By: Tara Kerrigan Hayes

When you enter Chickadee you are immediately aware that you’re embarking on an experience. The space is classy and modern, with design elements that celebrate it’s home in the heart of Boston’s Innovation and Design building.  The vibe in this Mediterranean inspired restaurant is both fun and hospitable, with a greeting that makes you feel not only welcome, but appreciated. The bar draws a communal crowd of fellow foodies who seek a glimpse of the kitchen, while watching the cocktail masters work their magic.

Their creative cocktail program Is a testament to the passion and experience of Beverage Director/Owner Ted Kilpatrick, who has worked at some of the best restaurants in Boston, (L’Espalier, No. 9 Park) as well as New York (o ya, Covina). A show stopper is the English Partridge – almost a play on a Manhattan – with a softness influenced by unexpected ingredients like earl grey tea and pear eau de vie.  They also offer a selection of local, craft beers and ciders as well as a thoughtfully curated wine list (ask about the story behind their Peyrassol Rose).

Life long New England resident and Chef/Owner John daSilva (also Of Barbara Lynch’s Flagship No. 9 Park) offers a seasonal menu highlighting ingredients from local farms, markets, and producers. The menu, which could be described as rustic, clean flavors elevated by understated sophisticated techniques, is approachable but with some names of dishes that evoked perplexed expressions by neighboring diners. So in the spirit of the industrious chickadee itself, I’ve come to decipher some menu items and lionize others.

Smoked Sea Trout Dip

The title of “dip” does this appetizer a disservice, eliciting images of elusive bits of trout lost in a heavy sea of cheese, when in fact it’s a generous yet elegantly prepared portion of fresh, smoky Trout complimented by a vibrant horseradish sauce accompanied by crunchy homemade salt + vinegar rye chips.

Chickpea Panisse Fries

Panisse fries have been likened to “hummus sticks” or “healthier fries” but these enchanting batons of flavor are beyond compare. Lightly fried, there’s a pleasant crisp on the exterior while the inside is warm, savory and smooth. Served with a delicious Calabrian chili aioli offering just the right touch of heat, they are a perfect prelude to any entrée.

Crispy Hen of the Woods

You’ll find no hen here. No fowl of any kind. Described as Potato-Almond Skordalia, which is essentially a Greek potato and garlic dip, the server better described it as, “basically the best mashed potatoes you’ll ever have”. The silky puree is juxtaposed by a crisp large mushroom, (which fans out like a feathered plume-hence the “hen”), roasted ‘til the tips are a golden brown creating an exciting contrast of textures. Delicious but hearty, this is an appetizer to be shared unless you’ve brought your appetite. Garnished with nigella seed and chive.

Sea Scallops

To put it simply, three large scallops are perfectly seared with a decadent and delicious honey nut squash puree so divine, it almost outshines the protein. Accompanied by a knife skill showcasing combo of apple and leek, this is a perfectly composed dish with slight vadouvan flavors. The only criticism that could be mustered here, is that the honey nut squash is unfortunately not offered by the tubful to bathe in.

Featherbrook Farm Chicken

As a diner that tends to default to beef or seafood, this dish was a game changer. Moist on the inside with crispy golden skin, the chicken is perfectly cooked and impeccably plated with corn, trumpet royale, burnt honey and black truffle resulting in an earthy, fragrant dish that sings to every taste bud. In a word: magic.

Perfect for a date night, night out with friends, or even to dine alone at the bar, Chickadee is hatching nothing but all good things.