As I began to plan my recent birthday celebration, the idea of taking a class a Barbara Lynch’s Stir demonstration kitchen immediately came to mind. Located on a quiet neighborhood street in Boston’s South End, Stir is a cookbook store by day and intimate dining room by night.
Evoking the essence of a private supper club, Stir features 10 seats around a U-shaped table and at the helm is a cooktop and prep area for the chef. Each dinner features a five to six course tasting menu complemented by wine pairings from Stir’s on-site sommelier. The best part? You don’t know what the menu is until you arrive and you won’t know the other people dining with you unless you bring your own dining party. It’s certainly a lesson in not only culinary exploration, but also sociability!
The calendar for Stir’s classes gets released on the first of the month for the following month’s schedule and if you want first pick and to ensure seat availability, you need to book your class that day. The classes sell out quickly, which in my opinion, adds to the intrigue of the whole experience – the early bird certainly gets the worm! The calendar is set up by dinner theme (again, you don’t know what you are actually eating until you arrive, so choose your theme wisely!) and for my birthday dinner, we chose the theme of “French Comfort Country Classics.”
After excitedly waiting a month for the dinner, when our Stir evening finally arrived, I could not wait! The dress code is smart casual (don’t forget you are going to be eating a lot!) and the vibe is cozy, so I opted for an all black look with a faux leather Free People skirt and black turtleneck paired with my favorite Lele Sadoughi pearl embellished headband (my friend, Lauren, clearly had the same idea…!). The doors open 15 minutes ahead of the dinner and if you want a prime viewing seat, I’d suggest getting there early. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted with a glass of bubbly and I encourage you to browse the awesome selection of cookbooks for sale!
Once all of the guests arrive – which feels a bit like “Clue” wondering who is going to walk in next – the introductions get underway and the meal commences. Each dish and wine pairing is thoughtfully explained and if you happen to finish your wine, rest assured, more is on its way, as the pours are very plentiful! For this meal, we enjoyed a rich selection of French comfort food favorites such as French Onion Crepes, a Cassoulet and Beef Bourguignon. The Stir staff is incredibly warm and welcoming and the Chef is more than happy to answer any of your cooking questions. It’s fun to watch him complete the finishing touches to each dish and perfectly plate them for your enjoyment.
At the end of the meal, guests are encouraged to share their favorite dish, wine, and pairing. My favorite dish was the Beef Bourguignon, my favorite wine was the Muscat (not sweet and perfectly balanced!) and my favorite pairing was the Beef Bourguignon and Bordeaux.
This dinner at Stir was my third time there and I can safely say, it is my favorite dining experience in Boston; and that’s saying a lot! I highly recommend looking into it for an upcoming special occasion, as it’s a memorable way to enjoy a meal.
For more information on Stir, check out www.stirboston.com.