Five Horses Tavern offers hearty comfort foods with a healthy twist

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BOSTON – Exposed red brick walls and a dark long wooden bar welcome customers to the Five Horses Tavern in the trendy South End. The hearty American fare on the menu and the warm atmosphere make you feel perfectly cozy, especially with the dark cold winter days ahead.

The restaurant serves up locally sourced modern comfort food with a number of vegetarian options. From classic mac and cheese to pork belly tacos, there is something for almost everyone to dig their forks into.

The fleur blanc seared cauliflower planks (NewBostonPost, photo by Beth Treffeisen)

The fleur blanc seared cauliflower planks (NewBostonPost, photo by Beth Treffeisen)

Behind the menu is Erica Keefe, who moved over to the culinary world in 2012 after working as an accountant for a construction business. She landed a job at Five Horses Tavern after attending culinary school and rose through the ranks, eventually becoming executive chef.

She has ruled the kitchen for two-and-a-half years, providing healthy but filling meals for a variety of dietary needs. Keefe said she tries to put a number of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options on the menu.

“I try to rotate them a lot because many times vegans walk into a restaurant and there is only one option and they go, ‘Eh, I don’t want to eat that again,’ so why would they come back if it is going to be the same thing?” said Keefe.

Butternut squash arancini (NewBostonPost, photo by Beth Treffeisen)

Butternut squash arancini (NewBostonPost, photo by Beth Treffeisen)

The menu shares only a few items with its sister restaurant in Davis Square in Somerville, also called Five Horses Tavern. Keefe said they have a different crowd at the South End location that enjoys more wholesome options even though she expected to see more of a vegan and vegetarian crowd in the neighborhood.

On the starter menu, the fleur blanc – made up of smoked, seared cauliflower planks, laying on romesco, a nut and red-pepper based sauce with soy sauce vinaigrette, chive oil, topped with parsley and pine – is so beautifully presented that is almost too pretty to bite into.

On the heartier side, the butternut squash arancini, with fried creamy butternut squash risotto crocquettes with warmed blue cheese and rosemary cream sauce, is the perfect gooey appetizer for a bracing winter night.

"Just the vegan-ning" pizza (NewBostonPost, photo by Beth Treffeisen)

“Just the vegan-ning” pizza (NewBostonPost, photo by Beth Treffeisen)

If you are looking for more of a classic dish try one of their pizzas, which are perfect for sharing or can be a meal all in itself. The “just the vegan-ning” pizza is topped with colorful grilled summer squash and zucchini, caramelized onion, heirloom tomatoes, mushrooms and basil puree.

The bar features craft beers from around the world – 36 rotating drafts and 80 bottled choices – to pair with menu items. A January feature is PUNCH IT!, which combines flavors of orange, cocoa and winter spices that will go well alongside brunch or with one of the restaurant’s sweet and savory offerings on Pancake Mondays.

PUNCH IT! feature cocktail at Five Horses Tavern. (NewBostonPost, photo by Beth Treffeisen)

PUNCH IT! feature cocktail at Five Horses Tavern (NewBostonPost, photo by Beth Treffeisen)

For a more traditional cocktail, go for the Pimm’s Winter Cup, a seasonal revitalizing cocktail that balances spices, ginger beer and alcohol.

Whether you are looking for an after-work drink, brunch with friends, or a romantic dinner spot, Five Horses Tavern provides the atmosphere and delicious fare that will please even the pickiest of eaters.

Five Horses Tavern, 535 Columbus Ave., Boston