Confession time: I had never been to chef JJ Boston's famous dinners until he invited me out last Friday night to his new downtown location. Here's what I did know about him and his business model: His ticketed dinners almost always sold out, and his big green smoker/grills were on my eccentric billionaire bucket list.
What's amazing about his business model is he does nothing but private, ticketed events. You can't walk into either location for a drop-in dinner or lunch, and it's unlikely you'll be able to score a dinner ticket unless you're on the chef's email list. You can, however, learn to grill and smoke at either location's cooking and grilling classes. Between those two offerings Boston has built quite a local empire without ever opening for regular service.
Dinners are multi-course, and this one included a local beer pairing. Boston invited out all of the brewers to talk about their beer and how they came to put the flavor profile together. Meanwhile, the JJ's chefs came out and chatted about their dishes and the inspirations behind them. It's reminiscent of all the things I like about Chefs' Night Off dinners, but with the identity of a set group of chefs. Boston is proving that he continues to have his finger on the pulse of what diners want today: to be closer to their food and chefs than ever before.
And it was an outstanding set of dishes that came out of the kitchen, spanning a variety of ethnic influences. There were interesting nods to technique, like authentic lye-bathed pretzels, most of it served family style.
But the food itself is only one part of the draw of the restaurant. (Event space? Dining concept? We're not sure what to call it, really.) Up on the roof, Boston has a handful of the famous Green Eggs, a small garden, and what might be the best view of Lucas Oil Stadium anywhere in the city. Up there, you can enjoy a grilling demonstration or just take in the view.
But not for the rest of the month of July. And probably not during August, by the time this hits newsstands. Act fast, though, and you might be able to snag a seat for September. You didn't read this page to hear any more about the structure or the view, so we'll finish with a food show on the adjoining page.
Profile: Chef JJ's Downtown
Where: 42 W. South St.
Hours: Private events only
Food: 4.5 stars
Service: 5 stars
Atmosphere: 5 stars