Besides cousin Mark Sewell's Maine lobsters and the exposed wood-fired oven, chef/owner Jeremy Sewell's Lineage Restaurant in Brookline's Coolidge Corner has two claims to fame: its butterscotch pudding and its brioche dinner rolls.
In terms of big-press recognition, the brioche rolls are predictably the less renowned of the two, but I'd argue they're at least as special as the dessert. They're plush, soft, deep golden brown, and lightly splashed with something (water?) that helps the coarse salt crystals stick and gives the crust a bit of sheen. The butter that comes with them is clean, rich, and unsalted, which is fine. You don't miss the seasoning with the salt on the bread. Bonus point: They arrive warm.
The rolls are so good that I asked Sewell about them a few years ago, and he said that they, as a staff, take them really seriously.
He told me a heartwarming, team-bonding anecdote about how once the brioche is made, everyone on staff gathers together to help to roll them out. Then during service, they warm the rolls to order. Each server plucks as many rolls as he or she needs for a table, places them on a metal sheet, and pushes them into the wood oven for a minute or two.
It's not a major undertaking, except that the fire is so intense; if you sit at the bar, you watch anyone who bends down toward the opening shield their face with their arms and then walk away squinting, the heat and smoke obviously stinging their eyes. I hope they know the customers think it's worth the trouble.
As for the pudding, it's got a cult-like following around Boston—and beyond. (Food and Wine ran the recipe in 2007.) The deep-ocher pudding is satiny and rich yet light-textured, not at all gloppy and stiff like the Jell-O stuff. The flavor is full-bodied and burns just a bit; it's obvious there's some scotch in that butterscotch. If there's a hint of graininess, it's almost completely obscured by the dollop of whipped cream and the crunchy candied pecans sprinkled over the top.
There's just one quibble I have about the recipe: the source of the butterscotch.
The flavor of butterscotch, as I understand, comes from a combination of butter and brown sugar. Some recipes also go a different direction and make a caramel to which butter and brown sugar are added. However, this recipe (penned by Sewell's wife and the restaurant's pastry chef, Lisa) relies on butterscotch chips I don't know why that bothers me and my stodgy, purist sensibilities a little; it shouldn't, because the pudding tastes terrific.
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