Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Lineage is a Tradition Worth Keeping

Given that this ravenous reviewer intends to take his mother out for an unforgettable birthday dinner, and spend it alongside his spouse, his brother, and his brother’s wife, what finer and more fitting way then but to spend it at Lineage, a Brookline-based eatery that celebrates family heritage? After all, Jeremy and Lisa Sewall form a potent husband-and-wife tandem whose concept of “Lineage” spawns from the former’s very own (for instance, one fascinating tidbit is that one of his predecessors served as Brookline’s first Town Clerk and even lent the name of his family’s “Brooklin” lands to this very community). Will Lineage ultimately continue Mr. Sewall’s longstanding family tradition of perfection or will Paul’s Palate recommend that this establishment be removed from the family tree?

Lineage’s interior is sleek, yet warm, and deceptively large. To our left, we discover an airy dining area, and straight ahead, a greenish, modestly-lit bar where several lively patrons are seated. We select a more slightly intimate room to our right, which includes plush carpeting and a soothing maritime painting sprawled against its back wall. Our jovial hostess greets us and directs us to our table.

What our server lacks in vivacity and menu mastery, she accounts for in both courtesy and attentiveness. Her first cocktail recommendation is a Brazilian rum that is supposed to be sweet but resembles nothing more than a bland mojito. The refreshingly sweet Lineage Lemonade, however, is a real crowd pleaser: refreshing, sweet, and playfully presented in the form of a “black and tan” (in this case, red and yellow).

For appetizers, our server encourages us to sample the luscious halibut tacos, a unique dish whose buttery, moist fish is the most mouth-watering I’ve had in recent memory. The only shortcoming here is that only four are plated. This reviewer is prepared to jump out of his seat and seek out Mr. Sewall to ascertain if this particular family recipe is for sale. Not to be outdone, however, is the homemade tomato soup served with truffle oil and crisp beignets. The soup is light, yet hearty, sooths one’s stomach, and is the perfect lead-in to our main courses.

My spouse’s pork is both succulent and meaty, accompanied by savory roasted figs, fingerling potatoes, and spinach. The remainder of our table gnaws on savory steak layered with bleu cheese and mashed potatoes. I must admit, however, that my homemade potato gnocchi dish reigns supreme. In stark contrast to most gnocchi dishes which are typically served Italian style (on the heavier side with tomato sauce), the Sewalls bravely render this delicacy as if it has emerged straight from their own personal garden. Sweet corn and vibrantly colored lobster mushrooms adorn this light, yet delectable dish.

The dessert debate begins and abruptly ends with Lineage’s signature dish, its butterscotch pudding. Once again, the Sewalls break slightly from tradition by replacing the prototypically gooey-textured concoction with a pasty, Mazapan-like sweet substance, which is drizzled with both Chantilly cream and caramelized pecans. This dish would convert the most skeptical of pudding phobes, myself included.

In terms of its location, Lineage can be viewed as either a blessing or a curse. For atmosphere alone, the restaurant resides on bustling Harvard Street just outside of college-friendly Coolidge Corner. Parking spaces, however, are scarce in this vicinity, so be prepared to walk. I, however, would gladly venture across all of Boston just to get a taste of what the Sewalls have cooked up. After all, their menu is reasonably priced compared to their urban bretheren (appetizers average $12, entrees come in around $24, and desserts at $8). Lineage ultimately upholds two key traditions: first, maintaining Mr. Sewall’s upstanding family reputation within the Brookline community, and most importantly, appealing to Paul’s Palate’s taste buds.