We start with a vocabulary lesson. Gastropubs, a trend that started in England, are pubs, bars or taverns that offer high quality meal – one stop shopping for upscale food and outstanding beer. These are the eight greatest gastropubs Phantom has ever found.
Turner’s Yard, Pembroke
Kicking off the Great 8 is Turner’s Yard in Pembroke, featuring a fun, laid back vibe, local beers on tap, industrial inspired lighting in the dining room, and soul satisfying food on every plate. The kitchen cranks out dishes that promise to fill you up, like spicy Grillo’s Pickles battered, fried and served in a mason jar; crispy pizzas served from a wood burning oven; and Buffalo Chicken Mac with lots of Cheese.
“How can you make mac and cheese better than it really is? And the only, really, solution is to add more cheese. So, you know, if you have mac and cheese, you might as well just load it up and do as much as you can. Clothbound cheddar, and fresh mozzarella, Parmesan, you just want to really drive home that richness to the mac and cheese.”
Blue Dragon, Fort Point in Boston
Another Great 8 winner is Blue Dragon in Boston. Celebrity Chef, Ming Tsai’s Asian style gastropub brings the Far East to Fort Point, offering up East-West mashups like Fish & Chips breaded in panko with a black vinegar tartar sauce, or an Indonesian style Shepherd’s Pie filled with flavorful curried lamb.
“My issue was Shepherd’s Pie sometimes it takes like meat and potatoes and that’s it,” Tsai said. “I need the food to pop. So when you take a bite into the Shepherd’s Pie here it’s like, ‘Wow. I’ve never had a Shepherd’s Pie like that.’”
Driftwood Publick House, Plymouth
The Driftwood Publick House in Plymouth is a dark, cozy pub where locals come for craft beers on draft and a hip vibe all around. And nothing pairs better with beer than pretzels, but here they do it a little differently and stuff them with Philly cheesesteak. The fresh baked pretzel, loaded with juicy beef and melted cheese, weighs in at well over a pound, and customers are in awe of the enormous size, and incredible taste.
“They’re really big, so we give you a big steak knife so you can cut into it. As soon as you cut into it, the steam comes out, the cheese oozes out onto the plate, and you just get this wonderful aroma that hits you.”
Lord Hobo, East Cambridge
Lord Hobo in East Cambridge is a serious diner and drinker destination with dark red walls, stark light bulbs suspended from a cavernous ceiling, and 40-plus obscure beers on tap. The menu specializes in lager-friendly comfort food like burgers and mac and cheese, plus more ambitious gastropub fare like perfectly cooked hanger steaks. At the end of your meal, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with a glass of double-chocolate stout paired up with a cheese plate.
Watch: Great 8 Gastropubs, Part 2
Hops N Scotch, Brookline
Hops N Scotch in Brookline specializes in all the comfort foods you love, from juicy burgers to indulgent deep fried Scotch Eggs Not only do they serve some of the best craft beers you can find, they also cook with them. So there are fork-tender short ribs braised in a milk stout and housemade beer bread served with pimento cheese.
Citizen Publick House, Boston
Another Great 8 winner is The Citizen Publick House on Boylston Street near Fenway Park. Citizen specializes in oysters, but it’s the pub grub that really stands out, like the Citizen Burger served with twice cooked French fries. This cozy nook comes complete with a fireplace and skilled bartenders pouring craft beers. And they’re even more serious about scotch, so they use a Japanese ice ball maker to ensure each sip is perfect.
SkyBOKX 109, Natick
SkyBOKX 109 in Natick is considered a “GastroSports Bar,” basically combining the upscale food and beer of a gastropub, with the flatscreens and fun of a sports bar. Some of the menu standouts include crispy flatbreads, crunchy cheesesteak spring rolls, and addictive Thai chili chicken wings.
“The Thai Chili Wings are almost like you’d expect in your head. It’s got a sweetness, but it’s got a little pop too, so it bites but it doesn’t flame your mouth out. It’s a little sweet and hot.”
Silvertone, Downtown Boston
Rounding out the Great 8 is Silvertone in Downtown Boston. This retro-cool, subterranean space serves a bevy of beers that pair perfectly with their upscale mac and cheese featuring Cavatelli pasta, a rich and creamy five cheese sauce, and a generous helping of buttery bread crumbs on top. It’s all baked up nice and bubbly, and served in an extra-comforting crock.
“You get the nice kind of crust on top. You break through and then the steam comes out and you have the kind of gooey cheese on top, and then you have the nice mac and cheese underneath.”
Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.
MORE FROM PHANTOM GOURMET