Southie’s Quiet Man pub closed its doors in 2008 with frequent diners agonizing over where they could find good steak tips. The Broadway haunt was co-owned by Paul Lynch, brother of Barbara Lynch, cousin to congressman Stephen Lynch, and father to 16C’s owner and operator Kerri Lynch-Delaney.
Lynch-Delany, a former pastry chef at her aunt’s No. 9 Park and the former owner of Babycakes bakery in Quincy, recently brought back the famous bites of marinated beef on 16C’s menu of “contemporary American cuisine,” next to dishes that lilt with Italian accents (the menu is complete with a glossary of Italian ingredients). Point is, don’t just go for the steak tips. This menu has something for everyone, including: grilled salmon with farro salad and tahini vinaigrette, chicken under a brick with panzanella, a beet salad with pistachio, fritti, ricotta, and lardo, a bibb lettuce salad with green beans, almonds, fricco, and a parmesan vinaigrette, homemade cookies and ice creams for dessert.
After putting our name in with the host (16C only takes reservations for parties larger than 6 people), we settled into two bar seats and were greeted with friendly smiles from the bar staff, both eager to help us decide on cocktails or one of the local beers on tap. The Old Fashioned was a good blend of bitter and sweet, with a citrus scent and finished with a Luxardo cherry – the only cherry allowed. The basil gimlet achieved a perfect balance between an herbaceous anise nose and tartness with fresh lime juice.
We perused the menu in anticipation of being next, or second, on the seating waitlist but didn’t get the tap on the shoulder. After 35 minutes we decided to order food at the bar and notified the host. She had assumed we opted to eat at the bar and was mortified that she had crossed off our name. She apologized profusely and offered to buy us each a drink. If this communication confusion is the biggest obstacle 16C is tackling since opening three weeks ago, they are off to a great start and are already masters at appeasing awkward situations.
We ordered the steak tips – of course – and a mushroom, scamorza cheese & crispy shallot sheet pizza. After viewing the plate next to me, I also ordered a side order of french fries – they looked too good not to try. The tips were tender under a crusty char, and marinated just as I remember at the Quiet Man. The sheet pizza was crisp with a thin crust and fried shallots while the scamorza cheese and mushrooms provided an earthy, unctuous quality that mimicked truffles but without the overwhelming stink.
Now, let me rave about the fries. These things were craggly on the outside, pillowy on the inside, and seasoned just right. Maybe Lynch-Delany par-boils the spuds before frying or perhaps she sprinkles magic dust on them, but no matter how she achieves those crunchy nooks and crannies on the edges, they are some of the best fries I’ve had in a long time.
16C is open from 5 pm to 10 pm Tuesday through Thursday, 5 pm to 11 pm Friday and Saturday, and 5 pm to 10 pm on Sunday. For more information call 617-481-2170 or visit www.16crestaurant.com.