'Dining Out' Section - April, 2002
...the exotic Back Bay restaurant Jewel of Newbury, a place of excitement and some mystery.
The Jewel of Newbury may seem like a Back Bay enigma. But the real mystery is why no one knows about this North African gem.
Our energetic host, the native Algerian Mouldi Sayeh, had greeted us with the kind of enthusiasm that implied we should do what he thought best.
Soon after he established his small restaurant in the basement of the luxury boutique hotel that he had already opened in an elegant townhouse between Fairfield and Gloucester streets, a colleague started telling me it was the best place to eat in Boston.
The clientele I saw was certainly varied...What nearly everyone seemed to have in common was an air of knowing they had found a hidden gem.
By our second visit, Sayeh was turning us into friends too, inviting us up to the ground floor of the hotel and showing off the elaborate restorations he had done himself...he showed us recent letters of support from members of the Boston establishment who wrote to say how much they continued to enjoy his restaurant.
The Jewel is really a kind of a club, built around the personality of the proprietor. The food is as my colleague said: Mediterranean, made with fresh and good ingredients, and simple. Sayeh supervises a rotating staff of cooks to turn out the kind of food he says he learned to make as a teenager in Algeria...the kinds of dishes you wish your North African grandmother would make, if you had one.
...once you get the feel of the place, you'll likely enjoy it.
The Jewel is a labor of love, a curious and often rewarding adventure.