Vanderbilt’s New Owners Showcase Casual New England Cuisine

Posted August 1, 2017 by Kayla Baker in Dining Downtown: Restaurant Reviews
Vanderbilt's Crab BLT

Nestled among the tall office buildings of Liberty Square sits a short brick building at 105 Water Street. Once the location of a turn-of-the-century bank, the large picture-windowed space has transferred between restaurant owners who allowed patrons to dine beside (and for some lucky people, within) its impressive iron vault. Recently, the team behind Downtown’s well loved Stoddard’s Kitchen and Bar has taken over and added the Vanderbilt restaurant to their portfolio. Patrick DeFrietas and the Cintolo family perfected locally-inspired cocktails and food at Stoddard’s and intend to continue this legacy at Vanderbilt, with a casual menu directed towards the lunch and after-work crowds.

Vanderbilt Vault

The iron vault at Vanderbilt. Photo Credit: Kayla Baker

The decor at Vanderbilt certainly lives up to its luxurious name; the restaurant opens directly onto an antique copper bar and expansive dining room dotted with floral arrangements and halogen light fixtures. Tan leather booths line the perimeter of the dining room and an iron staircase invites patrons downstairs to see the original bank vault for which the space is known. I commented to our waiter on the decor and he explained that the Stoddard’s team kept many of the original fixtures that add historic charm to the space.

Vanderbilt is currently operating with a limited menu as chef Jason Fiset builds out a full offering of New England cuisine, but the restaurant still has a plethora of inventive sandwiches and burgers to choose from. The bar, however, is operating at full speed with a 12-tap draft list and dozens of wines and cocktails. I started my meal with an heirloom tomato salad and a strawberry sour craft beer from Vermont, carried exclusively by Vanderbilt. The salad combines local heirloom tomatoes and arugula with mozzarella balls and pine nut pesto for a fresh summer fare. Combined with the tart strawberry beer, it would make for the perfect light lunch.

Vanderbilt's Heirloom Tomato Salad

Vanderbilt’s perfectly light Heirloom Tomato Salad. Photo Credit: Kayla Baker

However, I couldn’t leave before I tried a signature cocktail and sandwich. The current cocktails and sandwiches are based off of New England staples like fresh seafood and berries. I opted for the New England mule, which is Vanderbilt’s twist on the Moscow mule, and a crab BLT. The mule substituted ginger syrup for the traditional ginger beer and added cranberries and lemons to the mix. Much like its Cape Codder inspiration, the drink was a perfect sweet but tart warm weather treat. The crab BLT featured a fried soft shell crab on an otherwise unassuming BLT; the crab was well breaded and fried and added an extra layer of crunch atop the crispy bacon and lettuce. This sandwich brings the best of Cape Cod or Nantucket fare straight into the heart of the city.

While saddened that the dessert menu hasn’t been developed yet, I am excited to see how the menu at Vanderbilt evolves as the Stoddard’s team throws their weight into their newest project. The Liberty Square area is known as one of the quieter pockets of Downtown Boston, but Vanderbilt is sure to attract a large and lively crowd.