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No.9 Park is a No. 1 Stunner

Barbara Lynch’s No. 9 Park is a gastronomic masterpiece. A favorite among Bostonians, Lynch’s crown jewel is refined, subtle, and very adult. There are no cutesy decorations here – it’s all elegance, pure and simple.

Located just off the Common in historic Beacon Hill, the 3 room restaurant includes a bustling bar and 2 dining rooms, one facing the park. By pure chance, my family and I got the best table in the house, a square 4 with corner windows gazing over the twinkling street lights and lazy traffic around the Boston Common. The dining rooms feature a subdued beige palette with luxurious dark wood touches and antique chandeliers, crisp white tablecloths and formal table settings. Definitely try to snag a window seat to add a little extra charm to the already refreshingly sophisticated space.

Barbara Lynch knows how to cook with the best of them, churning out remarkable cuisine that gives top New York restaurants a serious run for their money. There is no backwoods home-cookin’ here; Lynch appeals to her classic Boston clientele with clean seasonal creations without a lot of fuss or muss. The house special is the divine prune gnocchi – soft bits of gnocchi stuffed with tart bites of prune. While one thinks of prune as either a digestive aid or the way your fingers look after soaking in the bath too long, it is surprisingly complex – adding an unexpectedly delicious dimension to already great gnocchi. The foie gras is an equally tasty appetizer – served in two large slabs bursting with rich nutty flavors. The crispy toast and side dollop of cranberry complete the luscious dish.

The entrees are traditional, expect roast chicken, venison loin, Scottish salmon, porcelet, and a veal variation. Perfect execution and preparation and unique flavor pairings that complement the quality of the protein turn the traditional into exciting and revelatory. The roast chicken is no ordinary roast chicken, sweet and succulent, wrapped in bacon and served with fat brussel sprouts. The venison loin was a gorgeous medium-rare temperature and complemented with a part-sweet part-savory sweet potato puree (that I’m pretty sure I could eat in heaps).

One of the most unique attractions of No. 9 Park is the extraordinary roaming cheese cart. A self-professed cheese-head, I seek interesting cheeses everywhere I go, and No.9 Park’s selection and presentation has left lasting memories. The cart is accompanied by what I call a fromagier, which is most certainly incorrect but meant to mimic the role of a sommelier (but for cheeses). This male or female (my first visit: a male, my second visit: a female) can talk volumes about the varied and various options, describing in colorful language the texture, scent, and taste of each round. The cheeses are mostly from Europe, with a few American varieties, and represent diverse flavors (and odors) – they have hard, soft, semi-hard, semi-soft, sheep’s milk, cow’s milk, goat’s milk, stinky, funky, mellow, triple creme, gooey, nutty, and moldy cheeses. Take your pick – and ask a lot of questions.

No. 9 Park is a foodie’s heaven. The focus is on the food. Lynch doesn’t distract from the cuisine with fancy garnishes or an over-the-top atmosphere. Everything is sophisticated and under-stated. This is the perfect spot to keep in your back pocket for special occasions. The hefty price tag and hard-to-nab reservations prevent it from entering your regular restaurant rotation; however, looking for a place to celebrate graduation? a parent’s birthday? an anniversary? No. 9 Park offers a beautiful backdrop for forging lasting memories. Yes it sounds cheesy, but true? Absolutely.

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