You don’t even have to step foot into Yvonne’s to know this isn’t your grandfather’s Locke-Ober. All you have to do is cross the outside threshold at 3 Winter Place, stepping into a tiny blow-dry bar that serves as the only entrance to Yvonne’s. The beauty spot, operated by Johnny Marchio of Enzo & Co., will cater to women, a segment of the population that Locke-Ober didn’t even serve till 1971.
“The spirit of Locke-Ober is something we’re trying to keep alive,” says Yvonne’s co-owner Chris Jamison. “But the execution and way to do it is going to be very different in 2015 from the way it was in 1950.”
Jamison, co-owner of Lolita Cocina, has spent nearly a year and a half getting the design in place for Yvonne’s, and the attention to detail shows throughout the supper club. The main dining room, seating 95 plus 12 at the bar, has been remade with distressed ceiling coffers, marble tile floors and crystal chandeliers, but it still includes the hand-carved Locke-Ober bar, whose mahogany wood detail has been fully restored. A painting across from the bar nods to the mix of old and new that Yvonne’s strives for, depicting a nude woman in a garden taking a selfie, a fresh take on Locke-Ober’s bygone painting of Mademoiselle Yvonne, the restaurant’s namesake. Aside from its location, every part of the sleek 65-seat library area is new, including four formal dining tables, some sofas, a fireplace and an additional bar.
“A lot of design was driven by the space. We tried to complement what existed with what was new and make it seamless,” Jamison says. “We wanted to make sure everything we were putting in was designed to be timeless and could last another 100 years.”
While the decor of Yvonne’s will garner plenty of attention, the talent assembled in the kitchen is hard to overlook. Tom Berry (Proprietors) will helm the kitchen with Juan Pedrosa (Glenville Stops) at his side, turning out a modern menu of shareable plates with global twists, split into sections of small bites, social plates, stone-fired pitas and feasts. Among the small bites will be oysters Savannah, a nod to Locke-Ober’s lobster Savannah that bakes the bivalves with sherry, cream, parmesan and mushrooms. The social plates will offer the largest selection, with dishes such as trumpet mushrooms, broccoli rabe and chicken meatballs, while the stone-fired pitas will feature flavors such as Korean fried chicken. The feasts are expected to be the show-stoppers, with four dishes available, such as a tuna that’s crispy on the outside, rare on the inside and sliced over a salad with a dipping sauce made from red-wine vinegar, garlic, basil and soy sauce.
“People assume Locke-Ober was really traditionally French. But back when it was making its mark here, it was bringing ingredients from the Middle East and Far East that people in Boston had never seen before,” Jamison says. “I think these guys are trying to introduce some interesting flavor profiles and techniques, kind of reliving those glory days.”
The shareable experience is given great emphasis at the dining room bar, overseen by Drink’s Will Thompson, which will offer large-format cocktail pitchers for four to six people, leaving the library bar to focus more on classic cocktails.
“We’re discouraging people from ordering their own stuff and encouraging the table ordering and sharing,” Jamison says. “People want a bunch of different dishes and to taste all of them. Every drink and dish we put out has been with an eye on that.”
Yvonne’s 3 Winter Place, Boston (617-375-9700) yvonnesboston.com