BOSTON – If you are itching to get a little bit of the South in your mouth, look no further than Back Bay. Chef Jason Santos has brought a piece of the Big Easy to Boston with Buttermilk & Bourbon tapas bar.
“The reason why I chose New Orleans as the influence of this restaurant is it’s one of my favorite cities on earth, some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life,” Jason said.
Besides the food, Jason also loves the mood in NOLA, so he decked out the space with dining room options to go along with how you are feeling that night.
“The vibe is fun and funky and lively. Tons of small plates, tons of stuff to try. Different rooms, different feels,” he described. “It’s kind of like you go to New Orleans, you come to the Back Bay.”
You could choose to could sit at ‘Bourbon Street’ – their lively bar. Or for a relaxed outdoor vide, there is an 85-seat patio sitting just below street level on Commonwealth Avenue.
Next on Jason’s tour is the Garden District, the most casual of all the rooms.
“It’s the brightest and the most energy. Crazy chandeliers, awesome tables, big giant table for eight people, fireplaces. Cool kind of funky, distressed look.”
Next stop, the French Quarter.
“This is the most elegant room in the restaurant. We have reconditioned church pews, elegant settings, cool ceiling, cool lights, cool chandeliers.”
Last, but not least, the Voodoo Lounge, Jason’s favorite room in the whole restaurant.
“It’s really funky, really freaky. Cool tables, black lit, couches, mirrors, candles. Kind of cool, kind of new to Boston, super cool to hang out in.”
Once you have found your seat, it is time to figure out what to eat. Nothing kicks of a meal quite like the must-order Warm Honey Glazed Biscuits.
“It is the best thing on the menu,” Jason declared. “Everybody in the south has to have a good biscuit on their menu so I brought that to Boston. It’s honey glazed, served with pimento cheese and a smoked cinnamon butter.”
Another must-have for your group is a pot of Alligator wine.
“In Boston a lot of people do their version of scorpion bowls. Well, we do too. We have alligator wine served in a cool teapot with liquid nitrogen that smokes,” Jason described. “When it gets to the table we pour it into little teacups. They’re smoking with liquid nitrogen and it’s our version of a bourbon punch.”
From there, you can opt for dishes like Crispy Short Rib Croquettes served over a tasty baconaise; Deviled Egg Toast with country ham and hot pepper salad; or the over the top Aged Gouda Mac and Cheese spiked with pork and topped with a Flamin’ Hot Cheeto crust.
Your palate will continue to be wowed when you bite into Jason’s fried chicken.
“Our buttermilk fried chicken is our signature item here. We have three different types of chicken, wings, thighs and bone-in; three different sauces, white barbecue, sweet and spicy, and Nashville. You can get it really hot, really mild, three different ways, many, many combinations.”
For a true taste of New Orleans, order the BBQ Shrimp, served with perfectly cooked grits and onion toast; Bourbon Ale Steamed Mussels sautéed with house made Tasso ham and black-eyed peas, served alongside crunchy grilled bread for dipping; or the ultra-addictive Confit Pork Belly Cracklings.
“Down south everybody has their version of cracklings, which is generally just fried pork. We use pork belly. We fry it super crispy and then we toss it in the cheddar salt and it’s served with a Carolina mustard,” Jason described. “Amazing fried pork goodness.”
For some Cajun influence on a Mexican favorite, order the Cajun Guacamole.
“Clearly guacamole is not Cajun, but I add some Cajun shrimp, some homemade barbecue kettle chips. So, I don’t take myself too seriously and I take a little bit of culinary freedom when I write the menu.”
The fun fare continues right through dessert, with ever-changing flavors of soft serve ice cream served in a pretzel cone, to fresh fried beignets filled with vanilla bean cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar. But the real whimsy arrives to the table last, when your check is presented.
“When you go to a restaurant, everybody gets the standard check presenter. But what I’ve done here is I’ve taken voodoo dolls, stab the check right in the heart. In and out, nobody gets hurt.”
You can find Buttermilk and Bourbon at 160 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, and online at buttermilkbourbon.com.
Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.