Boston Restaurant Talk reports a new team is getting ready to re-open East Coast Grill.
I hope it works out better than Locke Ober.
I didn't have high hopes for it either, but it turns out to have fantastic drinks and very good food. It's also drawing crowds most nights of the week.
I was sorry to see the relentlessly old-fashioned Locke-Ober go by the boards, too, but nobody eats that way anymore, let alone is willing to put up with a dress code. That spot had been dark since it closed in October 2012. I'm grateful some middlebrow national chain of the type that fills the Seaport didn't take its place.
I'm talking about the Lydia Shire version of Locke Ober that ran until 2012.
I think L-O was a little bit different. The Lydia Shire revival of Locke-Ober flourished for nearly ten years. She gave a moribund old grandpa a much needed physical-plant makeover and menu refresh and got great reviews, giving a new generation of diners a reason to visit. A lot of factors contributed to its demise: the death of the three-martini lunch, the fading of jackets-required dining, the perceived fustiness of Continental cuisine, the DTX swoon in the wake of the Filene's Hole, the recession. She got out a couple of years before it finally died.
I'm not sure what caused East Coast Grill to wither under its new owners, but it was doing well when they bought it, and it took them less than four years to fail at a time when the rest of the restaurant business in general and the Inman Square neighborhood in particular was booming.
Any way you slice it, this is a happy outcome. ECG is a landmark restaurant for a lot of reasons, a culinary innovator that spawned dozens of great chefs who are still working in Boston and elsewhere. (And those goofy Hell Nights were fun, if increasingly kitschy and bloated over time.) Like Locke-Ober, it saddened me to think of it as gone forever. Highland Kitchen is awesome, but "nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded." This is the proverbial win/win.
It will be interesting to see how Romano and crew tweak the ECG formula. One proposed change is taking out the raw bar to increase the bar dining space. Wood fire grilling will remain. Not sure if they intend to keep doing slow-smoke BBQ or not.
On a side note, original ECG chef/owner Chris Schlesinger is un-retiring to open The Automatic over near One Kendall with local bartending legend Dave Cagle. I'll be first in line when that place opens.
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