Sunday, September 27, 2015

Vine Brook Tavern

It has a real, authentic tavern feel.  And why wouldn't it?  If one is dining here one would literally be in the shadow of Lexington Green, the very place where the battle that gives you all the freedoms you now enjoy (well, mostly) began.  We'd never been, so when owner Marcus Palmer invited us for dinner to sample the cuisine of Chef Chris Frotheringham, we were intrigued and then delighted. This is Vine Brook Tavern in Lexington.

After a brief tour of the two level space we started right in on cocktails and appetizers.  This Hummus And Spicy Shrimp is served with a warm Za'atar Flat Bread and Olive Oil.  The pillowy soft bread has a great chew, the shrimp fresh and the hummus of good consistency.  Not a bad start.

The Shaved Cauliflower Salad With Kale, Quinoa, Carrots, Beets, Brussels Sprouts And Ginger Sesame Vinaigrette was a mini boatload (maybe more canoe-shaped) of healthy eating.  A nice, different twist on a serving of a nutrient-packed salad.  It doesn't get more cruciferous than this.

A must-try on the creative cocktail menu is the Ginger Margarita, the house specialty and the drink ordered most.

Steak Tacos On Grilled Corn Tortilla, Salsa Ranchero, Cotija, Black Bean Crema And Lazy Street Corn.  The tacos are also a favorite on the menu and we could have eaten bowls of that corn.    

Dayboat Halibut, Porcini Bacon Risotto with Crab Butter Sauce.  Fresh and substantial with a very nice risotto, this special of the night was a hit.

The New York Sirloin was exactly what one would expect of sturdy, classic tavern fare.  Cooked perfectly and served with a choice of sides.

Sticky Toffee Pudding was reminiscent of colonial times, a square of bread pudding smothered in caramel and plated with a dollop of fresh ice cream.

The scene?  Maybe one level up from the typical eclectic mix one would expect in an affluent locale serving gastropub plates of great quality:  seniors springing for dinner with bright, preppy grandchildren, families with young children dashing in and out for a quick (thankfully) supper, well-dressed couples of all ages and thirty-something singles ensconced at the large, central, first floor bar for the evening. Although we dined early, the cougar and softball team set one sometimes encounters in the suburbs was nowhere to be found.

Perfect for?  Date night.  A nice cocktail and dinner with hassle-free, ample parking.  A special dinner out with the kids while Mom, or Dad, is away on business.  Grandpa and grandson bonding, with adult beverages. Exploring just how good suburban dining can be and showing friends the hidden gems one can find.

Favorite things?  The unique, refined tavern feel with solid food that's inventive yet beyond trendy. The shrimp and hummus and bread.  The no-rush, relaxed yet professional service.  The catch of the day.  Sirloin.

What we'd tell a friend?  Starters about $12, mains about $25,  Absolutely worth checking it out and the chances are quite good you may become a regular.  If so, see you there.

Vine Brook Tavern
20 Waltham Street
Lexington, MA  02421
Telephone:  781.863.2012
Twitter:  @VineBrookTavern

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