Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Locke-Ober - A Boston Tradition

Every time Restaurant Week rolls around I always debate whether I am going to take advantage because, like a lot of people, I have had some good and some bad Restaurant Week experiences.  Recently, though, restaurants who cannot do the limited menu well have stopped participating.  Others, like the Butcher Shop,  I have done because you can actually make reservations when traditionally they don't take them.  The other strategy is to go for a more expensive place that we would not otherwise plan on going to, which was how this year we decided on on Locke-Ober.  While I had been there a number of years ago (back when Lydia Shire was involved), Nick hadn't, so it seemed like a good option.

Locke-Ober is tucked away off Winter Street in Downtown Crossing, a bit of a dodgy area but definitely getting cleaner.  Once you walk through the front doors, however, you feel like you have not only stepped into a different world but a different time.  While the jackets are not required for men anymore, the guests seem to respect the restaurant's history and dress accordingly.  With the amazing wood carvings and details that date back to the mid 1800's, he interior is really quite striking.

Inside Locke Ober
After taking the space all in, we looked over the cocktail and wine list.  Since the Ward 8 was just featured in Eater Boston's 15 Most Iconic Drinks, I knew I would be ordering it - it's a mixture of rye whiskey, lemon juice, lime juice and some grenadine all topped off with a maraschino cherry.  The drink was sweeter than I expected but still good and made me feel like I was enjoying a bit of history.

Ward 8
Nick went with a Moscow Mule that was served in the appropriate copper mug, another good staple drink.

Moscow Mule
Insignia on each plate
Even on the butter!
For an appetizer, Nick ordered the Chilled Mint Gazpacho with cracked pepper aioli.  A surprisingly large portion served with plenty of veggies.  There was a lovely depth in the dish, without an overwhelming minty flavor.  Definitely a strong first course.

Chilled Mint Gazpacho
I went very basic with the Crispy Calamari, arugula and shaved sea salt.  The calamari was tender with a nice golden fried outer layer.  What I loved was the strong peppery arugula.  So often arugula doesn't have that bite that makes it something different than lettuce!  The arugula in this dish provided a nice contrast in texture and flavor.

Crispy Calamari
For a main course, I chose the Barbecued Beef Ribs served with a roasted corn and black bean salsa.  This dish was amazing!  The description on paper did not do the dish justice.  The beef was so flavorful and delicious!  The meat was served off the bone and was tender and just seemed to melt in your mouth.  The salsa was a fun side dish offering a fresher, crisper texture and feel.  The plate even had a nice bit of grilled corn bread and pineapple.  Everything was seasoned and balanced on the plate.  I am not sure if this is on the regular menu, but there did not seem like there was any skimping here!  I would highly recommend this dish.

Barbecue Beef Ribs
Close up on the beef!
Nick had the Roasted Duck Breast with orange miso and an Asian slaw.  The duck was cooked perfectly - moist and not too fatty, and each bite melted in your mouth.  Again, each item on the plate worked so well together.  The Asian flavors were strong but not overwhelming.

For dessert, Nick had the Summer Peach Almond Crisp with vanilla ice cream.  Although he wished it was served warmer, the crisp topping was plentiful and tasty (not too cakey as some can be).  The almond flavoring was subtle, but offered a nice twist on the original, and the delicious vanilla ice cream added the right amount of creaminess.  Again, the serving size was larger than what you normally see on a restaurant week menu.

Peach Crisp
I had the Bitter Chocolate Cake with warm butterscotch sauce and soft whipped cream.  I loved this dessert.  The cake was fudgey but still light and not overly sweet.  The whipped cream was a nice, cool contrast in texture.

Bitter Chocolate Cake
Fudgey Center
Overall, each of the menu items on paper did not seem overwhelming intriguing, but each bite is perfect.  The flavors and techniques are so strong and just shine.  Other than the price, I really would not have even known it was a Restaurant Week meal as the portion sizes were not small and the quality of food was maintained.

There has been an air of mystery around Locke Ober recently and the path it is on: is it going to flourish, or are its best days behind it?  I hope with the development occurring around the Winter Street location that more people start to frequent this Boston institution because it really is delicious and has maintained its Boston history.  I highly recommend a trip.

Locke-Ober on Urbanspoon


  1. I'm glad restaurant week at Locke-ober impressed you! I have also found that meals out can be hit or miss during it. Love that they served the moscow mule in the proper cup!

  2. I have never been to Locke Ober, but I love the sound of the classic Boston vibe, and your dishes looked delicious!

  3. Great choice for RW. I would love to pay them a visit. I am excited to head to Toro tonight!

  4. So nice when you have a good Restaurant Week experience. I always hesitate to participate too. This year, I've got one reservation... for Dante, where I went during RW about 5 years ago and had a good experience, so I'm hoping this visit is the same. Locke-Ober looks amazing.... especially the chocolate cake. :)

  5. I think Restaurant Week has gotten much better and this just proves it. An old Boston classic restaurant moving forward. Looks amazing. I have been really impressed with my restaurant week dining this time. I tried Miel last night. It was fantastic!

  6. I've never been to Locke-Ober but I've always wanted to check it out. I'm glad you had a nice experience, especially with Restaurant Week. I feel like RW has some hits and misses but for me, lately it's all been hits as well :)

  7. I've never been to Locke-Ober before, but I'd go for that bitter chocolate cake and gazpacho alone. ;)

  8. Your entree looks great. I love the chunk of grilled pineapple


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