Coda (Boston, MA)

(Update: Due to business considerations surrounding Covid-19, Coda announced in June 2020 that they wouldn’t be renewing their lease. Unfortunate, since I enjoyed their cocktails and light food. Larger sister restaurant Salty Pig around the corner remains open.)

My extended weekend in Boston also provided me with a good opportunity to check in on a fairly recent discovery of our: Coda, in the Back Bay neighborhood (a short walk from Back Back Station). Coda is basically the little sibling of the more recognized The Salty Pig around the corner. While the Salty Pig focuses on “Salty Pig Parts of All Varieties”, with other menu items, burgers, and cocktails also available on the side, Coda is more relaxed, and is basically a “cocktail bar with a decent food menu.” Indeed, we first discovered Coda when rendezvousing with relatives in Back Bay, wanting to seek out a nice cocktail while we waited, and Coda was the find. But seeing the food emerging from the kitchen, I figured it was worth a revisit for some food.

But first: the cocktails. Coda is, in my opinion, one of the best cocktail bars in the Back Bay area: it’s a small, pleasant little bar, with usually two bartenders working, both of whom are very, very good at mixology. Whether it’s a classic cocktail (like the most-excellent Manhattan shown here, with Templeton Rye), or one of their house specialties, they do a good job. The highlight of this trip was actual a new cocktail on their house menu: the Red Stone, with Ethereal barrel-aged gin, basil syrup, lemon, and a puree of fresh Fresno peppers. The result was deliciously herbal and spicey, and I’m a bit sad that I forgot to photograph it. Similarly, their Grey Gardens cocktail, with amaro, Wire Works gin, lavender-ginger bitters, and citris, was a very pleasing gin-based cocktail with some very pleasant botanical flavors.

But the reason I came was dinner, and there, the dinner menu had some good options. While the menu had a lot of good looking light options, like a particularly interesting looking mac and cheese and some pretty good looking burgers (although not as impressive-looking as the burgers at Brick and Mortar the night before), I was drawn to one dish that obviously drew inspiration from their sister restaurant: the pork tenderloin with fennel and potato hash, plum, and a maple-thyme gastrique. This dish was, quite frankly, perfectly focused on the pork. The plate arrived with a very ample portion of perfectly-salted and prepared tenderloin, served up right on the ragged edge of “done” for pork, resulting in a rich and flavorful tenderloin that had truly bold pork flavors. I’d come back for this in a minute, even though (or especially because) the dish was essentially “meat with a side of more meat.”

Overall, my several visits to Coda continue to impress me, on both the cocktail front and the food front. While somewhat busy, they can usually fit on one or two people at the bar with a short wait as well. It will continue to be one of my Boston destinations.

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