1928 Beacon Hill to Bring ‘Upscale, Casual’ Dining To the Neighborhood

Kristin Jenkins, the primary owner of 1928 Beacon Hill, a new self-described “upscale, casual” restaurant set to open next week at 97 Mount Vernon St., had long dreamed of running her own restaurant, but hadn’t managed to find the ideal location until she was walking through Beacon Hill in October of last year and came across the space that was formerly home to Lala Rokh with s “for rent” sign in the window.

“Since I was young, I always wanted to have a restaurant,” said Jenkins, who is also the owner of Leonard’s New England, a Seekonk antiques store that dates back to 1933. “I wanted to find somewhere unique,  but I hadn’t found the right spot.”

Stepping inside 1928 Beacon Hill, one enters the first of three dining areas, which Jenkins refers to as the “Lounge” – a space resembling the interior of a classic hunting lodge and containing a number of small tables for patrons, along with a marble-topped, 12-seat bar.

Jenkins, who describes herself as an “avid collector of antiques,” has decorated the entire restaurant with antiques and curios from Leonard’s, as well as from her own personal collection. Among the items lining the walls of the Lounge are a dozen or so Black Forest carved-walnut trophies resembling various big game busts, as well as   a brass sign, measuring approximately 8-by-24 inches and emblazoned “The Copley Plaza” in raised letters, which Jenkins acquired at auction  after its former home, the Oak Room at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel, closed in 2005.

“I love antiques, and also love to mix new and old [décor],” said Jenkins. “At Leonard’s, we have a lot of Beacon Hill customers, so I understand the look and décor and wanted it to feel like a home away from home.”

Jenkins, who is also an  art preservationist, restored a mural herself facing the entrance, which shows a harried coat-check boy herself and was painted when the space was home to another restaurant, Au Beau Champ, in the 1940s.

Besides Jenkins, the 1928 Beacon Hill team also includes Dante Funes, the head chef; Avery Sells, a managing partner; Joe McHale, bar manager, and John Flynn, head bartender; and Tyler Tschumi, the general manger.

They have all been on board since the restaurant’s inception, said Jenkins, and pitched in by painting and hanging items on the walls in anticipation of the opening.

“We’re like family – everyone’s been here from the start,” said Jenkins. “We have the coolest team, and that’s what I’m most excited about.”

For patrons, Jenkins hopes that 1928 Beacon Hill will become their favorite local dining establishment  for a special occasion, like an anniversary or a graduation celebration, or just for a casual night out.

“We’d love for this to be the type of spot where people come a few times a week,” said Jenkins. “We want it to be upscale casual, which just lends itself to the neighborhood.”

Avery Sells added, “We don’t want to be the type of place where people only come on special occasions.”

Jenkins describes the fare as “American classic,” and Funes comes from Ghost Pepper in Dorchester’s Savin Hill and had previously worked at a number of other venerable Boston dining establishments, including the erstwhile Radius, as well as the Four Seasons, the Fairmont Copley, and Southern Proper, among others.

Signature dishes will include the short ribs, which will be served with Bolognese and pasta made in house, or braised with celery puree, said Funes.

Other menu items include tuna tartare; the 1928 Burger, a grass-fed beef patty on a potato bun with the house aioli and served with a fried green tomato and house-cut fries; two steak dishes at different price points – the filet and the skirt (hangar) steak; and two fish offerings, which will change seasonally.

 “I’m also very proud of the chicken,” Funes added, “It’s like a brick chicken, but it’s pan roasted and cooked all the way through without being dry.”

Also an experienced pastry chef, Funes has created the dessert menu, including the Boston Cream Pie, as well as a special Ode to Boston: “the Chocolate Depression Cake,” which uses molasses instead of chocolate in a nod to the dearth of chocolate at the time, which led many to substitute molasses for chocolate, as well as the Great Molasses Flood, which claimed 19 lives in the North End in 1919.

The restaurant’s daily hours of operation to start will be 4 to 11 p.m. daily, with only the bar menu served from 10-11 p.m. Two weeks after opening, 1928 Beacon Hill will also be introducing a brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (with only the bar menu available on those days from 3 to 5 p.m., after which time regular dinner service begins).

Behind the bar are McHale, bar manager, and Flynn, head bartender. McHale previously worked as bar manager of Beacon Hill Bistro for about 13 years and alongside Flynn there for five or six of those years. Flynn is also a longtime bartender at Solas Irish Pub at the Lenox Hotel.

“John and I are making Prohibition-era cocktails with a spin,” said McHale. “We want to go old-timey and bring in the new and use fresh juices and ingredients.”

The fall cocktail menu includes drinks such as “Original Sin,” described as a “martini, green apple twist to look like a snake,” and comprising fig-infused vodka, apple cider, lemon, and an apple twist; the “Zozzle,” made of “Resposado tequila, orange and cinnamon simple, allspice dram, and muddled orange’; and “Old Sport” comprising brown butter rye, banana liquour, and black walnut bitters.

“We make our fusions and syrups in house,” said Flynn.

 “And shrubs for non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails,” McHale added.

The wine list, which includes 30 whites by the bottle, 30 reds by the bottle, and 10 additional wines by the glass, will focus mostly on selections from Italy, French, and California, with “flourishes of South African and Spanish wines” said McHale. In all, the restaurant will stock around different 80 wines, or close to 100 including sparkling wines.

Located directly off the Lounge is an approximately 800 square-foot nautical-themed dining room, its walls adorned with antique maritime signal flags and an antique oar, among other items. Jenkins said she chose this theme because both of her daughters row crew.

Tucked into the rear of the establishment is another dining room about the same size, the Library, which is furnished with a plethora of antiques and curios, including Chippendale dining chairs from Leonard’s, framed oil paintings, and a 1928 flag from UMass Amherst – Jenkins’ alma mater.

A 43-inch flatscreen can also be found in the Library, which is the same size as the TV behind the bar in the Lodge. The TV in the Lounge, however, resembles a framed oil painting when not in use.

“We want to get the best of both worlds by being able to watch the Sox, but also to have it blend in [when the TV is off],” said McHale.

Jenkins, who lived on Beacon Hill part-time about a decade ago, said she’s been greatly encouraged by all the neighbors who’ve been dropping by the window to check on the progress they’ve been making..

“The community has been so great and supportive,” said Jenkins.

Visit 1928beaconhill.com or call 857-233-5662 for more information.

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