Where to Hemlock Grill at the Robert T. Lynch Municipal Golf Course in Chestnut Hill (still called Putterham, its old name, by locals), open to the public.
Why Because Chef Alex Sáenz (pronounced “Signs”) is in the kitchen with a talented team. The unspoiled 1931 clubhouse has a tall fireplace, wood paneling, an old telephone booth against one wall, and the feeling that golfers in knickers and flat caps are going to burst in. Seating inside and out on a beautiful adjacent patio. If you ever tasted Saenz’s food at the late Bisq in Inman Square (owned by Servio Garcia and Keith Pooler), at Taqueria El Barrio (owned with Garcia) or Bisq Meats and Sandwiches (with Garcia and Chris Yorty), both in the Time Out Market Boston, you know how appealing his food is.
The Back Story This is Hemlock Grill’s second season at the golf course, but the team got a late start last year, says Sáenz, so this feels like the first. The Grill at the clubhouse is open year-round; satellite grills at “the turn” (halfway point), at the driving range, and a food and beverage cart that roams the course are seasonal. In summer, the clubhouse will be open for dinner. “We’ll bring in chefs from other restaurants,” says Sáenz, who is partnered here with Yorty and Justin Baker. The name Hemlock comes from the tree’s grandeur, beauty, and strength, says Sáenz. His wife di lei, Rebecca Arnold, who closed her three popular Whole Heart Provisions restaurants, is helping out at the grill when she can; she’s a personal chef to many of her former customers di lei. Sáenz and Garcia also run El Barrio flour tortillas, a growing business.
What to Eat Slow-food versions of fast-food favorites that you order at the bar. Point to anything on the chalkboard and you’ll be thrilled. The fried chicken sandwich with ranch dressing on a potato bun is stunning (Sáenz is famous for this; fried chicken also comes in a basket). Homemade chips, thin slices of potato, are so spicy and salty you won’t be able to keep your fingers out of the pile. A Cubano is melty and meaty. Local fried haddock in a sandwich flakes as you bite into it, sweet and deliciously crisp, with spicy aji amarillo mayo on the bun. Pulled pork in a sandwich with housemade pickles is tossed with a warm, spicy sauce. Every vegetable in a Little Leaf salad is refreshing.
What to Drink The clubhouse has a full bar with a rotation of mixologists. The refreshing cocktail for hot summer days is The Hemlock, a spicy mezcal Margarita with pineapple.
The Takeaway This is a place for everyone who misses Bisq or can’t get to Time Out Market, for locals who need a lunch spot, or a burger and beer after work, or an early dinner. Casual menu items, made with top-notch ingredients and cooked with great skill, taste better here than anything else like them. Fore! Robert T. Lynch Municipal Golf Course, 12812 W. Roxbury Parkway, Chestnut Hill, 617-879-5687, www.hemlockgrill.com
Sheryl Julian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.