Long before Stan Hilbert had his own restaurant, he had a name in mind. “I love foraging for mushrooms. I do it with my kids. It’s one of my passions, and it’s something I’ve done for years,” Hilbert says. “I always thought, if I’m going to open a place, it’s going to be called Forage.”
After eight years of working at Ten Tables in Jamaica Plain, he heard owner Krista Kranyak was selling her Cambridge outpost on Craigie Street, and he seized the opportunity. Forage opened in mid-April, less than four months after the last dinner service at Ten Tables. Nothing has changed structurally, but Hilbert applied a fresh coat of off-white paint, added some plants and took out the window treatments to brighten up the space.
“When you walk in, it definitely doesn’t feel like a basement anymore,” says Hilbert, who’s also worked at L’Espalier. “There’s a visual brightness and also a brightness of flavors.”
Hilbert tapped Eric Cooper as chef and says the menu will hew to a traditional format of starters and mains. Starters include dishes like roasted roots with tobasi cheese and preserved lemons as well as scallop spaetzle with brown butter, crispy sage leaves and braised celery leeks. Mains range from a Vietnamese clay pot catfish with rice, pea greens and a ginger vinaigrette to a mushroom cassoulet that uses mushrooms sourced from Mycoterra Farm in Westhampton.
“We’ll be highlighting our many farmer friends that we’ve made over the years,” Hilbert says. “The menu is going to be changing daily because of that.”
Joe Choiniere is helming the bar, offering a “small but approachable” wine list and cocktails like the Cooper, a blend of Berkshire Mountain bourbon, Punt e Mes, local angelica and allspice. Weekend brunch service is in the works, but for now Forage is open for dinner seven nights a week. Hilbert has hired some staff from Ten Tables, and he hopes he’ll see some customers who frequented the restaurant become regulars at Forage.
“In terms of food and service, it’s not far from what’s been here before. People will be happy to see what we’re doing here, that we’re not changing any of the basics or trying to reinvent the wheel. They’ll be happy to find their neighborhood spot intact,” Hilbert says. “My wife worked at the Craigie location for a year. I have a bit of history in it, so for people who love the location, I have that in my heart as well.”
Forage 5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge (617-576-5444) foragecambridge.com