May 30, 2018
Bowling With French 75s And Movies With Sticky Bun Popcorn Enliven Boston’s Seaport
Ever wonder what Joanne Chang, owner of Boston’s decadent Flour bakeries, would create with popcorn? Something indulgent of course, reminiscent of a buttery, caramel-ly sticky bun tossed with pecans. Movie popcorn is great, if it’s actually fresh popped with real butter, but when the Boston Showplace Icon movie theater opened earlier this spring, it upped the ante – in addition to standard issue popcorn, they contacted Boston’s top chefs, including Chang, to create their own takes on the movie standby. Each month through next March, the featured flavor will change – for June, it’s pad thai popcorn with roasted peanuts from Ken Oringer, chef and co-owner of Little Donkey, Toro, Coppa and Uni. Future chefs include Tim Cushman, chef and co-owner of O Ya, Tiffani Faison of Tiger Mama and Sweet Cheeks Q and Mary Dumont, chef and owner of Cultivar.
The trendy popcorn, and the Showplace Icon, with its heated reclining seats, mixed drinks and local beer on draft, fit well in Boston’s Seaport neighborhood, all shiny and new, with its gleaming buildings and wide straight streets. It wasn’t too long ago that Boston’s Seaport neighborhood was acres of parking lots, sitting just over a harbor channel from the Financial District, making it a no-man’s land between downtown Boston and South Boston. Since then, real estate developers have been busy replacing asphalt with luxury condo buildings and corporate headquarters for the likes of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and GE. No surprise, the, high-end restaurants have been here for a while, from Barbara Lynch’s Sportello to oyster-focused Row 34 to Nancy Batista-Caswell’s Oak + Rowan.
But the area was low on entertainment options until recently. The Icon sits in the same complex as another welcome offering: the latest location of Kings Bowl, the Boston-born company that changed bowling from the thing you did at a kids birthday party to a legitimate fun night out. The new Kings, which has a private VIP bowling section, has become a favorite of local sports celebrities like Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady, Marcus Smart and David Ortiz for good reason –high-end cocktails and carefully prepared pub food favorites served right at your lane make for a low-stress fun night out.
Bartenders make all their own mixers fresh in-house, which explains why my French 75 was perfect. It seems like a simple drink – gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and prosecco, but cut corners on any of the ingredients and it becomes an unbalanced mess.
The menu is heavy on comfort food, like nacho and quesadilla platters, burgers and a large selection of pizzas among the offerings. That may sound like what every other place offers, but I give it props because it’s tasty (which isn’t often the case at an entertainment venue) and it’s all made from scratch with GMO-free, hormone free and local ingredients as much as possible.
On Showtime’s Billions (my biggest TV obsession) the other night, a character complained he was tired of “restaurant eating” – these two spots offer a fun alternative, without the uncomfortable silences.
By: Jeanne O’Brien Coffey