WellesleyWeston Magazine

SUMMER 2016

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Within minutes of walking into the building, Stokes knew he could turn the influences of the Franklin Café and Tuscan Grill into something remarkable at Red Bird. "It was obvious it could work," he recalls. He had just decided to strike out on his own with a new place — one that would continue the Franklin Café tradition of creating a welcoming, fun, unpretentious neighborhood environment, in an intimate space. "The physical size of the Franklin was similar to the Tuscan Grill," he says of the 75-seat room. "Small kitchens are difficult — you have to have worked in one to know what you can generate from it. This was right in my wheelhouse with a very functional layout, nice bar, and the small kitchen was up my alley." Invoking the down-to-earth, friendly energy of the Franklin Café seemed entirely doable in such a space. For the neighborhood, it was also an ideal time to transform the Tuscan Grill into a new incarnation. It had been a staple of the commu- nity for 22 years, yet Stokes says, "By the time I bought it, it was time for a change there. People recognized that. They felt it needed revital- ization, so it wasn't like we were going in and taking over something that was in its prime. So diners welcomed that." From the get-go, those diners eagerly became regulars — and there are even more of them now that the restaurant has won awards and media accolades since opening halfway through 2014. Drawing hungry folks from of course Waltham, but also Wellesley, Weston, Newton, and Concord, the New American bistro is buzzing almost every night of the week. (Its small size dictates that most tables are reservation- only. How ever, a cluster of tables is held back for walk-ins.) And what are they all here for? Largely, for the seasonally inspired comfort food that has been a hallmark of Stokes all along. Settled into the dimly lit, cushy banquettes set against brick walls, they happily tuck into soul-warming dishes such as mussels in smoked tomato broth, revved up with bacon and roasted fennel—one of the few dishes on the menu that has never been taken off. Or in winter, the kitchen will spot- light the likes of duck confit with root vegetable hash and Hollandaise sauce. In summer, Stokes leans on local farms for specials that dramati- cally highlight fresh, just-picked salad ingredients. P H O T O S B Y A N D Y R Y A N local cuisine "soul-warming dishes" 178 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s u m m e r 2 0 1 6

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