Originally printed in the December 2019 issue of Produce Business.
Sleek spot demonstrates exceptional use of fruits and vegetables with coastal mediterranean cuisine
Tucked in a corner of Boston’s Atlantic Wharf sits TRADE, a lively, full-service Mediterranean restaurant. The 203-seat spot was opened in 2011 by partners, Chef Jody Adams (a two-time James Beard Award Winner), Eric Papachristos and Sean Griffing.
“The name reflects a composite of ideas,” says Adams. “Historically, Atlantic Wharf was a site of international trade. Currently the neighborhood is the financial district, and the menu reflects the collection of culinary ideas that I’ve gathered through my travels in the Mediterranean.”
The thriving venue brings in about $4.7 million a year. At lunch, the customers are a business crowd. “They want healthy food and want to be in and out in about an hour,” says Adams. “At night, we see all kinds of people who join us for social and business reasons.”
Sourcing For Variety
Given the restaurant’s small plate Mediterranean-based orientation, sourcing produce plays a major role. Adams reports weekly spending on produce is an estimated $3,000 plus. “This depends on how busy the week is and how many private dining events we have,” she says.
The restaurant ensures diversity and quality of produce ingredients by purchasing from a mix of suppliers. “We source from a variety of local farmers and visit farmers markets when the season permits,” says Adams. “In addition, we use large-scale produce vendors such as Baldor and Sid Wainer, as well as general wholesale vendors throughout the year. Using large-scale vendors allows for access to a large variety of products and competitive pricing as well as produce from local farms.”
Quality, safety and value make up key criteria for produce sourcing. “We look for safe and reputable purveyors with competitive pricing,” says Adams. “We change our menus seasonally, about six times a year, so we buy locally and seasonally as much as possible.
Produce, including vegetables and herbs, play a major role in the restaurant’s menu. “The menu is based on Mediterranean cuisines — French, Italian, Spanish, Greek — that truly celebrate vegetables,” says Adams. “Vegetables and herbs give TRADE’s menu its particular character.”
At least 50% of the menu is vegetarian, and dishes with protein still significantly incorporate produce. “We think produce should be celebrated and central to the meal,” says Adams. “In some dishes, vegetables are the center of the plate, in others they accompany a protein.”
The menu begins with an offering of 10 small plate vegetable options including Truffled Chickpea Fries, Hummus, Crispy Spanakopita Cigars and Heirloom Squash Ravioli. The Baby Tuscan Kale pairs Marcona almonds and dates in a lemon tahini dressing. Vegetable flavors become magnified in several dishes: Roasted Cauliflower melded with Serrano raisin sauce, capers and cilantro; Roman-style Baby Artichokes in a caper lemon aioli, Parmesan and parsley; and Brussels Sprouts fried with ginger honey, fresno chiles and pepitas. A local Burrata offers an amazingly flavorful bite with apple-pear chutney, thin sliced green grapes, sweet and delicate champagne grapes and microgreens.
Adams combines sweet potatoes, roasted tomatoes, charred eggplant, coconut yogurt and curry with Whole Grain Freekeh to highlight a unique vegetarian dish. A tantalizing selection of flatbreads from TRADE’s wood stone oven offers up produce elements such as San Marzano tomato, basil, pickled grapes, eggplant, peppers, and walnut sage pesto. The restaurant’s meats incorporate unique produce elements in a Ginger Lacquered Pork Belly served with scallion pancakes and Napa kimchi. Fried Chicken is joined to rainbow Swiss chard and salsa picante. The Grilled Ribeye Calotte is accompanied by smashed fingerling potatoes, local mushroom conserva and a black garlic aioli.
In TRADE’s seafood options, a Shrimp Risotto integrates Jimmy Nardello peppers, saffron and Pecorino. The Big Eye Tuna Tartare is bouyed by an aguachile (spicy cilantro) sauce with ground cherries, crisply shallot, cucumber and cilantro. The Atlantic Halibut, in a pine nut-pistachio crust, adds chickpea, baby fennel, sunchokes, kumquat and Calabrian chili. Pan Seared Scallops sit decadently on a smooth cauliflower bed, artistically trimmed with crispy pork belly, roasted shallot and black garlic.
540 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02210
Lunch: Mon-Fri, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
*Our Bites Menu is served at the bar daily from 2:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Dinner: Mon-Thurs, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Fri-Sat, 5 p.m. -11:00 p.m.