date published: January 15, 2007

The Fireplace

1634 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-975-1900 Where better to begin than with an eatery that boasts about its blazing hearth right in its name? Chef/owner Jim Solomon utilized his experiences working with culinary legends like Paul Prudhomme and Todd English when he decided to open The Fireplace in 2001. The restaurant’s emphasis is on straightforward, but never boring, wood-fired and rotisserie dishes, with a healthy dose of New England flair. That’s why you’ll find hearty comfort food like roast chicken, beef and barley soup, baked beans and brown bread, cider-glazed turkey and “Grandma Gertie’s” stuffing on the menu—all perfect dishes for making your insides as warm and satisfied as the roaring fireplace makes your outsides.

The Hungry I
71½ Charles St., 617-227-3524 As much as we might associate fireplaces with comfort, they also can’t be beat when it comes to setting the mood for romance. For 25 years, Bostonians have known that one of the most romantic spots in the city has been The Hungry I, a cozy hidden jewel in the heart of Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. This two-story French country-influenced eatery is housed in a restored 1840s townhouse, and even has an open-air patio in the rear for private outdoor dining. Still, when couples looking to put that spark back in their relationship come to sample Chef Peter Ballarin’s cuisine, such as his signature dish venison au poivre (venison dredged in black peppercorns and served with a sauce of red wine and sour cream), they invariably find themselves drawn to a seat by the romantic fireside. Luckily, Hungry I boasts three working fireplaces, so there’s plenty of dancing embers to go around.

James’s Gate
5–11 McBride St., Jamaica Plain, 617-983-2000 As many Bostonians will tell you, few things chase away the shivers faster than a crackling fire and a glass of the old “black-and-tan.” In Jamaica Plain, weatherworn locals in search of a friendly atmosphere and a well-poured pint of Guinness flock to James’s Gate, a cozy neighborhood joint known for its grand, readily accessible stone fireplace. Decorated in the style of an authentic Irish pub, “the Gate’s” exterior façade is modeled after the famous James’s Gate brewery in Dublin, Ireland. Praised for its gastro-pub approach to conventional dishes, the Gate complements its pub menu of traditional Irish fare with an affordable restaurant menu of sophisticated entrees such as wild cherry duck confit and honey beer brined pork loin. A favorite meeting spot for Jamaica Plain’s eclectic community, the pub hosts frequent events including a Monday “Quiz Night” and frequent live Irish music sessions. For an extra-authentic feel, the fire is fueled with turf on select nights, effusing a nostalgic aroma that charms patrons with its unmistakably Old-World presence.

3 Winter Pl., 617-542-1340 With a colorful history dating back to Victorian times, Locke-Ober is widely revered as one of the most legendary restaurants in the city. Long established among Boston Brahmins as a destination for French cuisine ‘par excellence,’ its lavish dining rooms have seated a multitude of distinguished patrons over the years, including John F. Kennedy and Frank Sinatra. Located in a mid-1800s dwelling in Boston’s historic Ladder District, Locke-Ober’s ornate interior is home to several fireplaces whose inviting flames provide a fitting backdrop to this storied eatery’s grandiose presence. Overseen by nationally esteemed chef Lydia Shire, the restaurant menu features two signature lobster dishes: the acclaimed lobster Savannah and JFK’s lobster stew. With a wine cellar whose unparalleled inventory has been nurtured for 100 years, Locke-Ober is a also a destination for oenophiles—the wine list’s offering of over 500 labels promises to sate the thirsts of even the most discerning connoisseurs.

The Red House
98 Winthrop St., Cambridge, 617-576-0605 When it comes to cozy retreats, they say there’s no place like home—especially when that “home” is a cozy Old Cambridge abode whose foundations date back to 1603. Formerly the residence of two humble widows, the quaint Harvard Square cottage known as the Red House has in recent years been converted to a restaurant. Restored to its original charm by current owner Paul Overgaag, the Red House now contains a 55-seat main dining room, kitchen, bar area and two private dining rooms. A working fireplace lights up each of the house’s four modest rooms and comforts diners with a welcoming ambiance. Yet just as the vibe is down-to-earth, the food is anything but—the Red House’s innovative menu of continental and new Italian dishes such as the grilled veal scaloppini with chantrelle mushroom ragout is sure to excite your taste buds as well as warm your soul.


The Omni Parker House
60 School St., 617-227-8600 In Boston’s restaurant culture, few places are more iconic than the historic Omni Parker House. Located in the name-sake hotel steps away from the State House, the Parker House claims a special place in the hearts of local diners—who in Boston hasn’t heard of Boston Cream Pie? Aside from being credited with these local culinary innovations, the Parker House treats diners with a menu full of nostalgic dishes like the Boston baked scrod (also said to have been invented here). After enjoying a traditional local meal in the stately main dining room, many visitors are drawn to the fireside glow near the Parker Bar. Staffed by some of the city’s most knowledgeable barmen, it’s the perfect place enjoy a classic cocktail while warming your feet by the fire (cigar and robe optional).

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