Sichuan Garden (Brookline, MA)

A few weekends ago, Carol and I went down to Brookline, MA on an expedition to meet up with some of my fellow Fraternal Order of Moai colleagues for some exploration of some of Boston’s cocktail bars new and old. One place we were looking to explore was a relatively new addition to Brookline: Blossom Bar. Nominally replacing the previous Sichuan Garden restaurant, it sounded like a nice place to start our wandering, since they opened at 11am.

Well, it appears our intel was wrong; Sichuan Garden is still alive and well in restaurant form, their cocktail bar distinctly doesn’t open until 5pm; at 11 am they are still just a restaurant without cocktails. While slightly disappointing, I was quickly soothed by the fact that the food menu looked good. Really good. So once our posse arrived, we ordered up a bunch of appetizers and food to sustain us on the rest of our trip through Boston.

Starting off with some appetizers, we had some Dan Dan noodles and some scallion pancakes. The former were a nice rendition of one of my favorite noodle combinations: some still toothy Chinese-style noodles tossed in a mixture of soy, sesame, and a heavy application of Sichuan peppercorn, the result is a fiery and bold noodle combination. Add in a little spinach and crispy ground pork, and it’s quite hearty as well.

The scallion pancakes were no slouch, either: the two keys to a great scallion pancake are the combination of a still-slightly-firm rice flour pancake itself, and a really, really good pan-fried crisp with all sorts of nooks and crannies to soak up the dipping sauce, and these didn’t disappoint: a firm and toothy batter, a delicious crisp, and a very tangy and somewhat fiery dipping sauce; and these were great.

For the main course, I opted for the Chengdu Dry Hot Chicken, primarily since this is a classic Sichuan dish (at least, there’s a nice recipe for almost exactly the same dish in Fuschia Dunlop’s
Shredded Beef with Cayenne

Carol, meanwhile, went for the “Smoky Shredded Beef with Cayenne”, and this was another winner. I’m not sure I’d really called it “shredded” beef, it was more “strips” of beef, but this too was a very bold and flavorful dish, with several layers of both kinds of pepper: a bit of sichuan pepper, and both fresh and dried chile peppers.

Well, while we’ll definitely need to go back to check out their cocktails (the menu at Blossom Bar looked awesome) with an evening visit, this wasn’t a disappointment; the food was bold, flavorful, and well-prepared, and reasonably priced as well. I’ll definitely be coming back.

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