Dot Al fresco: Outdoor dining at Ledge, Ashmont Grill and Blarney Stone

Mike Deehan, Special to the Reporter
Aug. 23, 2012

Dotting the southern half of Dorchester Ave., three of the neighborhood’s finest restaurants also offer diners a taste of the outdoors along with some of the best menus in town. Customers from across Boston and beyond have been flocking to Dorchester’s three most popular outdoor dining venues to take in some fresh air along with fresh food and maybe a cocktail or two.

Wendell Bourne and his wife Margo of Dorchester spent their Friday evening on Ledge Kitchen and Drinks’ patio enjoying the food and the scene. Margo enjoys being outside, Wendell said, and for him “it’s a break from the air conditioning.”

“It’s in the city, but you don’t feel like you’re in the city. You feel like you’re in a nice peaceful place,” said Wendell. His wife adding, “Sometimes, you don’t have to go very far to find a treasure.”
What really brought the Bournes out was what most people are looking for in a dining experience.

“Why not? It’s Friday night. I’m off. I don’t cook,” Wendell said.

Since opening in 2009, Ledge has been the undisputed king of outdoor dining in Lower Mills. Ledge offers an expansive patio with an outdoor bar and a large private table separated from the rest of the diners. A seating area off to the side can be used for special events or parties.
Assistant general manager John Comeau credits some of Ledge’s appeal to its vast rooftop garden, one of the largest in New England, he says, which supplies an array of fresh vegetables and herbs for the kitchen’s use.

Peabody Square’s Ashmont Grill has a long back patio surrounded by landscaping and eye-catching sculpture. The area is covered by large pieces of fabric suspended over the dining area to give customers much-needed shade. A large outdoor fire pit and several torches light the patio in the evening hours while an oyster bar in one corner stands ready to dish out bivalves by the dozen.

“It’s kind of what I wish our backyard looked like,” said Mark D’Agostino of Brockton, who said he and his wife Meredith often travel into Dorchester to eat at Ashmont Grill. Since it opened nearly six years ago, owner Chris Douglass’ restaurant has become a favorite spot for finer dining in the neighborhood, counting local notables like Gov. Deval Patrick and his wife Diane as regular patrons. D’Agostino said that though there is typically more room for outdoor seating in the suburbs, restaurants rarely do much with the space and leave you feeling like you’re sometimes “dining in a parking lot.”

“They’ve done a lot with what little space they have here,” D’Agostino said.

The gem of Fields Corner, the Blarney Stone offers an outdoor seating section you would never guess is wedged between busy Dorchester Ave. and the often boisterous Fields Corner shopping mall on Park St. What was once an old-school Irish pub has become one of Dorchester’s most popular eateries after being renovated into a neighborhood spot for both old timers and new. The smallest patio of the three, the Blarney Stone offers diners a more secluded experience, with leafy trees hanging over tables to give the space a sylvan feel.