We know what you’re thinking: you don’t belong in Beacon Hill.
We all feel that way. The neighborhood is designed to make us feel unwelcome, we the riffraff of Boston, schlepping up and down our triple-deckers and waiting for yet another delayed Red Line train. None of us can afford to live in Beacon Hill, and given that the park in Louisburg Square is locked, we’re apparently not even welcome to play (or sit on our phones) here, either. Even the two Charles Street Starbucks locations betray you, replacing their green awnings with gold-scripted wooden signage. At least the baristas will still spell “Michael” with a P, a W, and a third unknown letter that may or may not be the Prince symbol.
At first glance, the Hungry I, a date-night spot on Charles Street that’s old enough to legally run for President, seems almost as unwelcoming as the neighborhood where it’s located. But don’t be intimidated, because inside you’ll find something that’s increasingly rare: an unironically romantic restaurant serving food and drinks that will make you feel rich, even if you were late for your reservation because you got in a fight with the guy at the laundromat who took your clothes out the washing machine (again).
Classic French food isn’t exactly cool right now, but The Hungry I is a place where you’ll enjoy eating it. Picture a fancy dinner scene in an ’80s movie. You know those hard-to-pronounce dishes scriptwriters use to show how rich Charlie Sheen’s parents are? That’s what you’ll find here: duck l’orange, coq au vin, and beef bourguignon. You probably hear these names more than you see them on a menu these days, but eat them at the Hungry I and you’ll see why they got so popular in the first place. None of the food is going to blow you away, but every dish here is a solid rendition of an old classic.
Most importantly, the space is beautiful. Stepping down off the sidewalk and through a narrow alley that looks more likely to lead to the servants’ quarters than to a bistro, you find yourself in a space that could be John Kerry’s sitting room. The white tablecloths, soft candlelight, and benches covered with pillows make it a great spot to wait out a snowstorm. If it’s a nice night, though, sit outside in the quiet, brick-walled courtyard. With dangling ivy and statues that might have been stolen from the MFA, the Hungry I is in the running for the best outdoor dining spot in Boston.
So go take back Beacon Hill. It takes a trust fund to actually live here, but with a couple of $30 entrees and some crisp martinis, it can be yours for the night.
The seasonal fruit chutney it’s served with elevates an otherwise predictable dish.
A classic American entree made unmistakably French with a rich topping of melted brie and sides of thickly-sauced mushrooms and squash.
Get it on one of those terrible Boston winter nights and let it warm you up.
It’s garlic, it’s butter, and it’s alien-like animal that lives in the ground. And it’s delicious.