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By Scott Roberto / September 2, 12:00 AM
Branching Out


Following in the footsteps of an iconic restaurant can be a challenge. Banyan Bar & Refuge (492 Tremont St., 617-556-4211, banyanboston.com)—which recently took over the space at the South End’s Boston Center for the Arts formerly occupied by the beloved Hamersley’s Bistro for nearly three decades—has perhaps the best formula for success in this situation: don’t even try. No one will be reminded of Hamersley’s French-influenced food at Banyan, which trades in garlic-and-lemon roast chicken for Asian fusion fare. Highlights on a menu mixing shareable small plates and larger entrees are takoyaki (Japanese-style fritters) filled with calamari, pulled pork buns and whole fried fish in a spicy lime sauce. All of this is served in a room featuring a modern decor accented by rustic touches, including chandeliers made from tree branches and a back wall covered in birch logs. Add in a bar serving funky and fun specialty cocktails, and you have another welcome addition to one of the city’s hottest dining scenes.

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