Approachable French Fare at Artistry on the Green

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Led by owner Trisha Pérez Kennealy, Artistry on the Green brings French-meets-American cuisine to Lexington.

When the leaders behind the American Revolution were planning their rebellion, they plotted in Boston’s taverns and inns. On the eve of the Battle of Lexington, the Minutemen waited for the sign to go while sipping ale at the Buckman Tavern.

Just down the road from that historic site lies a new inn—with an accompanying restaurant instead of a tavern—that combines the spirit of independence with neighborhood comfort. Lexington is the latest historic town center in New England to benefit from the quietly burgeoning trend of villages receiving a first-class upgrade, including the refurbishment of some of the region’s independent inns and the introduction of new ones, particularly those that include the gustatory pleasures of great cuisine by up-and-coming chefs. The 22-room boutique Inn at Hastings Park sets the bar high with Artistry on the Green, its stylish restaurant.

Located in the main building of the Inn’s three-building compound, Artistry on the Green feels both cozy and chic. A zinc bar with tufted navy upholstery greets diners on the way to the 54-seat dining room, where trompe l’oeil wallpaper (printed in Western Massachusetts) artfully mimics coffered walls. Owner Trisha Pérez Kennealy sought New England artisans to stage the scene: design firm O&G Studio, comprised of Rhode Island School of Design graduates, crafted a surprisingly comfortable update of American Windsor spindle chairs. A Rhode Island foundry custom made the footings for the ashwood tables. A gorgeous fireplace is the centerpiece of the room.

This thoughtful design is the backdrop to some excellent food. Kennealy, who was educated at Harvard, is herself a Le Cordon Bleu–trained chef. She brought on Mathew Malloy, formerly of Lumière and Beacon Hill Bistro, as executive chef. While the cuisine has a backbone of French influences—think confit tomatoes and braises in white wine—it is clearly American, with an emphasis on all things local and fresh.

Spring specialties such as asparagus soup with a crispy poached egg and salsa verde make the point. Eggs and asparagus are a classic culinary combination, but Malloy offers a preparation that is wholly his own, chilling the perfectly poached egg before dipping it in panko crumbs and frying it lightly. It adds just the right texture to the creamy soup, while the salsa verde brings brightness. All the pasta has the toothy feel of being made in-house, which it is. Malloy pairs it with traditional sauces, but also lighter, vegetable-based braises like a baby artichoke barigoule. Malloy serves lamb, the season’s most tender protein, two ways—as a braised shoulder and a belly cut. And Malloy isn’t afraid to add a touch of artistry to the plate—he removes the bones on the shoulder cut and shapes the meat into a neat and savory medallion.

The cocktail program highlights some of the same fresh fruits and herbs Malloy uses in the kitchen, says General Manager Daniel Braun, formerly of Newport’s Castle Hill Inn. Ninety of the restaurant’s 100 wines are “a tribute to American tradition,” says Kennealy, and are priced for value and experimentation. Kennealy, a beer connoisseur, is as excited about the beer list—much of it small-batch, local microbrews—as she is about the food.

For Kennealy, the restaurant is the formalization of what she has been doing for friends and family her whole life. During her childhood in Puerto Rico, she remembers her family and neighbors cooking and hanging out together, a sort of open house 365 days a year. Friends here in Boston attest that she still embodies that philosophy. It’s a rare dinner when only Kennealy, her husband, Michael, and their three children are seated at the dining table. More typical are epic backyard barbecues and beer tastings. Kennealy first began to put this same energy into a formal catering business, Artistry Boston, three years ago. She also owns AK Bistro and Artistry Kitchen in Franklin, a restaurant and a gourmet market that sells Malloy’s homemade pastas and other prepared foods to go. Kennealy’s new venture in Lexington extends her Artistry empire to an exciting frontier. 2027 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington, 781-301-6660

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