The news was devastating. Last summer, chef Ted Stelzenmuller announced that Jack’s Bistro—for a decade one of Canton’s finest restaurants, and definitely its funkiest one—was closing. But before his fans had a chance to mourn, he delivered a reprieve: He planned to open a new eatery just a few blocks away.
When Blair’s on Hudson served its first helpings of Jack’s staples, such as chocolate mac and cheese and udon noodles with bacon, mushrooms, onions, and jalapeños in January, Stelzenmuller devotees breathed a sigh of relief. We were among them. The magic was back. A mural on the outside of the corner rowhouse restaurant hails Blair’s as the “Home of the Guinness Filet,” so, during one of our spring visits, we couldn’t resist ordering it. This decadent dish is indeed worth praising on the side of a building. The tender meat and creamy bacon grits are comfort food at its finest.
We returned for a third time after the restaurant’s summer break (the annual week off is one reason Stelzenmuller’s friendly and talented staff have remained so loyal). Blair’s reopened with a revamped menu that will change on a regular basis. We began our meal with two of the new appetizers: spicy shrimp and a cold jumbo lump crab and cheese ball. Both were quite good, but the shrimp stood out for the complexity of its chili, garlic, and butter sauce.
The eclectic selection of burger and chicken sandwiches remains. We opted for the bánh mì burger, an eight-ounce patty served with hoisin sauce, pickled vegetables, cilantro, mint, and basil. It arrived perfectly prepared to our tastes (slightly red in the middle) and was terrific. Sandwiches (including a Thai BBQ pork one) are accompanied by house-smoked fries, which smell slightly like Scotch (and are almost as addictive).
A wide variety of entrees are available, including the unappetizingly named Garbage Plate. While it’s not particularly aesthetically pleasing either, the combination of a quarter-pound beef patty with American cheese and pork sausage smothered with hot sauce atop a bed of French fries and pasta salad is legendary grub in Stelzenmuller’s hometown of Rochester, New York. He’s done its century-long legacy proud.
Blair’s has a casual, neighborhood feel. Happy hour runs daily from 5-7 p.m., which means all burgers are $10 and Natty Bohs—one of the house beers, which include lagers from both China and Singapore—are just $2. (It’s no coincidence that the acronym for the restaurant is BOH.)
Similar in size to Jack’s (which is to say, quite cozy), Blair’s has retained its forerunner’s sense of whimsy. “Seriously, please do not order this. It is far too spicy to consume,” advises a menu note below the Hotter Than Hell Burger. We plan to ignore that advice when we return to what has become one of Canton’s finest and, yes, funkiest restaurants.
BLAIR’S ON HUDSON. 2822 Hudson St., 443-939-2440.
HOURS: Thur.-Fri. 5-10 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-10 p.m. PRICES: Appetizers: $8.50-18; entrees: $14-36; desserts: $5.50-9.
AMBIANCE: Neighborhood spot.