The New Year has started off with a bang. Or more like a flame. Sadly this Tuesday morning around 2am, the strip of restaurants along Peterborough Street in the Fenway was gutted by a 4-alarm fire. As we got to our computers this morning, emails, g-chats, and Facebook messages started pouring in from our college friends, with whom we spent many days loitering in these exact restaurants. While it might seem foolish to be emotional over a restaurant burning down, we can’t help but think that with the plates and dishes that disappeared, so did endless memories of these fabulous, independently run restaurants where so much of our lives developed.
Rod-Dee Thai Cuisine gave us some of the most delicious pad Thai we could ask for. Luckily they still have two branches in Brookline, but we can’t forget the spot we’d hop to for a “sodium coma.” El Pelon Taquieria, which burnt down once last year and had just rebuilt, will be remembered as having some of the most authentic Mexican cuisine in Boston. Just a tiny hole in the wall of a restaurant, but outside picnic tables connected each of the restaurants to each other with laughing students, employees, and area residents on warm, sunny days. It was as casual as could be, but simply perfect for the clientele.
Tiny Japanese restaurant Umi, often the receiver of phone calls from people trying to contact the hair salon on Newbury Street with the same name, holds many memories for us as well. We remember a Japanese professor who took our class there for lunch after the completion of a semester. The restaurant was filled with area college employees on lunch break, and everyone simply enjoyed each other’s company. Also destroyed was Greek Isles, known to be one of the only authentic Greek restaurants in Boston proper.
But we must admit, the destruction that makes us nearly shed a tear is that of Thornton’s Fenway Grill. Rather than just a place to eat in the Fenway, Thornton’s was a legend. Hung-over students and post-grads lined the tables and tried to come back to life with their gigantic portions and Bloody Mary’s. Endless men and women lined the bar to watch the Sox, while tables were pushed together for boatloads of local college students to laugh and eat in their sweatpants. When it became warm enough, we’d sit at the tables outside and drink beers into the evening, along with the massive nachos and cheese fries the waitresses would sling our way. It wasn’t gourmet, but it was the perfect way for friends to connect and enjoy each other’s company.
At this point, we don’t know who plans to rebuild, and when. $5 million worth of damage has been done, and a cause is still unknown. We send out endless sympathies to the owners and many dedicated workers of these restaurants where we spent our days and several nights. While your establishments may have burnt to the ground, we are thankful for the endless memories you have given us.
[Photo: Alyssa DiPasquale]