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The advocate for a proper meal
At a time when nearly every successful restaurant seems to be a business-dining steakhouse or a small-plates free-for-all, Nancy Batista-Caswell reminds diners that sitting down to a proper meal — with an appetizer, main course, dessert and some wine — is truly a great thing.
That aptly describes Oak & Rowan, which Batista-Caswell opened about a year ago near the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. She didn’t want the restaurant to be another corporate dining room, like those that dominate the neighborhood, but she didn’t want it to be a hipster nosh-fest, either.
“It’s really designed to walk somebody through having their own meal,” said Batista-Caswell, who also owns two restaurants, Ceia Kitchen & Bar and Brine, in the Boston suburb of Newburyport, Mass.
“There’s something to be said about an orchestrated main course meal and all the components which the chef wants you to enjoy,” she said. “The way you eat that dish when it’s designed for just you may be more thoughtful than when you’re just grabbing from a shared plate, when you might miss the acid component or an additional garnish that breaks through the richness.”
Her steady vision has been good for business.
“I think we connected with the community really well in terms of what we were looking to do and what guests were looking for from us,” she said.
The result has been positive reviews and plenty of corporate business from conventioneers and others who want easy access to Logan International Airport.
Batista-Caswell is still figuring out how to transition between being a hands-on operator and a restaurateur on a larger scale. She was the opening general manager of Oak & Rowan because she wanted to be in charge of creating the restaurant’s culture.
“That was beneficial, having a hands-on owner that is willing to roll up the sleeves and work beside them and get under a table and help them find something,” she said. “We created a bond that allowed us to retain a lot of our operating staff.”