Monday, December 31, 2012

Abby Lane - New Jason Santos in the Theatre District

Just before Thanksgiving, Jason Santos opened his second restaurant, Abby Lane, in the heart of Boston's Theatre District.  This area has only just recently been seeing the opening of non-chain restaurants, which can sometimes make dinner and a show a bit more special.  When Nick's family came to town to celebrate the holiday, we decided it would be fun to see what Santos' new place had to offer.  

Even though it was right before the holiday, I was surprised to see how empty it was.  We had reservations, but could have walked right in.  The space is lofty with beamed ceilings and distinctive cage light fixtures.  The atmosphere is warm but still light because of the wall of windows in the front.  While we did not check it out, the upstairs has a nice bar and lounge area with brick walls and couches. 

First Floor Dinging Area
First Floor Bar Area
Shortly after getting our party together we were brought over to our table and our servers were quickly at our service, taking drink orders and bringing over some rolls.  Given that the restaurant had only been open for two or three days, there were loads of servers (and trainees) about, as though they were expecting a packed night.  They were all so eager to please they ended up being a bit too in-our-face by the end of the evening.

For a cocktail I went with the Spiced Sangria Roja made with a blend of red wines, stoli-spiked apple medley and fall spices.  This was a fun version of sangria that embraced the fall season.

Spiced Sangria Roja
To begin, Nick's brother went with the Clam Chowder with applewood smoked bacon, buttered croutons and chervil.  The soup was rich and flavorful - something nice and warm to help on the first of some chilly winter evenings.

Clam Chowder
For entrees, Nick's brother and sister both went with the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich with balsamic tomatoes, basil leaves, and fresh mozzarella.  The components of the sandwich were delicious.  The chicken was well fried but still tender.  However, the way the sandwich was presented made it a bit difficult to eat.  Might be easier with more patty style chicken, but it was a delicious meal overall.

Fried Chicken Sandwich
Nick's mom went with the baked Mac and Cheese with wild mushrooms, truffle cream and chives.  I loved my bite of this dish.  Abby Lane definitely does not hold back on the truffles, so if you don't love the flavor - beware.  Otherwise, this dish is rich and creamy and total comfort food.

(Blurry) Baked Mac and Cheese
While there were a number things on the menu that interested me, I had to go with the burger to see how it would rank among Boston's other burger offerings.  The Tremont Cheeseburger is the most basic burger on the menu, topped with thick cut yellow Cheddar and served with spicy fries and dill pickles on the side.  The fries, from what I could tell, did not offer much spice at all (as in I think they forgot it).

Burger Plate
I ordered the burger medium rare and it did come out a nice pink color, however, I wish the cheese was allowed to melt a bit more.  With that thick cut, it needed a bit more time under the heat.  Otherwise the burger was tasty, and at $13, definitely a couple dollars cheaper than many burgers around the city.

The Tremont Cheeseburger
For dessert we all had a bite of the Lemon Meringue Pie, which was served all stacked in a cute little mason jar.  The pie was tasty and a nice treat for the end of the meal.

Lemon Meringue Pie
I alluded to the service at the beginning of this post; and while there were plenty of hands ready to help, they were not quite sure what to do.  Our dessert sat in the kitchen for a solid 5 minutes while the servers were all hanging out in the back of the restaurant.  The timing of the meal was not so bad during the main courses, but still had some work to do in the timing of the food.

Another thing I found odd was that Jason Santos was there in the kitchen, keeping an eye on everything.  However, other than a couple who came in off the street, asked for a photo and then left (i.e ordered NO food or drinks), he did not interact with any other customers.  As we were eating our dessert he changed out of his chef clothes and went directly to the bar.  Seeing as the place only had two tables, I thought maybe he would come over and see how things were - but nothing.  It's not like I announced that I was a blogger, or that I expected him to come by because I was going to be writing a review, but I thought since it was the first week of operation for a new restaurant that it would have made sense (am I crazy for thinking that?!)

Overall, the food at Abby Lane is a welcomed addition to the theatre district, with its comfort food that is affordable.  The price point is not bad, and with sandwiches for only $13-$17 and entrees ranging from $16 to $28, there is something for everyone.

I think the issues I had with the evening are common for a brand new spot will work themselves out quickly.  I would recommend Abby Lane for someone looking for an easy meal over in that area.

Abby Lane on Urbanspoon


  1. Yeah, I would have expected Jason Santos to greet the guests as well. Heck, when I go to the Common Man the manager greets almost every table every time I'm there hahaha. That personal touch goes a long way!

  2. Well, the chowder and mac and cheese definitely sound really good. It's too bad he didn't come out to talk to guests. I got the same sense of him when I went to Blue Inc. He came out for a reporter who was doing photos and then went in the back without interacting with anyone.

  3. I agree - that does sound kind of odd. I'm surprised he wasn't more concerned with all the empty tables!

  4. Really interesting that Jason Santos didn't say hello. I remember how awesome it was to have Ming Tsai come over to our table at Blue Ginger. He is such a "big" chef but still so warm and friendly, and I tell this story constantly. In any case, hopefully the food makes up for it and Abbey Lane works out its service kinks in the months to come!

  5. Weird about the couple that walked in for a photo! I have been excited to try this place and hope they get things running more smoothly.

  6. hmm, a strange experience there... but hope they'll find their groove soon ;)

  7. he was walking about Blue Inc one day (when it first opened) during a very quiet lunch time....I had a similar experience. Glad the food was good, I am sure as you said they will work out the service stuff.

  8. Just found your blog and loving it. Maybe we can follow each other on GFC or bloglovin? Maybe you could stop by my blog and let me know? XO


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