping. For something that’s definitely not on your diet, order the Fried Cheese Steak Dumplings.

“It makes you think of, like, the best steak and cheese sub you’ve ever had in your life,” Frattaroli said. “It’s just all these different flavors and textures. It’s delicious.”

For your main meal, you can order one of Ward 8’s juicy Burgers, served on a sesame seed bun with cheddar and a flavorful onion and bacon compote. There’s the ultra-cheesy Ward 8 Mac and Cheese spiked with ham and garlicky spinach, or the slow cooked Short Ribs topped with fried leeks on a bed of cauliflower puree. Keep in mind, these short ribs are ultra-tender, which makes eating them almost effortless.

“They don’t even need a knife with the short rib. The fork just rips it right apart,” said Frattaroli.

But the real standout here is the Ward 8 Lobster Hole, which is a circular spin on a New England classic. Frattaroli described it as, “like an open faced lobster roll.”

Rather than putting a typical lobster roll on their menu, the folks at Ward 8 decided to be a little different. It all starts with luxurious lobster meat they toss in a black truffle mayo. It’s all spooned into a brioche nest created by cutting a hole into the center of the bun. And instead of just tossing that disk of grilled goodness away, they place it back on top, creating the elusive ‘Lobster Hole’.

Bacon Cashew Caramel Corn, Fried Cheese Steak Dumplings, and the Lobster Hole. That’s the PERFECT MEAL at Ward 8.

You can find Ward 8 at 90 North Washington Street, on the outskirts of Boston’s North End, and online at ward 8.com.

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.

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